Through the first 11 games of the 2014-2015 regular season, the Blazers are 8-3 and tied for the fifth best record in the NBA. They are second in the league in offensive efficiency (impressive), eighth in the league in defensive efficiency (surprising and impressive) and are currently riding a five game winning streak that has my Portland friends more excited about that than the new In-N-Out supposedly going up in Medford.
Looking at the standings, you can’t help but notice the disparity between the Blazers home and away records. As it stands, the Blazers are 7-1 at home and 1-2 on the road. So far, only one other team (Toronto) has played eight home games, and only two other teams have played three or fewer away games (Toronto and LAC).
It’s no secret that most teams play better at home, but what’s interesting is that the Blazers seem to play a slightly different style of basketball in the Moda Center, as opposed to on the road.
Let's take a look:
Like I said earlier, the Blazers are currently eighth in the NBA in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions). To put that into perspective, they rank just below Washington and Chicago, and are tied with Indiana – all good company.
In their eight home games this season, the Blazers have looked like the late 70’s Steel Curtain, allowing just 99.4 points per 100 possessions. Hypothetically, that would rank fifth overall, just behind Memphis. They’ve been great in regards to protecting the rim and not fouling - allowing just 21.3 attempts per game, and they’re forcing on average three more turnovers per game at home.
In their three road games (Denver, LAC, Sacramento), the Blazers have allowed 114.4 points per 100 possessions. Bad Sign #1: That’s 15 more than at home. Bad Sign #2: 114.4 points per 100 possessions is one point more than Byron Scott’s YMCA team is allowing in LA. Another home vs. away discrepancy: free-throw attempts. The Blazers are allowing 32.7 attempts per game - 11 more than at home. Gruden Voice: Not good, Mike. Not good.
The Blazers are tied with New Orleans as the second best offensive team in the league, averaging 109.1 points per 100 possessions. By my calculations, that makes them hotter than the new issue of Paper Magazine and saying "bae" on Instagram.
If you’ve ever rooted against the Blazers at the Moda Center (I have many times), you’d agree that anytime Nicolas Batum or Wesley Matthews or Damian Lillard shoots a three, it feels like it’s going to go in. It hard to explain, but it just feels like the Blazers don’t miss at home – or at least when I’m there. Unfortunately, the numbers say otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, the Blazers are still a very good offensive team at home, but for some reason, whether it’s game plan, opponents or something else, the Blazers are offensively less efficient at home. With an Offensive Efficiency Rating of 111.7, they’re scoring about four points less per possession than on the road. They are also attempting two fewer three-pointers, four fewer free-throws and assisting on about 1.5 fewer baskets. One area where they are better at home – rebounding. The Blazers average six more rebounds per game at home compared to on the road.
The sample size is obviously small, but right now the Blazers are a more efficient offensive team on the road. Check out their sky-high road OER rating of 115.2. To put that into perspective, the highest OER in the league right now is Dallas at 114.9.
If we dig a little deeper, the numbers show that the Blazers simply play a more aggressive style of offense when they’re on the road. Not only do they average four more points per 100 possessions, they attempt more three-pointers, and more free-throws.
Wrapping up: the Blazers are a horrible road defensive team, and a 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers-esque home defensive team. On offense, they're scoring at a higher clip on the road than they are at home, but the margin is much smaller.