In the past week, the basketball league of the United States had its return. Between several decisive matches, we can see some consequences of the crowd absence. How does affect the games and which teams struggled the most with this?
DOES THE CROWD HAVE AN IMPACT ON A BASKETBALL GAME?
One of the aspects that bettors and sports’ analysts take into consideration in a match is the home advantage. A lot of teams tend to perform much better when playing at home, and that is one of the more natural things in team sports.
Football is the first sport that comes to mind, with traditional teams that utilize their home advantage in their favour: Boca Juniors and La Bombonera are maybe one of the biggest examples in the world.
Basketball, more precisely the NBA, isn’t a league where the teams usually end up changing their approach when playing on the road.
However, a lot of them have more strength when playing at home, but that was lost on this new stage, with the competition moving to Disney.
Just like in football, the NBA has some fiercer crowds than others. All of them are passionate, obviously, but there are some who stand out for being more vibrant, without that “theatre” crowd where everyone is sitting down and just shout “defence” once in a while.
ON DECISIVE MOMENTS, THE CROWD REPRESENTS AN ADVANTAGE
The NBA games are formed by 4 periods of 12 minutes each, with a lot of stoppages due to timeouts, fouls, violations, reviews, etc. Games can last up to 2 and a half hours, and no crowd will spend more than 2 hours screaming nonstop.
The games have their decisive moments, the ones who are determinant for the outcome of the game, or the final minutes. The crowd pushes the team forward, but they depend on the team to gain strength.
The start of the game is still very warm, since things only start to get a bit heated during the 2nd quarter. The return after half-time is an important period of the game and it is often where the game is decided.
The final period, if the points’ difference isn’t absurd, is where the arena turns into a “pressure pot”. Each basket is very celebrated. A streak of points, and for the teams with those characteristics, every time the 3-points shots go in, it’s an explosion of joy.
That shout “defence” is additional strength for the team to defend, especially if the game is balanced. Individual marking, strong centres to defend the key and a lot of fight (sometimes literally speaking) are influenced by the screams from the stands.
WHAT WERE THE BEST TEAMS PLAYING AT HOME THIS SEASON?
The best home team in the league until the stoppage were the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid’s team had 29 victories and only 2 losses, beating great teams, such as: Bucks, Lakers and Clippers. Below are some other teams who took advantage of their games at home.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team enjoyed their games at home: they won 28 times and they’ve lost only 3 times, being very close to having the best record at home in the league.
- Miami Heat: For a long time, they were almost unbeatable at home. With 27 victories and 5 losses, they turned the American AirLines Arena into a fortress.
WHO’S THE BIGGEST LOSER WITH THE MATCHES WITHOUT CROWD?
We can say confidently that everyone lost. There weren’t any teams that benefited from this and the lack of a packed arena in their favour hurts any team.
On the other hand, we can make an analysis for this final stretch and especially for the playoffs, about some teams that utilize their home advantage very well.
The 76ers were surely impaired. This is a team that utilizes the strength from Philadelphia very well and the atmosphere created at the Wells Fargo Center. They have a set of fans that is demanding but that is very passionate and put on a huge pressure. Just remember the clashes from the Eastern Conference last year, against the champions Toronto Raptors.
Another team that lost a lot are the Los Angeles Lakers. Although they share the Staples Center with their rivals LA Clippers, their set of fans is one of the fiercest in the NBA.
Surely, on a possible conference final, that would have a huge impact, because even if the Clippers were to play at home, I believe that the Lakers would be in equality in terms of fans inside the arena.
The Bucks also end up losing as well, because so much time without appearing amongst the best teams in the league, right now is where the fans are supporting the team the most.
They performance levels are very strong at home, with the Fisery Forum turning to a true “pressure pan”. Just like the Heat, who weren’t a truly competitive team since they lost the team that included LeBron James. This is team that takes very well advantage of their games at home and that has been decisive on this final stretch.
CELTICS AND THE DREADED TD GARDEN
Another team I should reference as disadvantage are the Boston Celtics. The TD Garden really works in favour of the team. The atmosphere created in Boston is spectacular, with the fans pushing the team forward and supporting a team without a true NBA superstar but with great promising players.
They will miss their fans. Everyone lost, that’s true, but some teams will be more impaired than others, especially when they lose. It is still true, but their strength is considerably lower.