<
>

History working against them

We already broke the bad news about how the Celtics have fared after losing Game 1 of a best-of-seven series on the road. But now John Hollinger comes along with even more sobering newsInsider about second-round opponents that lose Game 1.

Throughout history, the second round has produced a much greater advantage for home-court teams than have the conference finals or the Finals. In 168 best-of-seven quarterfinal series, home-court teams have won 78.6 percent of the time, and dismissed their opponents in five games or fewer in nearly half of those series (37.5 percent). Underdogs have managed a similar feat only 11 times.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

The Celtics aren't paying attention to the stats working against them.As a result, history says the Jazz, Spurs, Celtics and Hawks each face some long odds, and on average we can expect only one of them (or perhaps none) to advance to the conference finals.

Wait, it gets worse. Because Utah and Boston already lost Game 1 over the weekend, their odds are even longer. Teams with home-court advantage that win the first game of the second round are an astounding 114-15 (88.4 percent), meaning the Cavs and Lakers already have one foot in the conference finals. Based on the historical data and the two weekend results, there's nearly a 50-50 shot (48.3 percent) that all four home-court teams will go through to the conference finals.

The good news for this weekend's losers is that home-court teams that win the opener often lower their guard in Game 2 -- they have only a 67.4 percent success rate in Game 2s after winning the opener.

The bad news? Only 12 of the 42 road teams (28.6 percent) to win Game 2 after a Game 1 loss went on to win a second-round series, which doesn't bode well for Boston or Utah, even if they win Game 2. The numbers for the road team don't improve much if you include all best-of-sevens, at just 29-64 (31.2 percent), although that figure includes two teams (Utah and San Antonio) that managed that feat in this year's first round.

Moreover, if Utah or Boston wants to win the series they had better win Game 2. It sounds weird to say, but the Celtics are facing a must-win game a day before the Hawks and Magic even tip off. Road teams that don't leave with at least a split are a ghastly 3-84 (3.5 percent) in the second round, and 11-187 (9.4 percent) in all best-of-sevens.

Click HEREInsider to read the full column.