A true advantage
Having home field advantage through the playoffs is a great advantage for most teams. The prospect of playing several – if not all – postseason games on your home turf is enough motivation for some squads to believe they can achieve something special. Playing at home provides extra support that can usually pay dividends in the end.
On the other hand, there have been occasions where having home field advantage does not equate to championship success. The Washington Nationals received baseball’s home field advantage in 2012 and 2014 because they achieved the league’s best record both seasons. They were unable to advance past the first round of the playoffs. The Saint Louis Blues achieved hockey’s home field advantage over the last two seasons. They were also unable to advance past the first round.
In the NFL, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks shared a similar advantage during the 2015 playoffs. Both teams achieved their respective conferences best record [12-4] and were awarded every playoff game in their house. It resulted in the Patriots and Seahawks advancing to Super Bowl XLIX. The Seahawks received this same advantage the previous season – which saw them reach and win Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Golden State Warriors experienced tremendous home field success last season. The traditional NBA schedule consists of 82 total games [road and home games split into 41 each]. The Warriors only lost two of their 41 home games in 2014 and were awarded the advantage for having the league’s best record [67-15]. The Warriors reached and won their first championship since the 1975 season.
In baseball, the Saint Louis Cardinals experience a tremendous advantage at home. Literally being dubbed ‘baseball heaven’, the Cardinals won their last three World Series Championships at Busch Stadium [1982, 2006, and 2011]. They advanced to the 2004 and 2013 series because of their advantage of playing the majority of the postseason games at home during both of those seasons.
Whether it is baseball, football, basketball or hockey, recent and ancient history has proven that home field advantage can be a true advantage for team’s potential playoff success. The home team feels more comfortable knowing they have an entire stadium of fans on their side as opposed to being against them.