Playing at home in the NBA takes a team’s odds of victory from 50% to 63%, that means the home team is 26% more likely to win than the away team. Although many people think it has to do with the athletes playing to their fans, or the comfort of sleeping in one’s own bed; studies have shown that these only have minimal impacts at best. The best example to prove this is how NBA teams shoot the exact same free throw percentage regardless of whether they are at home or on the road.
The two biggest factors for this advantage are the road team’s back-to-back scheduling, and how the refs call fouls. Although the players themselves are not materially impacted by the crowd, the refs are to a large extent. This is demonstrated by the huge discrepancy in the amount of fouls called in favour of the home team opposed to the road team.
I have analyzed the amount of fouls called for and against all 30 NBA teams both for when they are at home and on the road. The number listed above displays the discrepancy in the amount of fouls called in their favour at home, compared to what it would be if they were playing on the road.
I only ran the data for the 2012-2013 season, which should reveal enough information. However, at some point I will include several more seasons, which will likely correct some of the distortions in here and have greater precision.
Please note that this does not mean that one team specifically has a great crowd and another has an awful one. All it means is that in the 2012-2013 nba season, the refs were impacted in such a way. This might stem from the fact that teams give a greater effort when playing the Lakers in LA, or that teams take the night off while playing in Washington.