Seattle -- Someone once described to me how a long road trip is like eating popcorn. The smell allures you as it's popping, it's so good when it's hot and fresh and you just enjoy grabbing handful after handful. But you keep eating it and it gets cold and rubbery and eventually gives you a stomach ache.
The Cavs play four of their next five games on the road, starting against the Sonics. It is on the road where the Cavs' success this season will be determined. Last year they were 13-28 on the road, which was actually worse than the 14-27 they were the year before. They had the best home record in the history of Gund/Quicken Loans Arena last season and yet were unable to qualify for the playoffs.
PhD candidates have done studies on why sport teams don't win on the road as much as at home. It goes beyond the "not sleeping in your own bed" theory, NBA players often like not sleeping in their own beds if you get my drift. I will also say that, unlike in college, almost all NBA arenas are the relatively the same* and, while the home crowd can play a role in various clutch situations, I would say it is quite rare they decide the game.
Mike Brown believes defense wins on the road and of course he is right**. But, then, defense wins at home, too, right?
It is my own personal opinion that the reason the Cavs haven't been a great road team has been a lack of experience. They kicked away numerous games on the road last season because they didn't know how to handle themselves. Like, when the home team is on a run, don't chuck a 3, drive to the damn basket and get a foul. Or running and gunning just because your opponent is running and gunning and you want to one-up a guy to silence the crowd. It is up to the coach to discourage this, but up to the players to execute it.
There a certain percentage of road games the Cavs are destined to win and those they are destined to lose. Some nights outside and supernatural factors*** determine the outcome, regardless the opponent. The thought process is veterans Donyell Marshall, Larry Hughes, Alan Henderson, and Damon Jones have the know-how to help the Cavs win these contests. It still remains to be seen if they will.
If you can stay awake long enough to watch the games out here on the coast, play close attention to the possessions the Cavs have when their opponent is on a run and how they react when the come out of timeouts, especially the ones they call to stop a run. Also, see if they execute offense or just hand the ball to LeBron and pray when they need a basket. These are the things that add up.
In the meantime, check out my latest podcast. In addition, in response to demand here and in my e-mail inbox, please keep an eye out in the Beacon Journal for Anderson Varejao and Martynas Andruiskevicius updates. Also, Monday I will be a guest on the Kenny Roda show on WKNR 850-AM at 5:40 p.m. EST. I'm currently in PST, and EST certainly beats the hell out of it.****
*-except for Sacramento and Indiana. Sac has a non-descript arena but the best fans in the league, Indy has the best building but the fans don't match.
**-Though, the Cavs did win a road game 123-120 in regulation this season.
***-In general, these do not include David Stern, despite what you've heard.
****-This may not be true.