The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors have played eight times this year – three times during the regular season and five times in the playoffs. The home team is 8-0.
Even more telling is just how dominant the home team has been, especially in the playoffs. Cleveland has won Games 1, 2 and 5 by an average of 29.3 points. Toronto won Games 3 and 4 by an average of 10.5 points.
Why is this happening?
“Well, that’s the million-dollar question,” Cleveland’s 92.3 “The Fan” Cavs insider Chris Fedor said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think what it comes down to is Toronto has shown throughout this postseason that they’re just a different team away from Air Canada Centre. They’re now 2-7 on the road so far here in the playoffs and they average 10 less points per game away from the Air Canada Centre. So when they have to travel and they have to come to Cleveland– and Cleveland has shown to be the better team in this series already – it’s been an uphill battle for them.”
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan played great in Games 3 and 4, combining for 52 and 67 points, respectively. In Games 1, 2 and 5, however, they combined for 26, 32 and 27 points, respectively.
“The main story coming into this series was whether the Raptors had enough offensive firepower to hang with the Cavs, who came into this series second overall in the postseason in points per game,” Fedor said. “In the three games in Cleveland, the answer has been no. In the two games in Toronto – because of the way that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan played in those games and the way Toronto defended at home – the answer was yes. I think that’s what’s going to happen in Game 6. If the Cavs find a way to get this offense traveling to Toronto, then I think you’re going to have the same thing. If not, you might be coming back to Game 7 here in Cleveland.”
Fedor believes that the rest of the series – Game 6 is Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET., while Game 7, if necessary, is Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET – will come down to pace.
“If the game is played in the 90s, I think the Raptors win,” Fedor said. “If the game gets into the 100s and it becomes a high-scoring game and they’ve got their three options – Kevin Love, LeBron and Kyrie – playing well together at the same time, I don’t think the Raptors have enough to keep up with that.”
Lowry and DeRozan, by the way, aren’t the only ones suffering from a home-road bugaboo. So is Kevin Love.
Fedor called the difference between home Love and road Love “enormous.”
“He’s averaging 18 points per game at home so far in the playoffs, and he’s averaging 15 points per game on the road – and that’s not where the disparity is,” Fedor said. “It’s where his efficiency continues to drop when he goes on the road.”
At home, Love is shooting 43 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. On the road, he’s shooting 34 percent from the field and 39 percent from three.
“So he dropped nine percentage points for the field overall and 11 percentage points form three-point range, and he doesn’t play with the same aggressiveness on the road that he does at home,” Fedor said. “I don’t know why that is necessarily, but that’s just the way that it has gone for Kevin Love in this postseason series.”