Sunday, May 11, 2008

Road Woes

So it's about halfway through the 2nd round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs and I've been hearing a lot about road struggles of teams and can provide and pretty simple explanation - inexperience. So far in the 2nd round a total of ONE road game has been won. I think the experience factor is catching up to teams. In the 1st round, generally it won't show as much because matchups work out so that one team is just generally better than the other. In the round, it's easy to see. 7 of the 8 teams remaining are either young or inexperienced in playing with each other. The exception being Detroit and not by coincidence, they are the one team with a road win. Let's take a look:

LA Lakers/Utah Jazz: This team has arguably been together for a few seasons now, but their 2nd option, Pau Gasol, has been with them for less than half a season and all of their supporting cast is young still even if they have emerged. They beat an overmatched team in the 1st round (Denver) in 4 games simply because they were that much better. This round, they got the Western Conference Finalists of last season and a great home team. This one's looking like it could go 7, even though I think the Lakers will win.

New Orleans Hornets/San Antonio Spurs: This one isn't as much about the Spurs losing in New Orleans (Chris Paul is just unstoppable and his teammates play better at home - simple as that) as it is about the Hornets discovering themselves in a tough series. I think the Spurs will extend the Hornets as long as they possibly can, but not having homecourt could eventually hurt them since these Hornets are clearly legitimate and around to stay for a while. Next season, they will be amongst the favorites for the title.

Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers: The Celtics are simply a better team than the Cavaliers. They were also the best road team in the league during the regular season. I will blame this on the coaching. They had a rotation set for 3/4 of the season and went away from it. Now they look sketchy on the road. The team is experienced and has leadership, just not a coach who can decide on what he wants to do in crunch time. They need to figure out their road issues soon though because I do believe Detroit can beat Boston at least once in Boston. The Cavs are just too overmatched in this series to steal one away from home. The best they can do is hold court at home and hope for some ridiculous Lebron game 7 heroics.

Detroit Pistons/Orlando Magic: The worst series. Orlando has been a team full of holes all season and it's quite clear in this series. They just match up terribly against these Pistons. They don't have a PG big enough for Chauncey Billups, a swingman fast enough or athletic enough to chase and stick with Rip Hamilton, nor a swingman good enough to keep Tayshaun Prince at bay. Just awful. I can't wait for the Conference Finals.

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