Thursday, February 5, 2009

Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Too Focused On Winning At Home?

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been very good at home this year, so good, in fact, that some would even say perfect. Actually that person would be me. The Cavs have used a 23-0 record at Quicken Loans arena to propel them to the top of the Eastern Conference and they have done it in an impressive way. The win streak has been accented with blowout victories over legitimate NBA Championship contenders like Boston, New Orleans and Denver and has established "the Q" as one of the toughest places to play in the NBA. But while winning every time out has endeared the Cavs to the Cleveland faithful and intimidated future opponents, it may hurt them in the long run.

Ok, Ok, my argument isn't that the Cavs need to lose games to become a better team, because that doesn't make sense. They do need to become a more consistent team though. While Cleveland has been incredible at home, their performance on the road has suffered lately. The 39-9 Cavs have only been able to go 7-5 in their last twelve road games, including being run out of the gym by the Magic, Lakers and Bulls.

In each of the 5 recent losses the Cavs have scored 16 or fewer points in at least one quarter. They also did not shoot better than 46.5% in any of these games, despite a robust 48.9% field goal percentage on their home floor this season. Both of these stats point to prolonged mental lapses during road games that are resulting in losses. It's not much of a stretch to say that because the Cavs are so focused on keeping their home winning streak going that they are less prepared or intense for road games.

So here's the point. Cleveland can't afford to be giving away road games. They are in a dogfight with the returning NBA champion Boston Celtics for home court advantage in the East (the same Celtics team the Cavs lost a game 7 to in Boston last year). It would be much better for Lebron and company to drop a home game and play much more consistently on the road than it would be for the Cavs to go 42-0 at the Q (not to mention they aren't going to do it anyway).

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