A few years ago, I watched a Pat Riley interview after the Heat suffered a 20-point road clubbering. He basically discounted the entire evening, saying this was a direct result of a commonly-known-but-never-spoken-of "20/20 Rule".
The Rule states that any time a team wins at home by 20 points or more, and their next game is on the road, the team will be so sluggish from home-cooking and coasting through the previous game that a blowout loss is certain. And vice-versa, a painful road whoopin', followed by some lovin' with your mistresses in the comfort of your own mansion? The next home game is a guaranteed win before the opening tip.
Riley alluded to this as if it were fact, and the loss had nothing to do with the Heat running its "offense" through Clarence Weatherspoon and Voshon Lenard. From then on, I accepted The Rule as common knowledge. That is, until I noticed more than a few teams apparently robbed of their "free win" on the tail-end of The Rule. So I decided to to some research on this. The type of research that kills your social life and gets confused looks from your friends. Yes, I'm taking this way too seriously.
(Warning: Nerd content)
So far this year, teams over .500 lose 47% of their road games. But if the road game follows a big home win, they only lose 38%, the opposite of what The Rule says. Winning teams seem to gain momentum from the big win, regardless of what some old fable says.
Also, the 20/20 Rule has no effect on these teams going home. This year they've won 72% of their home games. After getting blown out on the road, winning teams win the following home game 73% of the time.
On the flip side, teams at or below .500 have won 49% of their home games this year. After coming off a big road loss and going home, losing teams are demoralized and actually play worse, only winning the following home game 39% of the time, again the opposite of the 20/20 rule.
Could Pat Riley be wrong?!? He wouldn't use an old wives' myth to justify his team getting squashed? So I took another look at the losing teams. After coming off a mysterious blowout win at home, the bad teams only win 24% of their road games, lower than their season average of 32% overall. So the 20/20 Rule does have a smidge of feasibility, but it's hardly an unwritten law of the NBA universe.
In the end, Riley's
coaching ability 20/20 Rule starts to look shaky, leaning away from fact and towards superstition. Speaking of superstitions, don't get me started on Mark Jackson's thumb-point...
"If only we could have lost by three more points..."