New York Knicks Must Make Home-Court Advantage Top Priority
With the New York Knicks' current roster, the team is built to win now. The components have clicked so well, and they're playing great basketball at home—in front of thousands at Madison Square Garden.
New York currently possesses a 19-6 record at home, which is good for the third-best home record in the Eastern Conference. The team's overall record is 31-16; good for second in the East, just below the Miami Heat.
Anyone that knows basketball understands how important it is to win games in front of your home crowd before marching on the road. Away games are tough to win, especially when you consider the hostile environment for the opposing team—you know, a Knicks fan walking into TD Bank Garden isn't an ideal picnic.
Can you imagine a playoff game with home court behind you?
The Knickerbockers are motivated by the crowd, just like at Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith coming off the bench and sparking the interest of those in the seats.
If playoffs began right now, the Knicks would be pitted against the Boston Celtics with New York having home court for the series.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the intensity during a playoff run in comparison to a regular-season game is multiplied by 10.
Home-court advantage is critical in a seven-game series, not only for a series against Boston, but also against any playoff team the Knicks encounter on their journey.
The Knicks are evidently comfortable in front of their fans as they started off 10-0 at home before losing to the Houston Rockets.
Fellow Bleacher Report contributor Kevin Belhumeur crunched some numbers from past playoff series.
During this same period of time [1998-2008], home teams in the postseason won 513 games while losing only 278. The winning percentage in the playoffs for home teams was 64.9 (more than four percentage points higher than it was for home teams in the regular season).
That means that if New York had the advantage, there's a 65 percent chance they win the series.
I think not!
Typically, the home team is more comfortable and have less playoff jitters, which could explain home teams' success.
In games at Madison Square Garden against playoff teams, New York is 5-4—a winning percentage of 56. Although it's a small sample size, it just shows what New York can do at home.
In Belhumeur's same article, he even specifically mentions the success of home teams winning just about 80 percent.
Between 1999-2008, a team with home-court advantage in the playoffs won more than three out of four series. In the first round, home teams won series at a rate of 81.3 percent. In the conference semifinals, home teams won 80 percent of the time. In the conference finals, it is interesting to note that the winning percentage dropped to 50 percent. In the NBA Finals, it climbed back up to 80 percent.
Although it's not impossible, beating contenders in their home arena is quite difficult, and New York doesn't want to find itself in a predicament where it's in foreign territory for a Game 7.
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