Lots of teams play well at home. The Heat, Thunder, Bulls, Nets and Pacers helped build their gaudy records last season in the cozy confines of their own buildings, where all posted better win-loss records at home than on the road.
Still, none of those formidable clubs had one of the best 10 home-court advantages in the NBA.
Measuring the advantage a team receives from playing a home is tricky. LeBron James and the Heat were much less difficult to beat away from AmericanAirlines Arena, but a team that boasts four All-Stars is going to be a tough opponent anywhere. Simply comparing home and road records is not without its flaws, either, since scheduling rules gave a team like Indiana 12 games against the Pistons, Bucks and Cavaliers last season. That’s almost 15 percent of the Pacers’ season, played against three opponents with a combined record of 91-155.
Without delving into the state-of-the-art cameras that are being installed in arenas across the NBA this year, there are still ways to judge a team’s true home-court advantage. We did it by comparing all 30 teams’ point differentials at home and on the road last season, and ordering them by which teams had the greatest disparity between the home and road differentials. It’s not a flawless approach, but it’s a start.
The results were somewhat surprising. More than a few mediocre or just plain bad teams boast an indisputable advantage on their home court, proving that the best home courts don’t just make good teams better — they also make poor teams respectable.