When you finally finish your data table at 3 am, and haven't actually started your article yet, you realize you may be treading in uncharted territory. If my participle is dangling, my apologies, it is simply due to the late hour and these ridiculous pajamas.
If your Denver Nuggets aren't careful, they could also be treading ground they've never explored before. The way this season has played out, you'd have thought the unfamiliar ground was their home court.
A few evenings back, the Nuggets ensured themselves a rarity: a losing home record for a season. Though last season was also sub-.500, the 2015-16 campaign will be only the ninth time they've been below that line - in their 40th season in the NBA. Home court has been very good to the Nuggets over the years.
But historic? This year? Out of those nine laggards, they've have a few seasons which had much worse home records, including the 1997-98 season, which featured a 9-32 home record in the midst of an 11-71 tragicomedy of a year. With distant memories of that horror and a few others, it's not as if the Nuggets were at their abominable worst.
Where this season does get unique is in the delta between their home and road winning percentages. Should the Nuggets lose these last two difficult home games to the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, and then somehow close out the season in Portland against the Trail Blazers with an unexpected win, the gap between their home winning percentage (.415) and road percentage (.390) is the closet it's been in the team's history. Is that significant? Even if that trend were to reverse itself entirely over these last few games with two wins and a loss, that same percentage differential is at it's second lowest in team history - the 2011-12 Nuggets were .606 at home and .545 on the road.
Here's the table showing the teams home, road and overall winning percentages back through their NBA inception. (ABA/Rockets fans, I didn't finish the table due to the late hour, but those years were mostly to the positive as well):
|Season||W-L||PCT||Home W-L||PCT||Road W-L||PCT|
2015-2016 has been one of the toughest home campaigns of the bunch. Hopefully much of that is attributable to youth, injury, inexperience, and low fan attendance. If the Nuggets are to return to the playoffs as team they hope to become, and a contender in the long term, the first step is taking back the advantages of playing hoops at a mile high. Next season, it's time to make home hurt again, but for the other guy.
A few other random stats from the table above:
- That .927 home winning percentage in the 2012-13 season is just gaudy.
- And still, that highest high is not as low as the lowest low. In 1997-98, the Nuggets won only two road games, a .049 percentage. Brutal.
- That same 1997-98 season, the home and road percentages round up by the very slimmest of margins. That's almost .219 (home) and .048 (road). I still have nightmares about that year.
- Denver has had only two winning road campaigns, and one of those was in a strike-shortened season. Two effing winning road years. In history. Holy crap snacks. But... let's fix home first. Why? Because you're going to hate this last one...
- In the 18 seasons in which Denver has won at least 15 road games, this will be the first time they're sitting at home for the playoffs. If you can fix home, you're already in for that next step. Time to take back our house.