Home-court advantage growing in Brooklyn for Nets
The Nets have identified three crucial factors for their run toward the playoffs: location, location, location. Lately, Brooklyn has become their greatest asset.
After their comfortable 93-81 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night, the Nets have won 10 of their past 12 at Barclays Center, 9 of 11 this calendar year. Maintaining that pace could be the difference in making the postseason and getting a better seed, considering that 60 percent of the teams in the weak Eastern Conference have losing home records. Through Sunday, the Nets' 15-11 mark is the fourth best of those 15 teams.
"Guys are playing well since the new year [started]," coach Jason Kidd said. "We understand the importance of trying to protect home [court] and right now that's what we're doing."
Jason Terry, a veteran and NBA champion who characteristically gestured for the crowd to increase its noise Sunday, said: "Home or on the road, we must continue to get as many wins as we can. Obviously we're under the gun and the more games you have at home [the better]. You have to make this a place where you can play because obviously in the playoffs, home court is very important."
For the peripatetic Nets, this is more than a late-season strategy. Finding a home has been as elusive a goal as winning an NBA title, and right up there in importance. The current roster was built to make an impact, to immediately develop a fan base and establish moorings for a team that has had eight homes in seven counties, including Suffolk and Nassau, during its 47-year history (not counting the ABA years when they held playoff games in Hofstra's old gym and what is now called The Theater at Madison Square Garden).
The hope is that Barclays Center is finally what they have been seeking all along.
"It's one of the best-built arenas in the NBA," said Long Islander Danny Green, who had 17 points and eight rebounds for the depleted Spurs in the Nets' 103-89 victory there Thursday. "It's always fun and exciting to be in this arena. It's a really nice facility."
There are a few caveats: Twelve games represent a small sample. The home court proved no inspiration for the listless Nets in their Game 7 loss to the Bulls in the playoffs last spring. And when teams such as the Knicks, Heat and Thunder visit, many spectators root for the other side.
Still, there is no denying that Barclays Center does have atmosphere. The crowd bellowed with the series of dunks by rookie Mason Plumlee on Sunday night, especially the one that was set up by a fast-break alley oop pass from Terry. Even during a snowstorm last Monday, the Nets drew 16,727.
Playing on the parquet floor has brought out positives in the Nets. During the 10 wins, they have averaged 100.2 points, better than their 97.5 season rate, and have shot .465 from the floor, up from the season percentage of .450. They have out-rebounded the opposition six times in those games, which is no small feat for a team that is next to last in the NBA in rebounding.
Then there are advantages you just can't measure with statistics. A dunk can move the momentum meter. "At home, it's big, to get the crowd into it," Plumlee said. "On the road, it's just two points."