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The View From Pluto: From The Rims To The Fans, Why Home-Court Advantage Matters More In The NBA

The Cavs are 7-1  at home in the postseason, while the Celtics are 9-0 at TD Garden
Erik Drost/Flickr
The Cavs are 7-1 at home in the postseason, while the Celtics are 9-0 at TD Garden

The Cavs are in Boston tonight for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The series is tied 2-2, with both teams winning their home games.

WKSU commentator Terry Plutosays the Celtics are undefeated, 9-0, at TD Garden, while the Cavs have lost just once at the Q.

Terry Pluto on home-court advantage in the NBA playoffs

Home-court advantage

What could make the biggest difference in this series is home-court advantage, which belongs to the Celtics.

“If you win every single home game and you have home-court advantage, you win the series.” Game 5 is in Boston tonight. Game 6 is back in Cleveland. And, if there’s a deciding game 7, it’s back in Boston.

“Eighty-five percent of teams that have a home game in a deciding game 7, win,” Pluto says.

Rims, fans, officials

Pluto says there are factors in basketball that make home-court advantage more of game-changer than in other sports.

“If you shot a basketball around in your backyard and you’ve been shooting on those rims and getting used to that background and then you go across town to someone else’s backyard, it doesn’t take much to miss a shot.”

Pluto notes the Cavs play 41 games at Q.

“The most you play in someone else’s arena until the playoffs is three or four times.”

Pluto also says fans are factor.

“They are so close to the court, not only unraveling the emotions of the opposing team, but fueling your own.”

And, officiating also tends to favor the home team.

“LeBron James drives to the rim and two guys are coming to stop him and they go down like bowling pins. He throws the ball up and now all three guys are screaming at the official. You’re in Cleveland and all 20,562 fans are screaming, ‘He was fouled!’

Officials are supposed to be impartial but if you’re out there with a whistle and you’re not sure at all and the crowd is pushing you one way, the natural thing to do is to go with the crowd.”


And, Pluto says, basketball is a game that’s fueled by emotion.

“Sometimes you’ll see a team at home starts to play well and starts to get all the calls. There’s a tidal wave of emotions. And when two teams are close, these little things do matter. It is a very human sport.”

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Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.