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Home Court Records and Champions

The Celtics, as you probably know, are 16-11 at home going into tonight’s game against the Bobcats. Sixteen teams have better home records, including the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks. This is, obviously, not a good sign. All talk about flip-switching aside, championship teams typically take care of business at home and against sub-par clubs.

If they keep their current pace up, the C’s will finish with a home record of around 25-16 or 24-17.

I was curious: Has an NBA champion ever had such a “bad” home record?

The answer (considering only post-ABA/NBA merger teams) is yes, but only one.

Can you guess which NBA champion of the last 30-plus seasons had a home record of exactly 25-16 in its championship season?

The answer is after the jump.

It was the 1995 Houston Rockets, a bizarro champion that went just 47-35 thanks to some in-season maladies and a general ho-hum start that spurred the Otis Thorpe/Clyde Drexler mid-season trade. The Rockets were the 6th seed in the Western Conference playoffs and went through the four top teams in the NBA (by regular-season record) on their way to the second of back-to-back titles. Hakeem Olajuwon also broke into David Robinson’s house in San Antonio, ate food out of the refridgerator and didn’t even leave a note.

In general, the lower-level home records for post-merger champions level off at 31-10. That was the home mark of the ’07 Spurs, ’06 Heat, ’04 Pistons, ’01 Lakers (a classic “cruise through the regular season and steamroll through the playoffs” team), ’93 Bulls and ’79 Sonics (and, going back to the last pre-merger season for Boston trivia purposes, the ’76 C’s).

Only the Rockets, ’82 Lakers (30-11) and ’78 Bullets (29-12, just 44-38 overall) fell below that 31-10 mark. Every other champion was better.

Does this mean the C’s season is doomed, or that their home record reveals they are not championship material? Of course not. They could get hot now and finish with a solid home record, and they could be a ’95 Houston/’01 Lakers-style club that truly turns it on for the playoffs. That seems to be what the team is banking on; Kendrick Perkins said over the weekend that the team’s success on the road (20-10, 2nd-best in the NBA) has taken away the urgency of the home-court race.

Mostly, this post is meant as trivia for NBA buffs.

But a 16-11 home record can’t be a good sign, right?

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