The Toronto Raptors had one of the best records in the NBA. But with no Home-Court advantage, how do they get rewarded for their great regular season.
Home Court Advantage has always played an important role for the top-seeded teams in sports. In the playoffs, it feels as if the crowd acts as an extra player for the home team, but for the NBA especially, it has always been more important compared to the other top sports in North America (NHL, MLB, NFL, NBA). In the last 20 years alone, the team with homecourt advantage in the NBA finals has won the series 16 out of 20 times. This includes the Toronto Raptors.
So how can such a big advantage be compensated for? 80 percent of the time the home team has won in the finals alone, you can't replace the presence of your home fans.
True you cannot, but there are potential alternatives that can help some home teams to a degree. As of now, there are currently ideas being thrown out and I am going to discuss which would actually be a good advantage for the Toronto Raptors.
There were five alternatives that were discussed to replace the presence of home-court advantage for the top seeds, sources tell ESPN. But there are two, in particular, that would help the Toronto Raptors a lot more than the other.
An extra foul designated to one player
The first one is that the higher-seeded team would be allowed to designate one player to be whistled for seven fouls instead of six. This would be huge for any team of course, but for the Toronto Raptors, it will especially benefit Pascal Siakam.
The only other player you can really designate this to if you're Nick Nurse would be Kyle Lowry since he draws more fouls in about the same amount of minutes played with Siakam. But since Siakam is the number one option on offense, it'd be best to have him as much as possible.
This would allow Siakam to continue being aggressive on offense and as aggressive on defense when he is on four or five fouls. As opposed to regular play, if he would be on four or five fouls he'd be more reluctant to drive on offense and less willing to contest players on defense.
So instead of getting 100 percent of Siakam 85 percent of the time, we can get 100 percent of Siakam 95 percent of the time. It's crazy how having one more foul to give would change so much for a star player.
So although this can work really well for the Raptors, it can also go really bad for them. Imagine facing LeBron James, or Giannis Antetokounmpo with seven fouls each. This can also be a double-edged sword in the final rounds where they'd lose the "Home-Court advantage."
Extra coach's challenge
The second alternative that would benefit the Toronto Raptors the most.
After the NBA implemented this addition to the season, referees were reluctant to ever change the call that was challenged at the beginning of the season. Nick Nurse was actually 0-6 before winning his first coach's challenge. Since then, he has not been afraid to use his coach's challenge. He has used it in 57.81 percent of total Raptors games so far.
It's been used roughly 37 times and he has a conversion rate of 40 percent (15 successful, 22 unsuccessful). If you disregard the first six where referees failed to admit any mistakes at that time, then he has a conversion rate of 48.4 percent. Not bad at all.
Now imagine having two coaches ' challenges in one game. If we are working with statistics and use Nurse's conversion rate of 48.4 percent, then he is bound to get at LEAST one of two calls overturned per game.
It wouldn't be surprising to see Nurse keep one where he can overturn a foul call for one of his star players and keep one for an end of a game situation.
Now we'll have Pascal Siakam potentially have a foul limit of eight if Nick Nurse plays his cards right.
The other potential alternatives
The other alternatives would be less strategic and more convenient. One including having the higher-seeded team being awarded the first possession of the second, third, and fourth quarters.
Another one would see teams carry their hardwood court to Orlando. So yes, we might potentially feel at home seeing the Toronto Raptors play on their own court.
The last alternative is rather boring and wouldn't affect play whatsoever. Teams will be prioritized through seeding and teams would be able to pick the hotel of their choice. So for example, the Toronto Raptors are seeded third overall, they would have the third choice in what hotel they'd choose to stay in. This is probably the worst and most boring alternative.
There have also been other ideas thrown out there, and it'll be interesting to see what the higher-seeded teams end up picking as a possible alternative. One of them would be picking your first-round opponent which would create a lot of NBA drama.
I for one would love to see the seven foul limits on one player. This would change many things for star players and how they approach the game, especially in the fourth quarter.
Although the coach's challenge would be good for Nick Nurse, I can't imagine it being enjoyable for viewers. Seeing three stoppages of play in one game just might be too much for a viewer to bear with and might draw many viewers away.
But bearing all this news, at least we know the NBA is on the right track and that NBA will be coming back this summer, more likely than not.