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Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni explains why playing without fans is a ‘big deal’

Rockets, Mike D'Antoni

While some players and coaches are concerned about the absence of fans in the NBA’s return in July, Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni wonders whether it might be a blessing in disguise.

D’Antoni stated his belief that some players might actually perform better without fans in the seats, adding there are guys who could be more comfortable simply translating their practice habits to the game rather than also having the added burden of fan reactions or fan energy.

Mike D’Antoni also noted that the absence of home-court advantage could benefit lower seeds when the league moves into the playoff format.

Of course, this is something which might benefit D’Antoni’s Rockets.

Houston is currently sixth in the Western Conference. The Rockets are also just one game back of the Utah Jazz for the No. 4 seed, while they are 2.5 games back of the Denver Nuggets for the No. 3 seed.

Given the eight-game conclusion to the regular season, the Rockets could certainly make up ground and improve their seeding. At the same time, as D’Antoni suggested, seeding might not matter as much in the absence of home-court advantage.

There were some questions as to whether Mike D’Antoni would be allowed on the Rockets bench during games once the action picks up, though.

Commissioner Adam Silver previously hinted older coaches might be restricted as part of the return-to-play plan. However, Silver has since rescinded those remarks. It remains to be seen whether coaches will have to wear face masks, though D’Antoni  said he would prefer not to be among the few wearing a mask simply due to his age.