The Lakers recently have been dismissive of their poor start to the season, which has included a 3 game and 4 game losing streak against one of the weakest SoS in the league. On one hand, Mark Medina makes a valid point that Game 7 last year against the Celtics would probably have turned out much differently in a TD Garden madhouse. Brian Kamentzky of ESPN Los Angeles further reiterates the point, noting that only 23% of road teams have won the Finals since the league went to a 16 team format.
Of even greater concern is that the Lakers, on a collision course for their 4th consecutive Finals appearance in 2011, have still not proven they are more than a one Kobe show on the road in the Finals, even those that they have won. The statistics speak volumes. These are Kobe and Pau’s stats home and away during the 2008 finals
Pau Gasol 2008 and 2010 Finals Home and Away Statistics
Kobe Bryant 2008 and 2010 Finals Home and Away Statistics
While Kobe actually (and perhaps not surprisingly) improved on the road, Pau (the so-called most skilled big on the planet), averaged a mediocre 15-9-3 line during 6 road games against the Celtics — a stat line that may make David Lee’s grandmother proud, but was far from dominating. In the safe confines of Staples, Pau averaged 27% more PPG and 34% more RPG. With this in mind, it is safe to say the Lakers may have dodged a bullet last year with LeChoke and his fellow Cavs bowing out early against the Celtics.
So, all this being said, how do the Lakers homecourt chances look from here on out? Actually, not as bad as one may think. First, let’s assume that homecourt is really only important in the Finals, since it is unlikely that the Spurs and Mavericks will beat the Lakers in a 7 game series, regardless of where on the planet that series is played. That really leaves the Celtics and the Heat as the primary obstacles. The Celtics are well ahead of the Lakers, however, they have an old team that is already coming aparas the season wears on. The Scheme Team is just 1.5 games ahead of the Lakers and have played 3 less road games. To get homecourt, the Lakers probably need to win around 62 games, which would require them to finish 40-10.
Difficult yes? But do the Lakers know any way different?