Atlanta Hawks: Home Crowd Makes it Feel Like a Road Game

It’s the Playoffs, which of course means it’s time for the Atlanta Hawks to engage in their annual verbal warfare with their fickle home crowd. The AJC reports: “The Hawks’ home record during the regular season was 24-17. That ranked 16th in the NBA. Many want to blame the lack of success on poor fan support. The problem with that theory is that the only playoff team with a worse home record than Atlanta this season was the Knicks (23-18), who are one of the best-supported teams in the league. ‘Sometimes it feels more like a road game,’ coach Larry Drew admitted Thursday. ‘Maybe our guys don’t respond to those things very well.’ . . . and it’s not in a marketing slogan, either. But Drew knows: Empty seats or booing fans or too many folks in the crowd pulling for the other team are not legitimate reasons for losing. Teams lose because they lack talent, or interest, or focus. How about if the Hawks give people a reason to show up and cheer? Doesn’t the saying go: ‘Home is where the heart is’? ‘At home at times [this season] it didn’t feel like we had that confidence of the crowd, but I feel like our crowd feeds off what we do,’ Al Horford said. ‘So if we have some highlight plays and really get it going, the crowd buys into that. Or we play hard. That’s all the fans ask for. It’s really disappointing at times we don’t do that as a team.’ Bingo. This sports market has always supported two things: 1) Georgia football; 2) Something else. No. 2 always changes, either because of fluctuating success, the perceived level of commitment of ownership and management or, as Horford said, just flat out effort. In short, fans want to be given a reason to believe. If the Hawks win two home games over the Magic, watch how quickly their bandwagon fills up.”