"The Lakers play 17 of their first 21 games at home"
"Talk about an easy start to the season for the Lakers"
"The Lakers have started strong, but they have a cream-puff schedule early on"
"More NBA favoritism of the Lakers, setting them up to look great with that early schedule." **
Back to the real issue. If you ask any but the most educated non-Laker fan what they know about the team, the top three answers will look something like this.
- The Lakers are really, really good.
- The Lakers have Kobe Bryant, so I hate them
- The Lakers have a really easy schedule to start the season.
Last season, the Lakers were 36-5 at home and 29-12 on the road. That's an 87.8% winning percentage for home games and 70.7% winning percentage on the road. It's a significant difference, one that shouldn't be ignored. If those percentages held true for the Lakers to start this season, with their home heavy schedule, the Lakers would have 18 wins after 21 games. If those percentages were applied to a more standard breakdown, say 11 home games and 10 road games, the Lakers would have either 16 or 17 wins. So, if last year's performance is to be used as a standard (a fair assumption, I think), this ridiculous scheduling is only good for increasing the Lakers record by a game or two. It's not an insignificant advantage, but it's also not nearly as big an advantage as it's been made out to be.
Look, I get it. To certain NBA teams, home court is a huge deal. If Utah or Portland had the same home/away ratio to start the season, it might make the difference between 16-5 and 11-10. If Denver or Cleveland had it, it could be the difference between 19-2 and 14-7. For some teams, playing at home is a huge advantage. The crowd gives them energy, their players (especially young ones) play with more confidence. It's good to play at home.