The San Antonio Spurs have won four NBA titles in the last 14 years. One important common denominator of each title?
The Spurs have held home-court advantage in each series. The extra home game wasn't usually necessary-- they swept the Cavaliers; the Knicks were ousted in five games; New Jersey was dispatched in six games -- except for in 2005, when they tangled with the Pistons in a low-scoring seven-game series.
The Spurs escaped with a seven-point victory in Game 7. The home team won five of the seven games in the series by 18.2 points per game.
So, you can probably understand why Manu Ginobili prefers to have the home-court advantage. Even if this so-called "advantage" only materializes if the series extends to a seventh game, which has only happened six times since the NBA merger in 1976, it's still nice to have. Just in case.
“It’s not that we pull (for Indiana),” Ginobili said. “I think this time it’s different than before because the homecourt advantage. It is a big difference. It’s not definitive. It doesn’t mean that whoever has homecourt advantage is going to win. But we all prefer to have a Game 7 at home than on the road if we could get to that point. But besides that, different styles, I think we can match up with both.”
Only four teams -- Miami, Oklahoma City, Memphis and the Clippers -- won more road games during the regular season than San Antonio. Only Miami and Oklahoma City, per NBA.com, outscored their opponents by more points per 100 possessions on the road. The Spurs' only road blemish this postseason came in a 97-87 overtime loss at Oracle Arena. Otherwise, they've won their other six games in hostile territory by a hefty 12.4 points per 100 possessions.
The Spurs, to put it simply, are a very, very good road team.
But they are still much better at home. This is a league-wide trend that doesn't figure to change anytime soon; playing in front of your fans, even the bottom-feeding Orlando Magic won more games at home this season, is a lot easier.
Having the luxury of an extra home game is always nice. But regardless of who their Eastern Conference counterpart is, the Spurs will still have to buckle down and win a game, if not more, on the road.
Because that's what champions do.