Nobody in their right mind would ever imagine it taking seven games to dispatch the Atlanta Hawks. The Boston Celtics want nothing of it. They are just happy to be alive and still going strong, despite not having won a game in the playoffs.
The Celtics are not the only ones who have trouble in the playoffs. The defending champions are having trouble in New Orleans after losing three to the second seed Hornets. The Lakers have lost two straight in Utah and are thankful to be home for game 5.
But just how much does home court advantage help?
Just ask the players.
“It's tough man, thousands of fans yelling anything they can think of, it’s brutal out there” said Lebron James, who shot a dismal 33.3% but went back to Cleveland and shot 49.7%.
Home court advantage is vital in any situation.
Other have different opinions. Some say that it makes no difference: the crowd cannot shoot the ball for you and the crowd cannot choke for you. What makes a player is how they respond to the crowd. When the going gets tough, it’s about who steps up.
One of the best players to respond to a crowd was former Duke sharpshooter J.J. Redick. He would get hammered each game and not get a call, and chants directed towards his religion and sexual preference were heard. For instance, during the first half of a game on the road against rival Maryland, the crowd chanted "F*** you JJ" many times and called his sister a whore. They also threw objects at J.J.’s mom. But nowhere did you see fear on his face; he played the game, and did it really well.
But the greatest NBA player to handle it was Michael Jordan. The crowd loved the way he got hammered each time he went to the lane. He also stepped up and did great things. MJ loved the chants directed towards him. He said it made him better.
Only 8 of 30 teams had a losing record at home this season. Home court advantage is so big, it’s the difference of that missed free throw or that loose ball.
But some crowds take it too far.
For instance, Utah fans chanted "Cancer!" when Derrick Fisher was shooting a free throw and held up a girl when Kobe Bryant was shooting. Class should be represented with home court advantage.
Respect the players and their life.
That goes for college and high school crowds as well.
Many questions are still unanswered. Will Boston win a game on the road? Which team is going to step up and win a game on the road? I guess we will see as the playoffs roll on.
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