Home Court Rules
For some reason, the Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets didn't get the memo, but this is the postseason of Homecourt Advantage.
It hit me last night, right about the time LeBron James jackhammered that powerful and stupendous dunk over Kevin Garnett and then later when Anderson Varejao hit back-to-back jump shots during a painful-to-watch, 88-77 victory that allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers even their series with Boston at two games apiece.
Road teams just haven't been getting it done in the playoffs. Through the first two rounds, home teams have won 75 percent of their games (45-15), which the Elias Sports Bureau says would be the first time home teams have had such a high winning percentage since 1990, when the home teams went 54-18 (.750).
The Wizards, Sixers, Rockets and Nuggets are still the only teams to suffer two home losses this postseason, while Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets and San Antonio Spurs have yet to lose at home. Home teams are a staggering 15-1 in the conference semifinals, with the Orlando Magic the only team unable to hold serve at home.
The biggest offender of poor postseason road outings has been the Celtics, who dropped to 0-5 away from home this season after last night's loss in Cleveland. The most staggering part about the Celtics' dismal play on the road is that they had an NBA-best 31 road wins this season. They became the first team since Sacramento in 2001 to sweep the Texas Triangle of Dallas, San Antonio and Houston last March. They've won in Detroit, Los Angeles and Utah. But somehow, they couldn't win in three tries in Atlanta (???) and they have lost all four games in Cleveland this season (including two in the regular season).
This is the first time in NBA history that the team with the league's best road record failed to win any of its first five road playoff games. And for those Celtics fans hoping for Banner No. 17, no team has ever won an NBA title after starting the playoffs 0-5 on the road - and no NBA champion has ever won fewer than three road playoff games.
The woes are understandable with terrible road teams like Utah, but it is a bit odd that the four best road teams in the regular season - Boston, the Lakers (27 road wins), Orlando (27) and New Orleans (26) - are winless on the road in the conference finals.
You know there is something to this homecourt advantage thing when Varejao outscored K.G. in the fourth quarter, 4-0, while Daniel "Boobie" Gibson outscored Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, 8-6.
My point? It was not necessarily just a knock on the Celtics' so-called Big Three - more on them later - I'm really just trying to point at that the reason homecourt advantage is huge, especially in the postseason, especially now, where parity is more prevalent than ever in the NBA. These teams are so close in talent and ability, and you cannot discount the importance of role players because they generally step up at home, when they get inspired by the home crowd, home cooking and home pillows.
Star players are generally consistent no matter where they play, but the role players provide the difference at home, which explains why Varejao, Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith and Delonte West (in Game 3) came up big for the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena - and players like Sam Cassell, Leon Powe and James Posey delivered for the C's at TD Banknorth Garden. Those players were nowhere to be found away from the comforts of home.
You can look at the same scenario playing out in the New Orleans-San Antonio series (where Chris Paul has been superb on every floor while Peja Stojakovic played like an all-star at New Orleans Arena and couldn't make a layup at AT&T Center) and the Lakers-Jazz series (where the Lakers bench was huge in the first two games, but almost non-existent in Salt Lake).
At some point, you sort of expect this to change, since it's said so often that a playoff series doesn't really begin until somebody wins on the road. Does that mean the only series that has begun is Detroit-Orlando, which could come to an end tonight?
Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: prescrunk | May 13, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mark | May 13, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jeff | May 13, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Rook | May 13, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: knightwolfe871 | May 18, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.