Handicapping NBA Road Trips
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 1/27/2010
Rodeos, the circus or Disney on Ice can all play a factor in an NBA team’s fortunes. These events can book an arena for up to two weeks at a time and send NBA teams on the dreaded extended road trip to the other side of the country.
Every sport has its road trips that send West Coast teams to the East Coast and vice versa but in the NBA these long road trips seem to make good teams bad and bad teams worse and they can often can make or break a season.
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The trips range from three games and can go up to eight in the most extreme circumstances.
There are the obvious reasons for why the teams on an extended leave from home struggle. For one, they are playing on the road, obviously, which is always a tough thing to do in the NBA, they are traveling city to city sleeping in different hotels every night and they are unable to establish any sort of rhythm.
Another often overlooked reason is that the team making the road trip is visiting the arena for the only time that year and the crowd is generally more up for the game as is the home team.
During the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent East Coast road trip they had to play in front of packed crowds at Quicken Loans Arena, Madison Square Garden and the Air Canada Centre. The Lakers started their eight-game road trip with two losses in three games. This is coming from a team who was 32-9 before the road trip.
The Boston Celtics, even at full strength back in late December headed to the West Coast and were swept by the Clippers, Warriors and Suns in the span of four days. Another top dog in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers, went on a recent five-game road swing out west in the beginning of January and managed to win three of five but the Cavaliers were 1-3-1 ATS.
The Eastern Conference’s other top team, the Orlando Magic have suffered on the West Coast, too. In early December the Magic were 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS and two weeks ago the Magic dropped three straight games on a West Coast road trip.
Road trip woes are not just for the NBA elite. The atrocious New Jersey Nets become even worse when they head to the West Coast. On their two four-game road trips out west the Nets are a combined 0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS.
There are plenty of extended road trips still on tap for most teams in the league. When looking to bet a road team take into account how long they have been on the road. Teams to avoid coming up are the Boston Celtics, who head out to the West Coast starting on Feb. 16 at Sacramento for four games. The Los Angeles Clippers are in the midst of a seven-game road trip in the east that goes until a Feb. 3 game at Atlanta.
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