In papers on basketball, it is standard practice to treat the home-court advantage in terms of percentages or point differences at the end of the game. This practice leaves out of account how the advantage develops during the game, when it accumulates most strongly, its course and the in-course dynamics. This study analyzes all games played in two seasons of the NBA by quarters and overtime periods. The main result is that home advantage in the NBA is strongly front-loaded. In both years studied the home team accumulated two thirds of the home advantage it had at the end of the game in the first quarter. It accumulated less of an advantage in the second and third quarters, and still less in the fourth quarter. Further, the home team does not on average lengthen its lead in quarters which it enters ahead, but gains strongly in any quarter which it enters behind. The paper concludes with a discussion of theoretical issues raised by these results and next steps in research.
©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston