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Scotiabank Arena used to be a place opponents hated to play. For so long, it was one of the league’s best home-court advantages, a place the Toronto Raptors were dominant, where opponents knew they were going to be in for a very long night.

These days, though, it seems to mean nothing.

That’s not a slight at Raptors fans who have sold out — at least in terms of tickets — every single game this season despite the team’s 9-13 record and 2-8 record at home this year. It’s early, of course, but it’s strange that the Raptors who for so long were the kings of the home court have struggled so mightily at Scotiabank Arena compared to on the road where they’re 7-5 and have played like one of the league’s top teams.

Part of it may just be comfort level on the road, a somewhat strange though understandable paradox. Being at home creates distractions that the road doesn’t. There’s just a different routine on the road that can make things easier at times, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

Strangely, the hostile crowds can also be helpful. It creates an 'us against the world mentality' that some players, Fred VanVleet included, thrive off of.

“That’s just how I’m built,” VanVleet said Wednesday. “It’s an easier way to lock in when you know it’s you against the world and you gotta lock in, you gotta have some of the guts and the fight and the toughness to play on the road, that’s not for everybody.”

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Throughout his career, VanVleet has been a touch better on the road compared to at home. He’s averaged 13.5 points per game on the road compared to 11.8 in Toronto (or Tampa) and a higher offensive rating, better defensive rating, and higher field goal percentage when traveling.

“Playing at home you play off the crowd and you play with your emotions, I’m not really an emotional player or interacting with the crowd, celebrating and things like that so that never really was a part of my makeup,” he added. “But, going back to college and the way that I was coached in college, I was coached to play on the road and it’s just something I developed over time.”

Scottie Barnes’ college stats point in a similar direction. He averaged 9.8 points per game at home with the Florida State Seminoles compared to 10.9 points on the road or in neutral site games. His field goal percentage was also noticeably better, 55% away from Florida State compared to 45% at home.

“I like playing on the road,” said Barnes, who added playing at home is fine too. “The fans are going against you, they’re trying to hype up their team, so you’re going to get that hostile environment.”

But unless Raptors fans turn Scotiabank Arena into a hostile environment for the home team — which could happen if Toronto continues to win 20% of its games at home — the Raptors are going to have to adapt. And with 15 of their next 19 games at home, it better happen soon.

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