It’s no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers play their best basketball at home. The Wells Fargo center has been a safe haven for the Sixers ever since Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons entered the NBA, and that has never been more important than this season.
With the 76ers on the cusp of clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, they’ll need their fervent fans in the 2021 NBA playoffs more than ever. They won’t be able to paint the entire Wells Fargo Center in blue and red this postseason because of COVID-19 restrictions, but the city will be allowing 50% capacity for the first time all season.
The 76ers are the best home team in the Eastern Conference
The 76ers have had the talent to compete for an Eastern Conference crown for the past three years, but the young core just hasn’t figured out how to win away from home. Philadelphia recorded a losing record on the road in each of the past two seasons.
But in South Philly? That’s been a different story.
In 2020, the Sixers went a league-best 31-4 at the Wells Fargo Center. They finished 31-10 in 2019 and 30-11 a year before that.
This season, with limited capacity allowed in the stadium all year, Philly is 27-7 at home, which is the best mark in the East. The team just has a different energy on that court, and it’s evident even for the fans watching from home.
Sixers to allow 50% capacity for the NBA playoffs
The 76ers entered the 2021 NBA season with no fans allowed in the Wells Fargo Center. They finally started allowing 3,000 fans on March 14, and that number has grown slowly over the past few months. For their last home game against the Detroit Pistons, the Sixers had just over 5,000 fans in attendance.
That number is about to double.
On Tuesday, the 76ers announced that the city of Philadelphia would be allowing 50% capacity for the postseason.
“We are thrilled by the city’s decision to increase capacity to 50% in time for the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs,” the 76ers said in a statement. “Our fans have created the most passionate and intense atmosphere in the NBA, and it gives us the type of home court advantage our players can feed off in the postseason,” read a statement from 76ers President of Business Operations Chris Heck. “We hope this is only the beginning and look forward to welcoming back even more fans throughout the playoffs. We also want to thank our partners at Comcast Spectacor for being on the forefront of best-in-class health & safety standards so that our fans have the opportunity to fuel our playoff run.”
The 76ers just dramatically improved their NBA Finals chances
Philadelphia only needs one more win to secure the No. 1 seed in the East for the 2021 NBA playoffs. If they can do so, the 76ers will have home court advantage in every playoff series until the NBA Finals. The recent increase in fan attendance may very well be the difference-maker in a seven-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks or the Brooklyn Nets.
Sixers rookie Tyrese Maxey hasn’t seen the Wells Fargo Center in all its glory quite yet, but he can already feel the difference the fans make in a limited capacity.
“I feel like every single other game a Wells Fargo that they add 1,000 more people because it seems like it gets louder every single time,” Maxey said. “That’s been great, but I can’t wait to see what the experience is going to be like. Everybody has always told me that Philly fans are rowdy and it’s hard to play in Philly. So, I’m ready to see it.”