With the first-round of the playoffs underway, the most noticeable difference in the games has been the addition of nearly full crowds. More than 50 percent of fans around the country said the inclusion of fans has significantly improved the viewing experience, only 16 percent said it hasn’t improved the experience at all.
Having fans in attendance provides a definite home-court advantage. Here locally, as the pandemic recedes thanks to social gathering restrictions and immunizations, the Suns have slowly ramped up allowed attendance throughout the season from none at all to a 5,500 number for most of the year before increasing to just over 10,000 right at the end of the season. Now in the playoffs, the first two home games reached nearly 12,000 and beginning with Game Five the attendance will hit 16,000! Compare that to the “regular, non-pandemic times” when even a bad Suns team got 15,000+ to every game.
The Suns players themselves have enjoyed the fans this year, citing several times that even the 5,500 number sounded like a “full” arena because they were so loud and engaged. On the court, the Suns have won 16 of their last 18 home games including the two playoff games versus the Lakers this week. That’s home court advantage for sure.
More than two-thirds of Suns fans believe Phoenix would have finished the regular season with a better record had fans been in attendance all season long. And that’s interesting, because the Suns finished only one win behind the top seed in the West, the Utah Jazz.
With the rest of fans around the country watching at home, there is no shortage of great opening round series to enjoy.
And guess what, Suns fans? The rest of the nation loves watching the Suns! 30 percent of fans around the country believe the Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers series is the best of the group. The New York Knicks series against the Atlanta Hawks is the next most popular choice, with 21 percent of the vote.
And even better, the larger SB Nation fanbase taking this poll thinks the Suns have set the standard of success. 26 percent of fans believe the Suns best display the characteristics of a successful team, well above other Conference leaders like the Sixers, Jazz, Nets and Bucks.
The whole world is watching us! And they like what they see.
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