Kevin Durant Sticks the Needle to the Brooklyn Nets Over Home-court Woes

It took an off-balance floater from a rookie, but the Brooklyn Nets finally won a game at Barclays Center. Cam Thomas dropped a floater in the lane with 1.7 seconds to go in overtime, and the Nets beat the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 9 in the first game of a coast-to-coast back-to-back. Brooklyn is now 11–10 in its own building.

Now the Nets go to Portland on Jan. 10 for the first of their rescheduled games after a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak ravaged the roster in December. It’s been a case of road, sweet road for Brooklyn, which is 14–3 as the visiting team this year, challenging the record set by the 2015–16 Golden State Warriors, who were 34–7 on the road.

It can’t all be about Kyrie Irving, but the question persists: Why can’t the Nets consistently win at Barclays Center?

The Brooklyn Nets have seldom had a home-court advantage

Kevin Durant wasn't ready to blame the absence of Kyrie Irving for the Brooklyn Nets' recent struggles at Barclays Center.
Kevin Durant wasn’t ready to blame the absence of Kyrie Irving for the Brooklyn Nets’ recent struggles at Barclays Center. | Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Last season, the Brooklyn Nets set a franchise NBA record for winning percentage when they finished 48–24 (.667). That included a 28–8 mark at Barclays Center, by far the team’s best record since opening the facility in 2012.

The franchise record for home wins is 33, set in New Jersey by the back-to-back NBA Finals teams in 2001–02 and 2002–03. Those teams each went 33–8 at what was then called Continental Airlines Arena.

Suffice it to say that the Nets remind no one of the 1985–86 Boston Celtics, the juggernaut that went a record 40–1 at Boston Garden en route to an NBA title.

Perhaps the lack of history in a single arena haunts the franchise. Since its 1967 inception in the ABA, the team now known as the Brooklyn Nets has called seven arenas home:

  • Teaneck Armory (1967–68)
  • Long Island Arena (1968-72)
  • Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (1972–77)
  • Rutgers Athletic Center (1977–81)
  • The arena of many names in East Rutherford (1981–2010)
  • Prudential Center (2010–12)
  • Barclays Center (2012–present)

The years in East Rutherford were marked by poor attendance and a reputation as a fun place for visiting fans to see New York without paying Madison Square Garden prices.

But this year’s struggles at home are a surprise. Even without Irving, the veteran, star-powered team should be better at Barclays Center. Kevin Durant alluded to this after the Nets dropped their fifth straight home game on Jan. 7.

Kevin Durant said the team got what it earned at Barclays Center

With their win over the Spurs, the Brooklyn Nets peeked back above the .500 mark at Barclays Center. That leaves just one team in a playoff position at .500 or worse in their building. The Philadelphia 76ers are 8–8 and fifth in the East.

After the Milwaukee Bucks handed the Nets a 121–109 loss on Jan. 7, Kevin Durant said the team didn’t deserve a home-court advantage with the way it was playing at home.

“I think we all love being at home,” Durant said, per SNY. “It’s just the fact that we’re struggling, having bad starts, teams coming in here with major confidence. We’ve got to turn the tide, and I feel like we will. Our home crowd wants to get behind a team that’s playing well. I don’t expect us to have a great homecourt advantage if we’re playing s***** basketball.”

But Durant wasn’t going to blame Irving for the team’s woes at home. Irving recently rejoined the Nets, who won his debut at Indiana on Jan. 5. He’s ineligible to play at Barclays Center because of his vaccination status.

“We were playing the majority of our games without him, so we know how to go back,” Durant said. “We’re professionals; you know what I’m saying? We’re veterans. We’re supposed to know how to adapt to some s***; you know what I’m saying? Like I said, we’ve been playing without him all season, so one game shouldn’t throw us off like that.”

Home-court advantage hasn’t helped the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs


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Since the franchise left New Jersey, the Brooklyn Nets have held home-court advantage in just three playoff series. Their first-round victory over the Celtics last season was the first time the Nets won a series with home-court advantage.

The other two came down to Game 7 at Barclays Center. The Chicago Bulls knocked off Brooklyn in the first round in 2013. Last season, Milwaukee eliminated the Nets in the conference semifinals when Kevin Durant’s potential series-clinching 3 was wiped out by a toe on the line.

Still, conventional wisdom suggests that having four home games in a potential seven-game series is a big deal. Hence the term “home-court advantage.”

Since they came to the NBA in 1976, the theory hasn’t always panned out, either in New Jersey or Brooklyn.

It’s worth noting that the first playoff series the Nets won came on the strength of three road wins. New Jersey beat the 76ers 3–2 in the first round of the 1984 playoffs by winning Games 1, 2, and 5 at Philadelphia. They lost potential series clinchers at home in Games 3 and 4.

It took the Nets seven tries to win a playoff game at home. Before the Finals run in 2002, they were 3–14 wearing the old home whites in a postseason game.

Maybe the Brooklyn Nets should embrace their home-court struggles. Play for the third or fourth seed so they can play the most critical games away from Barclays Center. Doing it the other way hasn’t seemed to work out very often, after all.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and Stathead.

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