Featured Gallery, NBA / Oct 6, 2010 / 1:45 pm

NBA’s 5 Toughest Places to Play

Portland's Rose Garden Arena

Portland's Rose Garden Arena

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.

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  • ENEW

    Playing in Sacramento and Golden State is tougher than Boston or Miami?

    Confused

  • CTP

    Looks like crowds are better out west! Jazz games are nuts! As for that comment about Heat games.. Every Heat game I have ever watched is full of empty seats… May not be the case this coming season though…

  • Lauri

    Top 3 in northwest division..nice..still think that Pepsi center is better than rose garden,but i’m a nugget so…

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @ ENEW

    TD Garden isn’t as tough as it used to be. Last season, Boston had a hard time winning games at home. I believe they went 24-17. I’d put the American Airlines Arena in my top 8 probably.

  • Lauri

    Most of heat’s games will be filled by rich people and tourists

  • LakeShow84

    @ ENEW

    Difference between tough teams and tough arenas..

    If Portland were to hold all 7 games at home they might be actually to take that series from THE Lakeshow..

    in a regular series we’d take it in 6.. because they’ll still take all they home game..

  • control

    Why does playing in a different arena make it harder? Other than obvious differences in locker room and facilities? I’ve played with hostile crowds, and I kind of like it…other than that, it’s 10 guys, 1 ball and 2 nets, same as everywhere else.

  • C Money

    The Ford Center! Why is it missing? Them fans is HYPE and kinda loud. And Sacramento to me shouldnt be on the list. Its only hard to play in a place where you LOSE and they havnt been relevant for some years now. And i guess the other one i would put on the list (but only for the Clippers playing there) The Staples Center! Especially looking up and seeing none of the banners belong to you!

    twitter.com/Chris_Barrio

  • Nancy

    Um.

    The Kings won 25 last season. You quoted the 08-09 stat.

    If the first pre-season at Arco is any indicator, it’s going to be even louder this year.

    And for those of you not getting the point of the article… He’s talking about the effect of the fans on the opposing team.

  • The Judge

    @Nancy — The Kings won 25 games TOTAL last year. The writer was saying 17 of those wins were at home.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @ Nancy

    Thanks for pointing that out! My mistake.

  • ricky ross

    what about the acc? yea raptors suck but look at the fan based. i go to about 5 games a season and usually we do end up winning those 5 games and the arena is noisy. i have been in other arenas(new jersey and madison square garden) and the acc owns it. and what about miami.. boston?

  • Ryan

    Seriously, stop mentioning Miami. They don’t even sell out the playoffs. It’s a nice little prediction for the future, but you can’t be serious about the past. Their attendance has been garbage. Most of the time, you can hear a pin drop there. Even in the future, they won’t have smart fans when it comes to basketball IQ. That city only knows football. Please stop embarrassing yourself.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @ Ryan

    Thank you, lol. I didn’t want to have to repeat myself about why Miami isn’t in my top five.

  • Big T

    I can verify that the Energy Solution Center in Utah is ridiculously loud. But it’s Salt Lake City… people have nothing better to do except go ape shit over the Jazz.

    I went to game 6 a couple years ago when my Lakers were playing the Jazz… and the Jazz got 20-pieced on their home court. Could actually hear the ball bouncing by the end of the 3rd quarter.

  • LMNOP

    what about Philli and New York …… the teams both suck but the crowds still show up just to boo, shits hostile for both teams.

  • JBaller

    LMNOP got it right, NY fans are vicious no matter how bad the Knicks are stinking up the place. In fact, someone should make a list of the toughest arenas for home-teams that suck to play in. Then surely MSG would rank #1.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @ LMNOP & JBaller

    They might be, but opposing teams love playing in the Garden so it’s not that terrifying. They’re too busy putting on a show, just ask ‘Bron, Kobe, and ‘Melo ect.

  • JT

    As a Portlander its good to see the Rose Garden on the list! I went to every home game last season and it feels like the playoffs every night. INTENSE! I think other teams don’t realize the fan base here is really passionate. We’re noisy and opinionated and we’re not afraid to boo or cheer. And it can make a difference: Lakers lost 9 in a row in Portland, for instance, and they’re obviously a good team too.

  • LMNOP

    @ AM, i meant it was hostile for the home teams. i imagine if the Knicks ever get good it will become hostile for the visitors, but right now, its like stress release therapy for angry angry new yorkers, shoutin an booin an thorwin coins.
    I think the Knicks players might purposely let dudes like Kobe and Bron drop 50 just cos it makes the fans happy and gives them a night off from the boos.

  • http://hoopbot.com/ HoopBot

    What about Miami!? You go there and nightclubs will literally attack you … beware of the hectic fun!

  • http://www.fukoff.com Chicagorilla

    D@mn shame Chicago isnt on the list. I went to the playoff game that we won vs the Cavs and i swear u wouldve thought it was a NBDL game. It was close and came dwn to the wire with Rose iso’d vs LBJ as the clock ran dwn and the fags sittn in frnt of me were sitting dwn sipping on some fruity drink. We are a long ways from the madhouse on madison days…

  • Zack

    Marcus Camby signed a new deal with the Blazers right before playoff time last year solely on the butterflies he got from the deafening screams of Mar-CUS, CAM-by clap-clap-clapclapclap at the end of the year last year.

    Portland fans make a REAL difference.

  • RC

    Toronto is the toughest city to play in. The Raptors can’t even win in their home court with all the advantages they can get.

    Miami, Boston, L.A., Orlando would be the toughest cities to play in. You can try to blame the city or arena or the crowd but it’s the other team that beats you not them.

  • Larry

    Portland!

  • http://www.netshype.blogspot.com netstar

    what about the Q last year?
    or the palace at auburn hills?
    or the ACC? canadien fans are vicious

  • Peter

    All five of Dime’s top home-advantage courts are in the Western Conference. North-East fans take note: it requires PASSION, not an attitude and air of entitlement, to be an awesome home court. Besides, when you leave TD Garden (named for a CANADIAN bank??? Hang your heads, bean-town) you’re in Boston, doesn’t get much worse than that…

  • Brandon Roy

    One thing’s for sure… Kobe knows it’s the Rose Garden.

  • http://www.slcdunk.com AllthatJazz / Amar

    you may be interested in this article:

    http://www.slcdunk.com/2010/10/1/1724549/bandwagon-fans-beware-2000-01-to-2009-10-nba-performance-and

    That came out 5 days before this one at dime.

  • Drink the Haterade

    What about where the Thunder play? That place has to be up there… It’s like a college atmosphere and they are exciting to watch

  • NickVanExellent

    Boston and Miami? when they define toughest place to play, they mean the fans. Where was Boston 3 years ago.. oh yeah the same place that was giving Kobe MVP chants, and then a year later booing him unmercifully. Miami? the only place where they retire jerseys of players who have never played for them.

    The list is right. As a laker fan i’ve been to some games in Sacramento and boy does it suck being a fan of an opposing team there. I don’t know about the rest of the list, but they got the top 5 right maybe not in the exact order.

  • NickVanExellent

    Zack says:

    Marcus Camby signed a new deal with the Blazers right before playoff time last year solely on the butterflies he got from the deafening screams of Mar-CUS, CAM-by clap-clap-clapclapclap at the end of the year last year.

    Portland fans make a REAL difference.

    lol… like marcus camby is getting you guys anywhere this year, or ever infact. Portland needs to cut its losses with Lamarcus Aldridge… whats the point of being damn near 7 feet tall if all your gonna do is shoot jumpers at a 45% clip.

  • Jay

    Agreed. I traveled to Sacramento to watch the Lakers vs Kings game last season and wow… IT WAS LOUD, especially for a Tuesday night,regular season game. But then again, every Laker vs Kings game is loud. Though I think there was more Laker fans then Kings fans at ARCO. Gota love that rivalry.

    GO LAKERS!!!

  • http://www.utjazzblog.com UTJazzBlog

    As a former Jazz season ticket holder, I can attest to how loud Energy Solutions Arena (formerly the Delta Center) can be. I attended games during the Jazz-Bulls NBA Finals series, and it was almost deafening. My ears were ringing for hours afterwards. Well worth it, though.