Jan 17, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson (3) drives to the net against Cleveland Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller (40) and point guard Jarrett Jack (1) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets: Where Is The Mile High Advantage?

No matter if it was Dan Issel, Alex English, Dikembe Mutombo or Allen Iverson on the floor, no matter if it was Doug Moe, Jeff Bzdelik or Curious George on the sidelines, no matter if the game was at McNichols Arena, Denver Auditorium or Pepsi Center, no matter if the team was called the Rockets or the Nuggets – we’ve always been able to count on our Denver Nuggets winning when playing in Denver.

The city of Denver has been so good to this team that a 35-win Nuggets team coached by BERNIE BICKERSTAFF used the Mile High City’s advantage to record a home victory vs. the legendary 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, or the best team in NBA history.

We can’t count on this year’s Nuggets to capitalize on that advantage. The 2014 Nuggets are only two games over .500 with an 11-9 home record. Home losses represent my biggest issue out of all the Nuggets current problems. I hate losing, but I REALLY HATE losing at home.

The stats show that the Nuggets are a better team at home, but not by much. They actually score 0.7 less points a game at home vs. on the road. They splash one more 3-pointer per game, grab 3.2 more rebounds at home and dish out 2.4 more assists. On average, visiting teams score only 2.3 points less at the Pepsi Center than their own stadium.

The stats state that this year’s Nuggets team plays about the same at home as they do on the road. With nine home losses, the Nuggets ALREADY have three times as many losses at home than they did all of last season.

This is so strange to me. I’ve counted on Nuggets winning their home games like I’ve counted on the sun rising. It’s been a blessing to buy tickets and expect to see a win. So, what’s the issue? Where has the home court advantage gone?

I dug and dug through the home vs. away statistics and it was tough to find a glaring difference in the Nuggets play at home vs. the road.

However, the stats tell a more complete story when comparing home wins vs. home losses. In home wins the Nuggets shoot 46.4 percent from the floor. In losses? They shoot only 41.2 percent. The team makes 3.4 more 3-pointers a game in the wins vs. the losses. They also shoot far more efficiently from long range, 40.1 percent from 3 in wins vs. 32.3 percent in losses.

Although it may sound simple, this Nuggets team relies heavily on shots falling to win games. Far more than past years. They don’t have the fast break or points in the paint dominance previous Nuggets teams could fall back when it was a bad shooting night. The ’13-14 Nuggets average 14.2 fewer points in the paint per game than the ’12-13 Nuggets.

One solution for the Nuggets is to play easier teams. Six of the nine losses came against teams over .500. But an easier schedule is not a fix-all – the other three losses are inexcusable losses to lowly Utah, Philadelphia and most recently Cleveland.

Given that scoring in the paint and on fast breaks are considered “energy” points, and a home court provides a team with an energy boost, it’s clear why the Nuggets are just about as good on the road as they are at home– The home crowd can provide a little more motivation for an offensive rebound or to sprint down the floor, but the Nuggets faithful can’t force a 3-pointer to fall.

Brian Shaw wants his team to compete and win without having to beat the defense down the floor. Fans who are sick of first round exits want the same, BUT if the Nuggets want to make the playoffs they have to win at home! In order to take advantage of the Mile High City and win at home they need to push the pace and score close to the basket as much as possible. In the NBA it’s important to use any advantage you can and playing faster at home can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Tags: Brian Shaw Denver Nuggets Pepsi Center

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