Atlanta: A Sports City Not in Need Of a Road Trip
I'm starting to believe that Atlanta's professional sports teams are the most humble teams in any league.
Why's that you might ask? It's simple: They are so humble in that they do not take pleasure or pride in going into an opposing team's stadium or arena and pulling out a victory. That just isn't right, now is it, to just go into someone else's house and take what belongs to them and disappoint the home crowd?
No, no. Our Atlanta sports teams are much more professional and sportsmanlike than that. Or so it seems.
Take for example the Atlanta Hawks. Our beloved Hawks went 53-29, improving vastly over the previous few seasons (and especially since that 13-69 season five years ago).
However, the record is a bit misleading; of the 53 victories, only 19 of those victories were on the road, leaving an incredible 34 victories in Philips arena with only seven home losses.
Compare that with the "premier" teams in the league. I quote premier here because the Hawks SHOULD be classified as premier, but their inability to win on the road has held them back from maintaining their reign as the best team in the league (a position they held for the first few weeks of the season).
The Cleveland Cavaliers, for example, won 26 on the road. The Los Angeles Lakers won 23. The Hawks, however, are on par with their playoff opponent the Milwaukee Bucks (a sixth seed), who had only 18 away victories.
The Hawks are 1-10 on the road in the playoffs the past three seasons. They went 0-4 against Boston in round one of the 2008 playoffs, but had an amazing 3-0 performance at home against the top-ranked Celtics.
Last season, they went 1-2 on the road against the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. This year, after a promising 2-0 start against the lesser Milwaukee Bucks, two games up to Milwaukee and the series is now tied at 2-2, with Milwaukee carrying two electrifying victories into Philips Arena for Tuesday's game.
Seriously, Atlanta? It is as if every road game is an impossible feat to overcome.
We Hawks fans are lucky to have home court advantage for the first round. I'll take hanging on with a 4-3 series victory (in the scenario that we lose all the away games but win all the home games), but I'd rather have a 4-2 series outcome in order to give us some road confidence for when it's time to take on the big boys, such as the Magic or the Cavaliers, who are NOT going to yield home court advantage to the Hawks.
The Hawks are not alone in their transgressions, however. The Atlanta Braves can't seem to win on the road (or anywhere for that matter). With a record of 8-11 and only 3-7 on the road, the season seems to already be headed in the wrong direction.
The Atlanta Thrashers managed to win just three more games at home than on the road, and the Falcons last season won just three games on the road.
If Atlanta wants to be a serious contender in any league, the teams need to break away from their comfort zone, and start winning games away from the city. Home victories should be a given, but should not be a do-or-die scenario every single season, relying on home victories in order to gain entry into the playoffs.
Hopefully, the Hawks pull out alive of the first round against the Bucks and manage to win some away games in order to advance to the NBA Finals.
As for the Braves, well, let's hope they master Turner Field first before reaching out to grab victories elsewhere.
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