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Tough Road to Score

Tough Road to Score

Tough Road to Score

The phrase, “The series doesn’t start until the home team loses,” 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 one-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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Re: Tough Road to Score

Tracking NBA playoff totals and home-court advantage
By Jason Crowe

Everyone has heard that defense wins championships, but have you ever utilized this mindset when making your picks? Before you rush to place all your wagers on the under, let’s take the time to evaluate some trends from last year’s playoffs, as well as those that are developing so far in this year’s playoffs.

Over/under in all playoff games (2007-2008)

Although the over/under favored the under in last year’s playoffs, the difference may not be as predominant as you would think as just 53.2 percent of all games finished under the total. This year, though May 11, 54.2 percent (32 of 59) of games have finished beneath the total. Last year’s second round and finals showed the most prevalent discrepancy of all rounds concerning the over/under - 56.5 percent (13 of 23) and 75 percent (three of four), respectively of those games finished under.

Over/under in Game 4 of all playoff series (2007-2008)

One of the most striking trends from last year’s playoffs was the over/under outcome in Game 4s as 11 out of 15 (73.3 percent) went under the total. For series after the first round, the over/under ratio was 2-5 (71.4 percent). This year’s playoffs have started out following the same way - all first round Western Conference Game 4s this year, and six out of eight (75 percent) of all Game 4s, have finished under the total. It was 2-1 under this past weekend, so overall the under is 8-3 in all Game 4s this year.

Favorites covering the spread (2007-2008)

This year’s playoffs have been dominated by the heavy favorites as 22 out of 35 (62.9 percent) favorites have covered a spread when laying more than five points in this year’s playoffs. The second round has been dominated by the favorites as well, with 12 of 15 (80.0 percent) covering the spread so far. The favorites in last year playoffs, after the first round, covered 55.6 percent (20 out of 36) of the time.

Home teams covering the spread (2007-2008)

Last year’s second round, conference finals and finals followed a convincing trend, a 21-15 ratio against the spread (ATS) in favor of the home team. With a 62.1 percent (36 out of 58) record ATS, the home teams have more than laid a solid ground work in this year’s playoffs also. The top four seeds this year: Celtics, Lakers, Hornets, and Pistons, have dominated their respective home courts so far. These four top-tier teams have covered 17 out of 20 games ATS in the playoffs this year.

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