The Pacers' road woes are extreme

Rob Carr

Part of the Pacers' problem is how much worse they are on the road than the average team.

Every single team in the NBA is better at home than on the road. You can't find even one team in 2014 that has a better road scoring margin than their home scoring margin. The home court advantage in the NBA is absolute.

Home efficiency differential is home net efficiency minus road net efficiency. Net efficiency is offensive rating minus defensive rating. It's basically pace-adjusted scoring margin. Per's stats page, the league average home efficiency differential is +5.67. That is split evenly on offense and defense. Teams are, on average, 2.8 points better offensively and defensively at home when compared to the road.

But not all teams are created equal here. Some teams, like the Pistons, Bucks and 76ers, are horrible both at home and on the road. Playing on the road doesn't hurt their chances as much as an average team: the Pistons and Bucks home efficiency differential is less than one point per 100 possessions.

And some teams are totally brilliant at home while decidedly mediocre on the road. Chief among them: your Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers are 5.4 points per 100 better on offense at home and a whopping 8.3 points per 100 better on defense at home. Remember, the average NBA team is 2.8 points per 100 better on offense at home and 2.8 points per 100 better on defense at home. Indiana is twice as good offensively and nearly three times as good defensively at home than the average team.

To put it another way: the league average home efficiency differential is +5.6. The Pacers are an incredible +13.7. Indiana's performance at home (+11.6) is the best in the league, better than the Spurs, Clippers or Heat. But the Pacers rank No. 15 in road performance (-2.1), fifth in the East and below every potential playoff team in the West and the Wolves.

How in the heck does that happen?


Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Out of Dean Oliver's famous Four Factors, teams typically perform worse on the road in three of them on both sides of the ball. This season, teams' free throw rate and foul rate are four percent worse on the road. Their shooting, shooting defense, offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding are three percent worse on the road. There is no appreciable, league-wide home-road split in turnover rate or turnover creation. Put simply, teams' performance in shooting, shooting defense, rebounding and in free throw tallies is 3-4 percent worse on average on the road than at home.

But check out the Pacers' splits.


Indiana's on track with the league's home-road splits in shooting and free throw rate, a bit worse in turnover rate and a good bit better in defensive rebounding. In the other four categories, Indiana is stunningly awful on the road compared to at home. The worst look is on the offensive glass, where the Road Pacers underperform the Home Pacers by 12 percent. Foul rate is an ugly story, too: the road version is 11 percent worse.


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But the most important disaster on the chart is the shooting defense fall-off. At home, Indiana allows opponents to shoot an effective field goal percentage of just .441. The league average for home defensive eFG is .494. On the road, the Pacers allow opponents a rather more pedestrian .479 eFG.

If you assume 80 field goal attempts, that home-road split is worth six points per game by itself. And now we begin to see why Indiana's split is so massive.

Now, the question becomes why the Pacers' offensive rebounding, shooting defense, foul rate and turnover creation are so much worse on the road compared to most NBA teams. We'll look at individual positions and players in The Hook on Friday.

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