The Boston Celtics as it is, are one of the worst road teams out of the 16 teams in the playoffs (if Utah can make the playoffs then they would likely be the worst road team). They certainly have the worst road record in the Eastern Conference, and so I'm just trying to find out what it is that changes so much between playing on the road, and playing at home. Could it be one thing? A collection of things? And the most important question is: Can the Celtics fix it?
To start off, like I said earlier, the Celtics have the worst road record out of the 8 Eastern Conference playoff teams. There are only 3 teams in the ECT8 (Eastern Conference Top 8), that have a losing record. They are the Hawks, Bucks, and yours truly, the Celtics. The difference lies in the disparity. The Bucks are just 3 games under .500 on the road, the Hawks are only 2 games below .500, but the Celtics are a whopping 12 games below .500 in the road category.
At home, things aren't looking anywhere near that bad, but you want a balanced effort whether you're on the road, or at home. The Celtics have one of the better home records in the ECT8. They're only behind the Heat, Knicks, and Pacers for best home record. Interestingly enough, the 3 teams with the worst road records hold seeds 6-8. The 3 teams with the best home records hold seeds 1-3.
The biggest issue I've seen with the Celtics is not the offense, as it sometimes looks, but it's the defense that takes a sky dive when the Celtics play on the road. The Celtics will rarely beat teams by simply outscoring them, but they wear them down with their defense. When they can't defend their opponents, their opponents have a field day on them. But even if they do defend the opposition well, there's still no certainty that the Celtics will win, because they put the opposition on the free throw line a lot. The Celtics have managed to have a higher field goal percentage than their opponent for 7 out of the last 10 games. But their record for the last 10 games is only 4-6.
At home, the Celtics are lock down defenders. They have a defensive rating of 95.5 in TD Garden. When they're on the road though, this rating goes all the way up to 104.6. That's a difference of over 9 points per 100 possessions. No team in the ECT8 even comes close to having a defensive breakdown of that magnitude. The second worst was the Chicago Bulls, and the difference is 5.4 (97.4 at home, 102.8 on the road) but even then, they're still tied with the Knicks for the 2nd best road record in the ECT8.
I can understand a dip in the offense. Very rarely will you find a team that shoots or scores better on the road as opposed to at home, but why the defense? I understand that the opposition is almost always better offensively at home, but for there to be a drop in defensive production that severe, is not only strange, but it's troubling.
What are your thoughts? What are some reasons for the defense crumbling on the road? Could it be injuries? The plane or bus ride to get there? Pre-game food in the opposing arena?