Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not Over Til Somone Loses at Home

Since the start of May both the NHL and NBA playoffs have been on meaning that there has always been something good on TV and also no shortage of people talking and writing about sports. In the case of the latter many people have been quick to over react to teams winning or losing one game and quickly proclaiming the series to be over.  I am here to tell people that a series isn't over until someone loses at home.

Now I don't mean that if the Magic beat the Lakers tonight that the series is over and that the Magic have won.  What I am trying to say is that a team is expected to win at home and therefore if a road team loses two games in a row there is no need to worry.

A great example is the Stanley Cup Finals series between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Detroit won the first 2 games, at home, and were quickly pronounced champions by the public.  Pittsburgh then responded with 2 straight wins, also at home, and were said to have rallied back and taken control of the series.

Detroit won game 5 at home last night making the series 3-2 meaning both teams have only won games at home.  The next game will be held in Pittsburgh and if the trend continues the Pens will win forcing a deciding game 7.

This isn't the only example though as numerous series have started this way and have prompted people to prematurely make a judgement.  I can see how it would be easy to say a series is over if a team grabs a 2-0 lead but it cannot be stressed enough how important playing at home really is.

For example in the NBA only 1 team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, won more games on the road than they did at home going 11-30 at home and 13-28 on the road.  In the NHL only the Leafs, Ducks, and Oilers won more games on the road than they did at their home arenas.

The simple fact is that teams play better at home.  This happens for a number of reasons.  The fans get them pumped up, pride of winning at home, in the case of hockey players get a better feel for the way the puck bounces off of the boards, and finally the simple fact that if you're playing at home it means you spent the night before in your own bed in your own home.

This is why the home advantage cannot be ignored yet constantly is by almost everybody who talks about sports.  For instance I watched Around the Horn the other day and all of them said that the Magic/Lakers series was over.  It has been 1 game!  The Magic could very easily come back and win the series. 

The way the format for the NBA playoffs is set up there are the higher seeded team gets the first 2 games at home, then plays 3 in a row on the road finishing with 2 games at home.  This means that if both teams win all their home games that the higher seeded team will win the series. This is why getting home court advantage is such a big deal.

So if the Lakers win tonight just remember that the next 3 games are in Orlando where the Magic have the advantage.   

Don't jump to quick conclusions after only one or two games because as the expression goes, a series isn't a series until somebody loses at home.

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