Before making your sports picks, understand that home-court advantage is more important in the NBA than any other major North American sport. Teams win at around 60%.
No Team with a Losing Home Record Made the Playoffs
Taking a quick look back to last season, the first thing you notice is that no team with a losing home record made the playoffs. In the entire Western Conference, only three teams had a losing home record. In the East, that number was seven.
Not having a winning road record was not a telling sign in regards to the playoffs. The Indiana Pacers were the top seed in the Eastern Conference and were just 21-20 on the road. The Miami Heat were second in the East and were just 22-19 on the road. As a matter of fact, no team in the East had a better road record than that number and only three teams in the NBA surpassed that. So having a bad road record is normal. Having a bad home record diminishes your chances of doing anything significant.
There Were Only 10 Teams with a Losing Home Record
Exacerbating the previous point, there were only 10 teams in total that finished with a losing home record. Even teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets, who both finished 10 games under .500 or more, still had winning records at home.
That’s another indication of how valuable it is playing in front of your home audience.
You have to Look at the Winning Percentages
As mentioned, there were only 10 teams with a losing home record last season. Comparing that to the NHL, there were only 12 NHL clubs that failed to do the same. On the surface, it might seem competitive but that’s far from the case. Look at the high end: the top three teams in the NBA had a home winning percentage of 83% or higher. In the NHL, the top three teams averaged out at 73%. That’s a 10% drop-off.
Harder to Win on the Road in the Postseason
As evidenced by all of this talk of home-court advantage, it’s pretty clear that winning on the road is tough. It becomes even harder in the playoffs. From 1998-2008, home teams won 7021 games while losing 4569 in the regular season (60.6%). In the postseason, they won 513 and lost 278 (64.8%). That’s about the average but the best home winning percentage in the playoffs over the last 19 years was at 74.4%.
What this means is if you’re looking at futures – especially come playoff time – you want to be giving a strong valuation to the teams who have the home-court advantage. As far as betting on a nightly basis, it’s pretty clear that you want to be thinking about where the game is played first and foremost before you place your NBA picks.