Wizards

Lack of homecourt advantage clear in NBA playoffs

Wizards
© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has tried to find creative ways to make it look like a team's homecourt when you watch games played in the Disney World bubble on television, but without fans or travel the traditional homecourt advantage is simply not there.

That has already been seen in the first round-and-a-half of the NBA Playoffs and especially in the second round series between the Bucks and Heat. Milwaukee now trails that series 0-2 despite being the No. 1 seed in the conference. They lost their first two games, in which they were technically the home team.

Including those two games, road teams in the 2020 NBA Playoffs are now 21-25. That is still a losing record, but it represents a tilt in the visitors' favor when compared to previous years.

A 21-25 record is good for a .457 win percentage. The previous five years of the NBA Playoffs combined saw road teams hold a .376 win percentage. 

Last year's postseason, interestingly enough, also saw a surge in success by road teams. The visitor win percentage was 439 (36-46), so not all that far off from what we have seen this season.

But other years show a major difference, including in 2017-18 when road teams won at a rate of just .293. In the 2015-16 season, road teams had a .326 win percentage.

Before the official restart plan was agreed upon, the NBA explored ways to offset the elimination of homecourt advantage, which many predicted would happen. There was talk of extra possessions for higher-seeded teams, extra fouls for designated players and even transporting the hardwood floors from home arenas.

 

Ultimately, none of the ideas were adopted and now homecourt advantage is essentially non-existent. That, so far, is helping the cause of upsets.

If that continues throughout the playoffs, some longstanding trends could be tested. As NBA.com noted in July, 31 of the 36 NBA titles since 1984 have been won by No. 1 or No. 2 seeds.  

Whether the Heat would be up 2-0 if they had to play the first two games in Milwaukee, we don't know. But the overall results of this year's playoffs show the neutral location of games is indeed having an effect.