Expert NBA Handicapping and Betting Advice: Home and Road Splits
Want a quick shorthand technique to evaluate where a team is at in the NBA - whether they are in a good place or not? Compare their road record to their home record. It's obviously easier to win at home than on the road. Really good teams, though, care much less about where they are playing. They just win. It's not as simple as saying that a team with a big gap in performance between the home record and the road record is a bad one, or one that we shouldn't trust as bettors. Surely you know that nothing is as simple as that. But when a team is a totally different team at home than they are on the road, we are left with something to examine closer. To see if we can understand why there is a difference and what it means. Here are seven teams with significant and interesting gaps in performances.
Miami (8-0 home, 7-6 road): The Heat are a surprise in so many ways this year. They are so young, but it is working. And Jimmy Butler has suddenly turned into a model citizen and a leader of men. But despite their success, the home record is an illusion. They have a win over Houston that is impressive, but the rest of those home wins are soft. They have beaten Memphis, Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, Charlotte and Golden State. The best of those teams is Charlotte, and they are only 9-14. We'd have to panic if they didn't have a good record against that group. It's not until things get tougher that we will really know anything about this team.
Boston (8-0, 7-5): The story might appear to be the same on the surface as it is with Miami, but it's not. Boston has wins at home against some very good teams - Toronto, Milwaukee, Dallas. They have hosted some weaker teams, too, of course, but they have shown some real chops in Boston. On the road they are less impressive, but they are still above .500, so there is likely no reason to panic.
Philadelphia (10-0, 5-7): The 76ers fit somewhere between the Heat and the Celtics in this story. Their home schedule has been a little tougher than Miami's but not nearly as tough as Boston's. So, a 10-0 record at home is fine, but not stunningly impressive. They have mostly taken care of business. And on the road, they have had losses in places like Washington, Orlando, and Oklahoma City. Teams that want to do what Philadelphia wants to do can't be losing to teams like that. This team concerns me for several reasons, and the road record is a big one.
Orlando (8-4, 2-7): The Magic have gone 6-2 in their last eight home games. They are playing solid basketball and showing some promise. Finally. But the road record is a different story. It's actually not so bad of late - they have won their last two road games to Washington and Cleveland. But they had lost seven straight before that, and probably three of those games were against teams that the Magic should be beating. We need to see more before we really know what this team is, but this road start is not promising.
Detroit (6-5, 2-9): Of all the teams on this list, I find this one the hardest to get worked up about. The explanation for this disparity? The team just isn't any good. They should be a touch better on the road probably, but they aren't built well. They shouldn't be winning a lot, and they aren't. They are mediocre in every way.
L.A. Clippers (13-1, 3-5): It's tough to get too worked up about this record. First, they haven't played much on the road yet, so the sample size is too small to be meaningful. They are 2-1 in their last three on the road, so it's not a major concern. And between the late start of Paul George, the aggressive load management and injury concerns with Kawhi Leonard, all the other changes on the roster, and everything else, it's a work in progress. This team was assembled for just one thing, and that doesn't start for months yet. They have shown enough to show they have it in them to be dangerous. And now we wait to see if it is enough. As long as they are in the playoffs, and preferably with home court for at least a round or two, I literally couldn't care less about their record at home, on the road, or on the moon. None of it means anything.
Utah (8-2, 4-8): I had, and still have, very high hopes for this Utah team this year. So, this start is a little problematic. But not necessarily massively so - they were 18-19 at the end of December last year, and they went on to win 50 games, so slow starts are part of what they do. I wish they were in a much better place right now - they have lost five of six, with the only win coming against a lousy Memphis team, and the losses all coming to strong playoff contenders. But until January rolls around, I am willing to nervously give them the benefit of the doubt. They have too much on paper to be this bland.
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