It’s difficult to win in opposing NBA arenas. Players typically get to their spots on the floor more confidently. Sight lines are more familiar. The crowd being in your corner helps.
Maybe it was solely a scheduling fluke or the added pressure being home for Thanksgiving week carries with it in terms of distractions, but visiting teams won more games than their hosts on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Home teams went 3-2 on Saturday as Golden State broke the tie in an entertaining game against the Timberwolves.
Will things get back to normal now that the holiday week has passed and routines are restored? Monday’s care featured three road teams in a favorite’s role, but the rest of the week will see some teams that have struggled away from home attempt to reverse that trend.
San Antonio, 10-0 on the road, isn’t on the list. Fortunately for the rest of the league, the Spurs are home all week.
No team is sporting a greater discrepancy between success at home and struggles on the road than the Detroit Pistons, who enter the week 7-2 at the Palace of Auburn Hills and 1-8 elsewhere. They’ll be moving back downtown to share the new Little Caesar’s Arena with the NHL’s Red Wings next year, but have really made this most of this final season north of Detroit, even beating the Clippers and Thunder there.
The Pistons won’t play on their home floor again until Sunday and got their current four-game road trip off on the wrong foot when Oklahoma City got revenge with a 106-88 rout over the weekend.
Detroit now opens the week with a back-to-back at Charlotte and Boston before visiting Atlanta on Friday.
Those teams are each over .500 and have combined to win 60 percent of their home games, so Stan Van Gundy will have quite the challenge on his hands. The Pistons will be an underdog each time out, but may get a much-needed boost with point guard Reggie Jackson’s return imminent.
Jackson led Detroit in scoring (18.8) and averaged 6.2 assists last season, but hasn’t played this season due to knee and thumb injuries. He’ll likely be able to take the floor for the Hawks game, which will at least give the Pistons a bright spot to take forward with him regardless of how this trip goes.
Thus far, Detroit is sporting the fourth-lowest scoring output in the NBA (97.5), so Jackson’s return would provide a welcome upgrade from Ish Smith, who is shooting 38 percent in losses and is often exposed in mismatches due to his lack of size. After snapping a four-game losing streak with wins over the Heat and Clippers, the Thunder squashed whatever optimism Detroit had coming into this trip.
Look for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s response to going 0-for-6 from 3-point range in Oklahoma City to play a large role in the Pistons’ fortunes since he’d averaged 21.3 points and shot 9-for-18 from 3-point range in the previous three games. Each team the shooting guard will run into this week deploys elite perimeter defenders, bolstered by Nicolas Batum being cleared to return from an eye injury.
Washington has finally started getting its act together after stumbling to a 2-8 start. They won three of four for the first time all season before the Spurs ran through town and will host Sacramento before hitting the road to face Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Brooklyn in action this week.
The Wizards will want to enter next Monday’s game against the Nets with a chance at a winning road trip, but will be sizeable underdogs on the first two legs. They’ve got Markieff Morris back from an ankle injury and Ian Mahinmi finally debuted after offseason knee surgery, so it will be interesting to see whether Washington can start meeting expectations.
Since missing three games with an ankle injury, Bradley Beal has averaged 26.6 points, including explosions of 34 and 42 points. If he stays healthy, the Wizards won’t have a massive hole in the lineup and can better balance out their bench. It will be interesting to see if they flirt with an upset after opening the season will road losses in their first five outings after finally breaking through in Orlando over the weekend. When it takes the court in OKC, Washington will be looking for consecutive road wins for the first time since last March and only the third time since last All-Star break.
Out West, the L.A. Lakers embarked on their second four-game road trip of the season after treating Dwight Howard rudely in his one game against his former team, booing him while dispatching of the Hawks 109-94 despite the absence of D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.
While Russell is dealing with a knee injury expected to keep him out multiple weeks, Randle, who has been the team’s best player thus far, will probably overcome a hip pointer to play at some point this week. The Lakers will play at New Orleans on Tuesday, Chicago on Wednesday and at Toronto and Memphis in a weekend back-to-back, so they’ll be racking up the mileage at a point where multiple players are banged up.
Nick Young overcame a toe injury to lead the way against Atlanta, so success on this trip will likely hinge on him shooting it well and the likes of Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson and rookie Brandon Ingram playing well at both ends. Even at full strength, the young Lakers enter the week 3-5 on the road as opposed to 6-4 at Staples, so they may be a team to fade.