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Faster slam-dunks at home

Slam dunk: Anthony Bennett scores for the Cleveland Cavaliers, in an NBA game

ERIK DANIEL DROST / WIKIPEDIASlam dunk: Anthony Bennett scores for the Cleveland Cavaliers, in an NBA gameERIK DANIEL DROST / WIKIPEDIA

Statistical analyses of championships of collective sports like soccer have already proven that the “home team advantage” indeed exists. Playing on your own field is no guarantee of victory, but it tends to help. “We examined what happens during a match to create this advantage,” says Haroldo Ribeiro, physicist at the State University of Maringá. Ribeiro and his colleagues Satyam Mukherjee, from Chicago’s Northwestern University, and Xiao Han Zeng, from the US-based company Groupon, analyzed 16,000 basketball games from the 2001 to 2014 seasons of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After a play-by-play analysis of each match, the researchers confirmed that all teams tend to score more points – and do it faster – when they are playing at home, especially in the first quarter of the game (PLOS One, March 25, 2016). “The time interval between scores goes down,” says Ribeiro, speculating that the cheering crowd and familiarity with the court may give the home team an initial edge. The physicists also noted that some teams seem to seize this advantage better than others, although the overall effect has been less apparent in recent NBA seasons.