Elite NBA teams win on the road

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Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook

It’s no secret that in the NBA, in order to be an elite team-you have to win on the road. The Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and the San Antonio Spurs have a few things in common: these teams all have aging veterans, these teams have won 8 of the last 10 championships; and they all have losing records on the road so far this season.

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Wait a minute! Losing road records for the most dominant teams in recent memory? How can this be? How can teams that are used to winning games at home and on the road all of sudden be losing on the road? The shortened season is definitely a contributing factor. Every team is playing games more frequently to make up for the condensed season. So when older teams play this type of schedule, the fluidity of games takes its toll. This is why we’re seeing older teams like the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs struggling right now on the road.

There was a time when the aforementioned teams were elite. Elite in the sense that they were virtually unbeatable at home and that same trend continued on the road. Any decent team in this league can win games on their home court. In fact, most average teams can manage to win in front of their home crowd. However, championships aren’t won by decent or average teams, they’re won by elite teams. And those same elite teams have the ability to walk onto someone else’s floor and beat them like they’re playing at home have historically been winners.

The Lakers along with the Celtics and Spurs used to be in that category. They used to have swagger when they stepped onto someone else’s floor. And why not? Most of the time there were more fans cheering for them than the home team. However, now it looks like the paradigm has shifted. The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls both have the league’s best road records. 12-5 and 14-6 respectfully. They also fall into the elite team category as well. Something the Lakers, Celtics, and Spurs used to have.

Terrance Shumake is a featured journalist for TSB and follow him on twitter @tmshumake

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