How much better are the Miami Heat at home than on the road? It turns out, the answer is “a lot better”. Yes, I know this is not surprising at all — of course a team is going to better at home than on the road. But the difference between Miami at home and Miami on the road was surprising.
Miami’s offensive rating drops from 114.4 points scored per 100 possessions at home to 106.6 points scored per 100 possessions on the road. Basically, Miami’s offense scores 8 points less per 100 possessions on the road, then they do at home. However, Miami’s defense actually improves on the road, giving up 100.6 points per 100 possessions versus 101.6 points per 100 possessions at home. In total, Miami’s net rating drops from a point differential of 12.8 per 100 possessions at home to a point differential of 5.9 per 100 possessions on the road — it drops by more than 50%! (However, to put some perspective on it, Miami Heat on the road play at about the level the Clippers (O-Rating: 106.9, D-Rating: 100.3) have played all year, which is not bad at all).
One reason behind this drop off, especially from the standpoint of offensive efficiency, is a significant decrease in Miami’s assist-turnover ratio when they are on the road. Part of the reason that the assist-turnover ratio decreases on the road is that Miami’s true shooting percentage decreases (no surprise) — so obviously if they make less shots on the road, their assist numbers will decrease. However, Miami also turns the ball over slightly more, with their turnover percentage increasing from 13.5% (home) to 17.1% (road). So the combination of these two factors inhibits the assist-turnover ratio, and also illustrates how Miami’s highly touted offense loses some of its killer effectiveness on the road.
Yes, the fact that the Heat play better at home than on the road is not a mind-boggling conclusion. But Miami’s drop off away from home means that if any team wants to beat the Heat in a playoff series, they are going to have to steal a game at Miami, and then win all of their home games — a prospect that sounds a lot easier than it is. However, if Miami steals a game on the road in a playoff series (and like I said before, its not like Miami plays horribly on the road; they play at roughly the same level as the Clippers) then it will be extremely hard to beat them because they are so good at home.