Road teams off to flying start in NBA playoffs
MIAMI (AP) Here’s the list of teams that had home-court advantage entering the opening round of these NBA playoffs: Indiana, Miami, Toronto, Chicago, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Here’s the list of teams that still held that advantage after Wednesday night: Miami.
Road teams are off to a ridiculously hot start in the NBA playoffs, with seven of the eight lower seeds either leading or tied after the first two games of their respective series. Home teams are only 7-9 through the first 16 games of the postseason, the worst record – by far – that clubs with the supposed edge have had at this point in the playoffs since the NBA went to the best-of-seven format for every round.
At this point in last year’s playoffs, home teams were 14-2. Over the last three postseasons, home teams got off to 39-9 starts. But this year, a trend that started on Saturday when road teams won the first three games has pretty much kept holding true, more than anyone likely would have expected when the playoffs began.
”I didn’t,” Houston’s Jeremy Lin said, when asked if he fathomed the Rockets could have been in an 0-2 hole at home.
Well, they are, after Portland – with LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way – took Game 2 of that matchup on Wednesday night. And just like that, the Blazers are halfway to the second round, probably much faster than they even expected.
”It’s not over,” Aldridge said. ”Just like we came here and won two, they’re probably thinking the same thing.”
Chicago also dropped two games at home to open its series with Washington, stunning since the Bulls had dropped consecutive games in their building only once in 2014 before entering the playoffs.
The Rockets and Bulls are in the most trouble, but they’re not the only clubs in hot water. Indiana split at home against eighth-seeded and sub-.500 Atlanta; Toronto needed to dig deep to salvage a home split with sixth-seeded Brooklyn; the Clippers gave home-court away to sixth-seeded Golden State by losing Game 1 and settling for another split; and not even the heroics of Kevin Durant could save Oklahoma City at home in Game 2 against Memphis.
Even the powerful Spurs couldn’t hold serve at home. They hadn’t lost to Dallas in San Antonio since 2010 – that is, until getting blown out there on Wednesday, 113-92.
”It is a monumental task, but we are in this thing to win,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. ”We aren’t in it just to get a split and be happy. We can’t do that.”
The only team that did what it was supposed to do at home – open with a pair of victories – was, oddly enough, the only team that has held the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the last two postseasons. Miami didn’t exactly overwhelm Charlotte on Wednesday night, but did enough for a 101-97 win that gave the Heat a 2-0 series lead.
”That’s always been a staple of ours, to be able to protect home,” Miami’s LeBron James said. ”When we got together, we said if we protect home we’d give ourselves a great chance to win a championship. It starts in this round, obviously. If we’re fortunate enough to be able to move on we want to protect home, but to be able to take care of the first two games in our home building and play our best brand of basketball that we’re capable of playing is very uplifting.”
Visiting teams won only 36 percent of their games in last season’s playoffs, but now that the higher-seeded – theoretically, better – teams are hitting the road, this is where the winning by the guys who aren’t in the white uniforms is supposed to start. And it wouldn’t be a shock to see those clubs respond with some road wins in the next few days.
Of the higher-seeded teams in this round, only the Clippers didn’t have a regular-season road win over their current playoff opponent this season.
”It’s not over with,” Houston’s Dwight Howard said. ”It’s the first team to four.”
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