BOSTON (CBS) — Home court advantage has certainly lived up to its name in the Celtics-Wizards second-round NBA Playoff matchup. Can the C’s keep the home team trend going for one more night in Game 7?
With the exception of some clear outliers, home teams have been mostly in control during the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Home teams are 35-26 overall in the playoffs entering Monday night. While the heavily favored Cavaliers and Warriors are a combined 8-0 on the road (17-0 overall), that still puts the rest of the home teams at 29-19 in this year’s playoffs, a 50-win pace over an 82-game season.
For comparison’s sake, home teams in the 2017 NHL Playoffs are a combined 35-36 entering Monday.
No NBA playoff series has embodied home-court advantage more so far than Celtics vs. Wizards. Friday’s Game 6, which the Wizards won 92-91 on a game-winning jump shot from John Wall in the closing seconds of regulation, was the first game of the series in which the home team won by less than 10 points. The average margin of victory in the series is still 15.3 points.
The Wizards did buck another disturbing trend, however, with their Game 6 win. Home teams were a combined 0-10 in elimination games entering Friday, making the Wizards the first team this season to stave off playoff elimination at home.
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Celtics guard Avery Bradley believes having home court in Game 7 will once again give the C’s a big advantage on Monday night – partially due to having the crowd on their side.
“I think [home court] will help us out a lot,” Bradley told reporters after Sunday’s practice (h/t NESN). “We have the best fans in the NBA.”
Al Horford remarked that road teams can often feel added pressure when coming into the TD Garden because of the typically electric atmosphere in the arena.
“Opposing teams, they feel it. The players feel it for sure, there’s no question about it,” said Horford. “You can talk around it [but] when the fans are into it, and they’re giving that energy [to us], the other team feels it.”
Home court might not matter much to the Celtics if they are able to advance and face LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s been a decisive advantage in their series against the Wizards – no matter who the home team is. It’s up to the C’s to keep the trend alive for at least one more game.