OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder will be trying to even up their Western Conference First Round matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday. Portland won both games at home before the Thunder took Game 3 on their home floor.
There’s no doubt that home court can and has played a major factor in NBA playoff games.
Game 3 Friday night, the Oklahoma City fans were on their feet and going crazy whether it was a made corner three from Terrance Ferguson or a Russell Westbrook block on Damian Lillard.
Portland was able to quiet the crowd by hitting timely threes of their own. CJ McCollum and Lillard both hushed fans with big threes or big time drives to the basket.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts compared hitting a big shot on the road vs. at home.
“Anytime you’re on the road when you can quiet the crowd, I mean, as a player that’s always a good moment, in some ways it’s as good of moment as getting your crowd at home fired up with a shot,” Stotts said.
“Quieting a crowd [when a team] is making a run, that’s a great part of our game,” Stotts added.
Chesapeake Arena seats just over 18,000 fans and with their team being down 2-0 in the series on Friday night, the crowd was eager to support and help their team with their loud cheering and clapping of “Thunder sticks.”
After playing for the Thunder for two years, Trail Blazers starting center Enes Kanter knows how disruptive the OKC crowd can be, saying, “that’s why they call it the Loud City.”
But, the Blazers are focused solely on themselves when they’re away from home.
“I just go hoop. I don’t really worry about the fans. I don’t worry about where we’re at… I just go play basketball,” McCollum said.
“It’s always been the same for me, home or away. I approach it the same way,” McColum continued.
For media people watching the game in media row, being surrounded by fans, it can sound a lot louder than what the players are hearing on the court.
“A lot of times, you know, you sit in the stands you can hear how loud it is,” McCollum said. “For us, it’s generally not noticeable until you try to talk, so just the communication has to be better because it’s louder.”
Oklahoma City is a 6-point favorite heading into Sunday’s Game 4 with home court advantage, but Lillard believes there is a way to limit the advantage of loud, rowdy fans.
“You just gotta focus on the game, Lillard said. “I think we did a pretty good job of just focusing on the game and we were down 10 at half [in Game 3], we came out, we just kept playing, we didn’t panic, you know, buy into the crowd, and what they were saying, how loud they were, we just kept playing and I think that gave us a chance.”
“If we do us, those types of things will happen – not allow the crowd to get into it so much, I guess you can limit what the home court advantage is,” Lillard said.
The Trail Blazers don't NEED to win a game in OKC to take this series, but it sure would be nice if they could quiet the crowd and steal Game 4.