First of all, my apologies, as this isn't the kind of detailed post that I have typically produced for you guys lately (the real world takes its toll on even the best of us sometimes). However, I have put together a bit of research that I believe to be quite important as the Hornets continue to make their playoff push. We have all made our cases about how important attendance numbers are to the team's future in New Orleans, but what about its correlation to actual on-court success? After the jump, I present some interesting (but not totally unpredictable) information about the relationship between fan support and team success.
First of all, a disclaimer - in order to properly define "fan support," I have removed three Hornets home games from my data set. The two games against the Los Angeles Lakers and the one game against the Boston Celtics do not properly represent the true impact of a "home court advantage", as many of the fans at those games were cheering for the road team. Once these games are removed, we are left with 35 New Orleans Hornets home games to analyze.
Within these games, the first thing that became clear to me was a "cut-off number"; that is, the attendance number where performance clearly starts to separate. This number appears to be about 14,000 (13,898 to be exact). When there are at least 13,898 fans in the New Orleans Arena, the Hornets have not lost a game to a team that is currently under .500, going 9-0 against those teams with an average scoring margin of +11.22. When attendance falls below this number, the Hornets' record against sub-.500 teams falls to 5-2 with a margin over 5 points lower at 6.14. If there is one conclusion to take away from this data, it is the fact that, when the crowd is behind them, the Hornets take care of business versus inferior opponents.
Let's take this "cut-off number" a step further, shall we? When the attendance total is 13,898 or above, the Hornets have an average scoring margin of +5.86 points in 21 games played, with these games coming against teams with a current average winning percentage of just over 50%. When the attendance falls below this total, the Hornets' scoring margin drops a full three points to a +2.86 average in 14 games, and these teams sport a current average winning percentage of just under 50%. To put all the pieces together, the Hornets outscore superior opponents by a larger margin when more fans are in attendance cheering them on.
What is my point, you ask? Quite simple - get your butts in the seats at the New Orleans Arena! This Hornets team needs your support more than ever right now, and as you can see from the statistics above, every extra fan will help this team play just a little bit better. Who knows, maybe you are that one additional fan who pushes the Hornets to their next victory! Think about that while deciding whether or not to join us in The Hive for the Hornets' next game, especially come playoff time. I'm in! Are you?
Thoughts and/or gripes welcome and encouraged in the comments section below. If you have a problem with me discarding the Lakers' games from my analysis, I can definitely understand where you're coming from; I went back and forth a good bit on whether or not it was fair to exclude those games. If the Hornets happen to land the Lakers in a playoff series, it is especially important for us Hornets fans to snatch up those tickets before the Laker bandwagoners get their hands on them. That way, we can see what a true "home court advantage" means against those guys!