Does a ‘no home-court advantage’ playoffs benefit the LA Clippers?

LA Clippers Staples Center Venue (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Clippers Staples Center Venue (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Will the LA Clippers actually benefit from new-look NBA playoffs with no home-court advantage?

Let’s face it, LA Clippers supporters don’t exactly have the best reputation among NBA fanbases. While the team has its share of passionate die-hards (thank you, fellow Clipperholics) the Staples Center usually doesn’t get mentioned on lists of places you wouldn’t want to play a do-or-die playoff game.

Part of that is the fact that the Clippers have to share the arena with the Lakers, a franchise that had a 24-year head start to gain fans in the City of Angels before the Clippers arrived in 1984. The Lakers came to the city as one of the most successful franchises in the early days of the NBA, and helped cement that reputation and gain fans in Los Angeles by adding three more titles before the Clippers made LA their home.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has recently made moves to make sure the team won’t have to share their home with their rivals for much longer, but for now, the Clippers remain the Staples Center NBA tenant number two.

Part of the NBA’s plan for returning to play out the rest of the 2019-20 season will involve teams moving into a “campus environment” that will control the number of people that are allowed to move in and out of the facilities. This will greatly reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus to players and team personnel, creating a protective bubble around the league.

It’s necessary for the NBA to return to action, but does create an unprecedented situation for the league in which games will be played in front of no fans, in a neutral setting.

The NBA campus environment basically evens the playing field in terms of home-court advantage.

Media personality Bill Simmons recently discussed the possible impact of losing home-court advantage, and how it might actually benefit the Clippers. On a recent episode of his podcast, he discussed the idea that a neutral court environment would eliminate the possibility that a good chunk of fans in attendance at the Staples Center for playoff games would actually be there to support the opposing team. He also addressed the idea that a Clippers vs. Lakers series would basically equate to “seven home games” for the Lakers.

The Clippers are 25-7 at home this year including a 1-1 record “at home” against the Lakers. They are 19-13 on the road, with a 1-0 record against the Lakers at the Staples Center.

Lakers reserve Jared Dudley added to the trash talk recently, saying “If we would have had the playoffs and been able to play Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, for sure, that would have been seven home games potentially for us.”

Traditionally, they may have a point, but recent years have shown the Clippers fanbase growing in terms of numbers and passion. An increased interest in the team, as well as a rekindled rivalry with the Lakers, would only add to the heated environment.

Some players even revel in the fact that the Clippers get second-billing in their own hometown. Lou Williams recently talked about the prospect of the Clippers winning a title, saying “We’ll be the first team in NBA history that it’s L.A. our way and we can possibly hear boos at our own parade. I want to win it for the experience.”

That doesn’t sound like the words of a player discouraged if a few fans from the opposition get into their arena.

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Ultimately, the campus environment evens the playing field for all teams in terms of travel and playing in front of their own fans. If the NBA could return in a regular format we’re sure Clippers fans would be happy to show the league the home-court advantage they can give to their team.