Handicapping NBA Home Court Advantage

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There’s no denying that most teams play better at home than they do on the road. During the 2010-11 season home teams went 743-487 (60.4%). That really shouldn’t come as a big surprise, over the years home teams win right around 60% of the time.  The question everyone wants to know is how you incorporate home court advantage when picking against the spread.

A lot of people like to use a set number that home teams are given, for example most believe the home team gets 3-points before any other factors are determined when the line is being made. If you base it off our NBA point spread conversion chart, teams who win at a 60% clip should be favored by 3.5-points. Others believe the number is closer to 2-points.

By setting a set number for every home team you are saying there is no difference in playing a game in Boston than there is in playing a game in Denver. If you follow the NBA you know that is simply not the case. I believe that if you really want to find out where the home court advantage is, you have to compare how well a team does at home compared to how well they do on the road. Great teams are going to have a great home record, but they are also going to win a lot of games on the road. That doesn’t mean they have more of a home court advantage than a team who finishes below .500.

I went back over the last 10 seasons and compared the home and away winning percentages of every team. The bigger the difference the stronger the home court advantage.

Team  Home Winning % Away Winning % Difference
Denver Nuggets 67.10% 38.30% 28.80%
Golden State Warriors 55.60% 28.50% 27.10%
Utah Jazz 67.30% 41.20% 26.10%
Atlanta Hawks 55.10% 29.30% 25.80%
Milwaukee Bucks 57.10% 31.50% 25.60%
Indiana Pacers 62.90% 37.60% 25.30%
Charlotte Bobcats 51.20% 26.10% 25.10%
Cleveland Cavaliers 63.40% 39.00% 24.40%
Chicago Bulls 59.00% 35.60% 23.40%
Washington Wizards 52.40% 29.50% 22.90%
Los Angeles Clippers 50.20% 28.00% 22.20%
Sacramento Kings 60.50% 38.50% 22.00%
Memphis Grizzlies 53.40% 31.70% 21.70%
Portland Trail Blazers 61.20% 39.50% 21.70%
Los Angeles Lakers 73.90% 53.20% 20.70%
New Jersey Nets 50.00% 30.80% 19.80%
San Antonio Spurs 80.00% 60.50% 19.50%
New Orleans Hornets 60.80% 41.50% 19.30%
Dallas Mavericks 76.80% 57.80% 19.00%
Orlando Magic 63.20% 44.40% 18.80%
Phoenix Suns 68.00% 49.30% 18.70%
New York Knicks 48.30% 30.00% 18.30%
Toronto Raptors 50.70% 32.70% 18.00%
Miami Heat 60.20% 42.40% 17.80%
Houston Rockets 62.00% 44.40% 17.60%
Detroit Pistons 67.10% 50.00% 17.10%
Minnesota Timberwolves 42.90% 29.00% 13.90%
Philadelphia 76ers 53.90% 40.80% 13.10%
Oklahoma City Thunder 58.50% 45.50% 13.00%
Boston Celtics 62.90% 50.50% 12.40%

It has long been believed that the Nuggets and  Jazz have a huge home court advantage, and this data definitely backs that up. If you were one of those that thought there was no difference from playing a game in Boston and Denver, you can see that it isn’t the case at all.

If there wasn’t a true home court advantage you would expect to see a huge difference between the Lakers and Clippers who both play their home games at the Staple Center.  Despite the difference in how much better the Lakers are at home, the numbers show that there is just a 1.5% difference between the two teams in how well they play at home compared to on the road. That 1.5% difference isn’t that much when you consider there is a 16.4% difference in playing in Denver and Boston.

No one in the NBA has a better home winning percentage over the last 10 years than the Spurs, who have cashed in 80% of their games played at the AT&T Center.  To the average fan it may seem like the Spurs would have the best home court advantage of any team, but they have simply been the best team over the last decade. The fact that the Spurs win at such a high percentage at home, will likely result in oddsmakers overvaluing San Antonio against the spread in home games. Last year the Spurs were 36-5 SU and just 19-21-1 ATS at home.

How do you use this information to help you handicap the NBA? Because it is so widely known that teams like the Nuggets and Jazz are so much better at home than they are on the road, oddsmakers are going to shift their lines closer to what they should be, so you aren’t going to find a lot of value. I suggest looking for teams that have shown a great home court advantage on the chart that aren’t considered great home teams and back them against the spread, as oddsmakers aren’t likely to adjust those lines as much as they would the Nuggets and Jazz. You can also use this chart to see when teams are getting too much respect on the road. A team like the Hawks have won just 29.3% of their road games over the last 10 years. That means Atlanta should rarely ever be favored on the road, but because of how well they play at home there is a good chance they will be overvalued on the road, especially off a long homestand.

About the Author: Jack Jones has been one of the top experts on the site while competing against roughly 80 of the best handicappers in the world each year. He has made most of his money on the hardwood. In fact, he has finished in the Top-5 in college basketball each of the last three seasons (#5 2011-12, #5 2012-13, #3 2013-14). He was also the No. 1 NBA handicapper from 2012-13. As of early April, Jack has compiled an 802-631 basketball run that has seen his $1,000 game players profit $124,030. He was the No. 3 College Football handicapper in 2012-13. While he doesn't have any top finishes in the NFL, he has produced steady profits without killing his clients. Jack also was your No. 7 MLB handicapper in 2009 and backed it up with a No. 8 MLB finish in 2010. No matter the sport, the one thing you can count on with Jack Jones is that he won't leave any stone unturned. You'll know why he is on a game with his detailed analysis, and more times than not, you will come out well ahead against your book. Head on over to Jack's premium pick page to see what he has in store for tonight!
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