NBA lore holds that an underdog's best chance of stealing a playoff win on the road comes in Game One. The underlying rationale weaves together a few threads, not all of them consistent: the idea that the home team sometimes comes into Game One unduly relaxed and complacent, or that all the pressure's on the favorite to hold serve, or that as a series wears on, familiarity between the teams makes it gradually harder for the underdog to overcome the talent gap with innovative strategery. I've no idea how well this conventional wisdom actually comports with reality, but it could well hold true in the case of the first-round series between the Lakers and Hornets for another reason entirely: the Game One start time.
The series tips off on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 California time. So far this season, the Lakers haven't been great at rolling out of the rack and playing ball at such an early hour. Three times they've played at Staples Center at 12:30 p.m., and all three were losses:
- On January 16, they fell behind early to the Clippers, came back to take the lead at halftime but fell apart in the fourth quarter en route to a seven-point L.
- On January 30, they got blasted by the Celtics, losing by 13 to their odious rivals.
- On April 3, their 17-1 run after the All-Star break came to a crashing end when they snored through a loss to the Denver Nuggets.
As they say, three's a trend!
The Lakers actually have been pretty decent with early start times when they're out on the road. But there's something about sleeping in their own beds that's left them groggy in these Sunday matinee games. I recommend to the Laker training staff that they stock the locker room with Five Hour Energy Drink, and if that doesn't work, maybe give everyone a little pick-me-up with a cattle prod.
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.