After a late night of ballin’ on the recently released and highly anticipated NBA 2K11, I couldn’t help but notice the difficulty of playing online against a team with home-court advantage — especially late in games. One can only imagine what it’s like trying to execute plays in crunch time in real life in these gyms.
With another NBA regular season on the horizon and a sense of excitement around a lot of teams this year, I couldn’t help but think of some of the toughest places to play throughout the League. Here are my top 5 toughest arenas to play in the NBA.
5. ARCO Arena (Sacramento Kings)
Despite managing to conjure up only 17 wins at home last season, the Kings still have one of the loudest, most rambunctious groups of fans in the League. ARCO is the smallest arena in the NBA, but its capacity of 17,317 sounds like twice that amount when the fans get going. The heyday was about a decade ago, when Jason Williams was dishing out elbow passes like they were candy and Chris Webber was putting up MVP-caliber numbers, around the same time the Kings placed a banner in the rafters that said “The NBA’s No. 1 Home-Court Advantage.” The Sacramento fans even set a Guinness world record for the loudest roar ever recorded. They don’t call this place “Cowbell Kingdom” for nothing.
4. Oracle Arena (Golden State Warriors)
About 80 miles south of Sacramento, the entire city of Oakland is getting hyped up at the Oracle. If you ever watch their games on TV, everything happens so fast that you wish you could slow it down like the Matrix. Instead, you’re wildin’ out with over 19,000 fans, as if you were at a Waka Flocka concert. This was once one of the most exciting teams in NBA history to watch run up and down the hardwood, and the fans only added to the frenetic energy. A resounding home-court advantage helped the Warriors become the third No. 8 seed in history to upset a No. 1 seed when they knocked off Dallas in 2007. After notching just 18 wins at home last season, this improving group might have the crowd jumping all the way into the playoffs sooner rather than later.
3. Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets)
After going 33-8 at home during their Conference Finals run in the 2008-09 season, the Nuggets yet again established themselves as one of the best home teams in the League with a 34-7 record last season. Aside from the wild crowd, Denver might have the best advantage over any team in the NBA, since the opposing teams fly in really late to the airport where they have another long drive just to get to a hotel room downtown. With a late flight, working on hardly any sleep, then playing a mile above sea level — it’s no wonder why the Nuggets are so good at home. Even if Carmelo is shipped out, this crowd will still cause avalanches in Denver.
2. Rose Garden Arena (Portland Trail Blazers)
After the Blazers drafted Brandon Roy in ’06 and returned to winning status, the Rose Garden has been sold out on a nightly basis. Ranking fourth in the NBA with a 34-7 mark at home last season, the atmosphere at the Rose is unlike any other in the NBA. The fans go hard and are committed, probably because there is no other professional team in the area. But when the game is on, it’s almost as if you’re watching a game in a college town — a nonstop screaming fest. The fans are extremely loud, and very much in tune to what’s going on. When the referees are off their game, you better believe they’ll hear about it. Believe me; if you ever step into the Rose Garden, you’re in for one wild night.
1. EnergySolutions Arena (Utah Jazz)
Like Dorothy says, there’s no place like home … and you better believe that’s what the Utah Jazz are saying about their crib. What makes this arena so difficult is because of the placement of their fans. If someone were to fall from the upper deck seats, they would land right in the center of the court. It’s so compact inside that it makes opposing teams feel as if their backs are against the wall the entire night. In the last few years this Jazz team has been pretty poor on the road, but next to unbeatable at home. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.