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Scoring on the Road a Difficult Proposition

   by ASA - 05/13/2008

The phrase, “The series doesn’t start until the home team loses,â€쳌 is uttered often this time of the year. With the NBA and NHL Playoffs in full swing and 7-game series often coming down to what team can defend its home court, that expression certainly has its validity. Never more so than in the second round of the NBA’s postseason, where the home teams have dominated thus far.

The home team has combined to go 15-1 SU and 13-2-1 ATS in the second round so far. The lone outright win came in Game 4 of the Detroit-Orlando series, where the Pistons stole a 1-point win from the Magic on a questionable non-call in the final seconds. Otherwise, the home teams could be looking at a perfect 16-0 mark right now.

The biggest issue holding the visitors back is the most basic of deciding factors. They simply can’t put the ball in the basket. Scoring at home hasn’t been the issue for the remaining squads. Scoring away from home has been a whole other story, though, at least in the second round.

All eight remaining teams have averaged fewer points on the road than at home and, in most cases, there is a significant difference. The Celtics, who owned the league’s best road mark during the regular season but have yet to win away from home during the postseason, own the smallest scoring differential but that’s only because they can’t really score at home either. Boston is averaging 82.5 points per game at home and just 80.5 points per game on the road.

Boston’s second-round foe Cleveland has a far greater differential. The Cavs averaged 98 points per game in winning Games 3 and 4 at home after averaging just 72.5 points per game in Boston, a difference of 25.5 points per game.

The other Eastern Conference semifinal, between Detroit and Orlando, is following the lead of Boston-Cleveland. Detroit is averaging 95.5 points per game at home but just 88 points per game in Orlando. In fairness, that difference can be chalked up to Chauncey Billups playing less than four minutes in Orlando. The Magic have no such excuse, averaging 100 points per game at home and a mere 82.5 points per game in Detroit.

The Western Conference, as most would expect, as has seen higher overall scoring outputs but has suffered from the same traveling affliction as the East. The Lakers are averaging 114.5 points per game in the Staples Center but just 103.5 points per game in regulation in Utah’s EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz are putting up similar numbers with 113.5 points per game at home and 104 per game on the road.

The second-seeded Hornets and third-seeded Spurs have both seen considerable differences in point production. New Orleans averaged 101.5 points per game at home in jumping out to a 2-0 series lead but couldn’t get the lid off the basket on the road, averaging just 89.5 points per game.

San Antonio, one would think, shouldn’t suffer this same problem based on its postseason experience. But not even the playoff-proven Spurs can escape this epidemic. They have averaged 105 points per game at home but just 83 points per game in New Orleans, a difference of 22 points per game and the second-biggest margin of the second round.

Low-scoring efforts on the road haven’t really affected the totals much, though. The under is just 8-7-1 as the high scores from the home teams have balanced out the low scores of the visiting teams. These vast scoring differentials have led to some massive blowouts in the second round. The average margin of victory for the home teams is a robust 13.9 points per game with 11 of the 15 wins coming by double digits.

Will these trends continue throughout the remainder of the second round and into the conference finals? You’ll just have to stay tuned.

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