In Utah, they don’t limit the noise for Jazz games – Daily Bulletin

Home-court advantage, historically the Holy Grail for any NBA team with designs on going far in the playoffs, is yet another aspect of the game that has been knocked askew in 2021 even as Pandemic Basketball transitions into Post-Pandemic Basketball.

The ground rules remained the same as they’ve always been during the regular season: You win more games, you earn that extra home game if needed. Unlike last season, when all of the playoff hopefuls were shepherded into the Orlando bubble, there was at least a home-court advantage to be had.

But there’s home, and then there’s home. The Utah Jazz have enjoyed the latter in Games 1 and 2 of the second round and have won both, taking Game 2 Thursday night, 117-111. The Clippers will have to wait until a potential Game 6 for the benefits of a full Staples Center since Games 3 and 4 come Saturday and Monday, the latter being one day before the state of California is expected to officially re-open for business.

In the meantime, if you have any ideas for how cardboard cutouts can help replicate the noise level of Vivint Arena, I’m sure Clippers executives would be, um, all ears.

It’s the same issue the Clippers had in the first round against Dallas, and the same one the Lakers had in their first-round series against Phoenix. At home, with California’s tier system regulating how many fans are allowed in the building, they had at best a little more than a third of a full building. On the road, they faced the full frenzy of a playoff crowd, with thundersticks, rally towels, and waves of noise that do make a difference when one team is surging and the other is reeling.

Is it unfair? Perhaps. But do we really have to spell it out? Pandemic regulations and protocols are responses to factors far more significant than anyone’s home-court advantage.

Utah was welcoming small numbers of fans from the start of the season in December – 1,932 a game through January, then up to 3,902 for six games, 4,912 for a game, 5,546 through mid-April and 6,506 per game from May 1 to the end of the regular season. The Clippers played home games in an empty arena until April 1, when limited numbers of fans were allowed. They could accommodate a few more fans when L.A. County went into the yellow tier May 4, but their largest regular-season crowd during that span was 3,275 against the Lakers on May 6.

Their four home game crowds in the Dallas series were 6,117, 6,885, 7,428 and 7,342. Their games in Dallas drew 17,705, 17,781 and 18,324. Tuesday night’s Game 1 in Salt Lake City drew 18,007, and the energy and noise certainly didn’t hurt the Jazz in their 112-109 victory, a game in which Utah missed 20 consecutive shots at one point in the first half but took advantage of the Clippers’ weary legs in the second half.

It can make a difference. It was audible through the TV screen at the end of the first half Thursday night, the noise level spiking when Donovan Mitchell swished a 3-pointer near the sideline, then spiking even further when the Clippers’ Paul George – a particular antagonist, just by virtue of being PG – dribbled off his foot and lost the ball. If Joe Ingles had made his 3-pointer at the buzzer following George’s turnover, the roof might have come off the arena. Either way, ears likely were ringing for a good while afterward.

Truth be told, Utah fans also have a reputation for over-the-top heckling, the latest incident happening during the first round and leading to three Jazz fans being banned indefinitely for racist remarks directed at the family of Memphis star Ja Morant. The home team’s players might welcome the support under most circumstances, but there are times they cringe.

But the noise can make a positive difference, especially in the right spots.

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