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Road Warriors

January 10, 2014

*Stats through Wednesday night's game vs. New Orleans

For some reason, the Wizards have become dominant on the road while floundering at home.  On the year, the Wizards are 7-8 at home and 9-9 on the road.  Going into Friday night's contest, the Wizards, over their last 16 games (or since the start of December), have won six of eight away from Verizon Center and have lost six of eight in their home barn.  Needless to say, this sort of inverted streak probably hasn't happened that often in NBA history.  But why can't they win at home?  In the NBA this season, home teams win approximately 66% of the time.  On the other hand, the Wizards have only 43% of their wins at home, and over their last 16 games, just 25%.  On the year, the Wizards are one of seven teams in the league to have a better record on the road than at home.  This seemed like a high number to me, so I went back and looked at the last three years of NBA standings.  I found that only two teams finished the year with a higher winning percentage on the road than at home: the 2011-12 Kings and the 2012-13 Nets, neither of which made the playoffs.  Since over the last three years only about 2% of teams' seasons have finished with the teams having a higher road winning percentage, it's reasonably safe to assume that the Wizards’ percentages will return to the norm.  Thus, it's great to have these road wins now, because odds dictate that at some point the Wizards are going to go on a run at home, whereas you never know if a road run like the Wizards are on now will ever happen during the season.  Granted this is a guess because past results certainly don't dictate future occurrences, but at least it's an educated guess. 

That leads us to the next question: what is happening on the road that isn't happening at home?  The answer is nothing.  Nothing is different.  Basically, the Wizards are playing the same basketball at home as they are on the road for the season.  They are shooting 44.6% at home and 44.8% on the road.  They are allowing opponents to shoot 46% at home and 46.5% on the road.  This is unique though, because the average NBA team performs significantly better at home than on the road.  What makes the shooting on the road even more impressive is that the Wizards shot selection is much better at home.  At home, they get far more looks in the paint and take much fewer mid-range jumpers.  41% of the Wizards' shots are in the paint at home, while only 35% on the road are in the paint.  The Wizard are 20th in the league in shooting percentage at home and 12th on the road with virtually the same percentage.  The Pacers for instance shoot 47.1% at home and just 43.5% on the road.  Keep in mind that if the Pacers had shot 47.1% over the whole year that would rank fourth in the NBA while 43.5% would be 25th.  So those 3.5 percentage points are a massive difference. 

Based on the shot charts, we can see that the team is shooting from distance much better on the road, while finishing at the rim much better at home.  First shot chart is at home, second is on the road.

From all this, we can glean that the Wizards winning on the road but not at home is not something to worry about.  In fact, having these road wins in the back pocket might prove to be crucial as things even out over the course of the year.   Over the last several years, the Wizards have been a SIGNIFICANTLY better home team, and they will round into form at home, at some point.  Hopefully, this will be sooner rather than later.