Road Team Up 1-0: A Historical Perspective

Tangent here!

We have two series where the road team currently has a 1-0 series lead, as the Pacers and Pelicans have put their teams up in the series. To better understand what their chances are, let's look into the history of road teams taking a 1-0 series lead in the first round.

Notes: The records will only go back to the 2002-03 playoffs, as that was when the NBA switched from a best of five to a best of seven in the first round.

Overall Stats

Since 2003, there have been 36 occasions where the road team has gone up 1-0. Of those 36, the underdog team went on to win the series 17 times (47%), and the favourite won the series 19 times (53%). So, it's pretty much a coin flip, with the coin slightly weighted towards the favourite. This looks good for the Cavs and the Blazers. It isn't time to panic yet and they both are still favourites to win the series.

..... Or are they? Let's take a deeper dive and split these by playoff seeding.

The 1 vs. 8 Matchup

There have been 6 of these 36 occasions in the 1 vs. 8 matchup. Of those, the favourite won 4 of 6 series (67%) and the underdog won 2 of 6 series (33%). Here is the summary:

2018: (1) Boston beats (8) Chicago 4-2 (after being down 0-2!)
2014: (1) Indiana beats (8) Atlanta 4-3
2011: (8) Memphis beats (1) San Antonio 4-2 (how could you let this happen Pop?)
2007: (8) Golden State beats (1) Dallas 4-2 (ugh.... bad memories)
2003: (1) Detroit beats (8) Orlando 4-2
2003: (1) San Antonio beats (8) Phoenix 4-2

Note: Both tops seeds lost Game 1 in 2003, and both of the #1 seeded teams made the NBA Finals

The 2 vs. 7 Matchup

There have been 5 of these 36 in the 2 vs. 7 matchup. Of those, the favourite has gone on to win all 5 times (100%). Here is the summary:

2016: (2) Toronto beats (7) Indiana 4-3
2011: (2) LA Lakers beat (7) New Orleans 4-3
2009: (2) Boston beats (7) Chicago 4-3
2008: (2) Detroit beats (7) Philadelphia 4-2
2005: (2) San Antonio beats (7) Denver 4-1

The 3 vs. 6 Matchup

There have been 12 of these 36 in the 3 vs. 6 matchup. Of those, the favourite has gone on to win 7 series (58%) and the underdog was won 5 series (42%). Here is the summary:

2017: (3) Toronto beats (6) Milwaukee 4-2
2014: (6) Brooklyn beats (3) Toronto 4-3
2014: (3) LA Clippers beat (6) Golden State 4-3
2012: (3) Indiana beats (6) Orlando 4-1
2010: (3) Phoenix beats (6) Portland 4-2
2009: (3) Orlando beats (6) Philadelphia 4-2
2009: (6) Dallas beats (3) San Antonio 4-2
2007: (6) Brooklyn beats (3) Toronto 4-2
2007: (3) San Antonio beats (6) Denver 4-1
2006: (3) New Jersey beats (6) Indiana 4-2
2006: (6) LA Clippers beat (3) Denver 4-1
2003: (6) Boston beats (3) Indiana 4-2

The 4 vs. 5 Matchup

There have been 13 of these 36 in the 4 vs. 5 matchup. Of those, the favourite has gone on to win only 3 times (23%), and the underdog has won 10 times (77%). Here is the summary:

2017: (5) Utah beats (4) LA Clippers 4-3
2015: (5) Washington beats (4) Toronto 4-0
2015: (5) Memphis beats (4) Portland 4-1
2014: (5) Washington beats (4) Chicago 4-1
2014: (5) Portland beats (4) Houston 4-2
2012: (4) Boston beats (5) Atlanta 4-2
2012: (5) LA Clippers beat (4) Memphis 4-3
2011: (5) Atlanta beats (4) Orlando 4-2
2009: (5) Houston beats (4) Portland 4-2
2007: (5) Chicago beats (4) Miami 4-0
2007: (4) Utah beats (5) Houston 4-3
2005: (4) Dallas beats (5) Houston 4-3 (back from down 0-2!)
2003: (5) LA Lakers beat (4) Minnesota 4-2

What this means for the Cavs and Pacers:

According to seeding and history, the Cavs are in serious trouble. However, the 4 vs. 5 matchup is often between closer teams in the standings, and the Cavaliers' record compared to Indiana might be a bigger difference than usual. However, tread carefully with Cleveland.

Portland is a 3 seed, and that would suggest that they are safer and still slight favourites. However, the records of Portland had just one more win than New Orleans. This is closer to a 4 vs. 5 matchup than a 3 vs. 6. Look out. Portland is in serious danger here.

Should be fun to see where Cleveland and Portland land themselves in this history. I still think Cleveland wins (but would love it if they don't), and I think Portland will not win. I'm going to be careful with these series and pick elsewhere.


  1. Love the history & research here! I also believe Cavs still win & I'm unsure about NO & POR. I was 50/50 before Game 1 so with NO stealing it, I believe they're now more likely to win the series in my eyes. It's all about Playoff Rondo. If they didn't have him, I'd go Portland easy.

    1. Truly great post. This is something we can always go back to whenever we are weighing picks.

  2. I was feeling good as i was reading thru this, and then the “but...” happened, and I’m back to feeling effed lol!

    And hey Day 3 my pick’s team won, so... even more lol!

  3. Nice retrospective, Tangent. But yes, I will start believing in the Pacers if they win game2. I still don't bet against LeBron. And this season western conference standings were so close that seeding doesn't matter as it usually does. A win or a loss in the last game made a team advance 5 positions xD

    1. There's no chance the Pacers win Game 2. Which is why I'm steering clear of Dipo for that game. Cavs should tighten the D & get the job done, limiting the Pacers.

    2. I give the Pacers a 25% chance of winning game 2. Because, you know, Cleveland defense ;)

    3. It’s just unimaginable for LeBron to lose a Round 1.
      Anyways, it’s easy to stall picking from this series until elims. Only LeBron and Oladipo to pick from.

  4. Take Aldridge in Texas, they said. He always plays betterin Texas, they said. So I saved Aldridge for game 3. And BAM he is the stud of the day. Gayon the other hand, but let´s not dwell on that.

    Now can you take LMA in g3? Wait for g4? Argh.

    In that other series, who to pick? Everybody not named Wade pretty much sucked. Dragic was not as bad as I feared but still.

    Yes, the playoffs are far more interesting than last year (couldn´t have been any less), but that makes this game so much more difficult. And interesting. Hmm... I notice a pattern.

    Now when to pick Dirk?

    1. LMA in Game 3. If they go down 0-3, there’s not much motivation to perform in Game 4.

      Btw it might be Dirk’s final season next. I need a month in Dallas to watch him. Or one in New York, he likes playing in MSG.

    2. Yeah, I know. That´s why I plan on making a trip over the pond to see him play. Again. I am still glad that I did this in 2013, even though the two games I visitied in Dallas were not that great, it was still fantastic to finally see him live. I am eagerly waiting for the new schedule.

    3. There are so many Dirk and Mav fans in our DTTF community. It’s crazy!!!

  5. Someone pointed out in FPS that the scoring is

    From the Settings...

    Fantasy Scoring
    Per Point: 1.0
    Per Rebound: 1.0
    Per Offensive Rebound: 0.0
    Per Defensive Rebound: 0.0
    Per Assist: 1.0
    Per Steal: 1.0
    Per Block: 1.0
    Per Turnover: -1.0
    Per 3PT: 0.0
    Double Double: 3.0
    Triple Double: 8.0
    30+ Points: 5.0
    FG >= 50%: 0.0

    instead of plain PRA. I think we need a post to tweak our strategies towards that.

    1. Perhaps a guest piece on this could be something I can work on - which players are benefitted more in each system.

    2. Yes Tangent! I love your more analytics based approached with stats, research, history etc.! I haven't thought much about the difference and just pick the same guys there instead.

      Taong, I don't think we should steer away from the PRA though. The Google Drive league has a healthy amount of folks that are all really active & prop care just as much if not more about that league that we run vs the Fantasy Postseason site. I vote we address the differences, but keep our main pick strategies at PRA for continuity with Google Drive. After all, most plays get 1-4 block / steals a game along with 2-5 turnovers a game I'd say so those added numbers are basically a wash. It's really just the double, triple double & 30+ bonuses that inflate a score a bit so at that point your big player pick is just a bit bigger in the end (his turnovers more than cancelled out, but not a huge difference)

    3. Yep Tangent go for it.

      Yes Jerry let’s focus on PRA. We’re doing just a bit for the FPS players.

      In some specific but rare points in time, I’ll be picking differently for Google Drive and FPS.

  6. Raptors 44, Wizards 27.


  7. Pelicans up 2-0. Looks like New Orleans will be pushing the underdogs of the 3 vs. 6 matchup history closer to .500. I knew it felt more like a 4 vs. 5 series!


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