Who is the NBA’s greatest Road Warrior?

Miami Heat forward LeBron James gestures to a fan in the crowd during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Minneapolis April 1, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

In general, NBA players play better at home. That’s a fact. The Top 250 players (in terms of total minutes played this season) are 6.3% better in Efficiency Per Minute (EPM) when playing at home.

But as with anything in life, there are exceptions to this rule. There are certain players who, for whatever reason, play better on the road.

The table below shows the Top 50 players (in terms of Efficiency Per Game), along with both their home and away EPM, and the “percent better” they are when playing at home. If the number is negative, the player actually performs better on the road.

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Top 10 plays from LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin [video]

The NBA.com editors have been busy putting together Top 10 clips for the best players in the league. Here are the top plays from LeBron, Kobe and Blake Griffin.

Does a 40-point game help the team win?

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant reacts during their NBA basketball loss to the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles, California, January 28, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Dwight Howard’s 46-point, 19-rebound effort in a Game 1 loss to the Hawks got me wondering — when a player scores 40+ points in a game, does it give his team a better chance to win? Conventional wisdom would be yes, it should increase the chances of his team winning, but by how much?

To find some answers, I fired up Basketball-Reference’s excellent Player Game Finder. Here are a few of the more interesting results:

— Since the 1985-86 season (which is as far as BR’s data goes back), a player has scored 40+ points 1,734 times or 66.7 times per season, including the postseason.

— In those games (both regular season and playoff), teams who had a player score 40+ points won 1,205 of 1,734 games (.695) so it does indeed mean a team has a better chance to win.

— A player has scored 40+ in the postseason a total of 148 times. His team won 104 times (.703), so it does not make a huge difference whether or not the game is regular season or postseason when it comes to win %.

— Of the 1,734 games, 893 (51.5%) were by guards, 657 (37.9%) were by forwards and 184 (10.6%) were by centers.

— The most points scored in a game (since 1985) was Kobe Bryant’s 81 points against Toronto in 2006. David Robinson scored 71 against the Clippers in 1994. Michael Jordan scored 69 against the Cavs in 1990. The most points scored in a playoff game in that span was a tie between Charles Barkley (1994 vs. Golden State) and Michael Jordan (1992 vs. Miami), each with 56 points.

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Blake Griffin: 214 dunks in 254 seconds [video]

Do you miss Blake Griffin already? Check out this compilation of all of his dunks from the 2010-11 season. Don’t miss another of Blake’s dunks, get your Clippers tickets now!

2011 NBA Playoffs, by the numbers…

Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh (L), LeBron James (C) and Dwyane Wade sit on the bench while their team plays the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto, April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Here’s a look at each first round matchup, taking into account Dean Oliver’s Four Factors of winning:

1. offensive and defensive effective FG% (which weight three-point shots with an extra point)

2. turnover rate (percentage of possessions ending in a turnover, both on offense and defense)

3. offensive and defensive rebound rate (percentage of available rebounds on each end of the floor)

4. FTM/FGA (which shows how well a team gets points from the free throw line)

Since we’re using both offensive and defensive numbers, I’ll call them the Eight Factors.

I have also included pace (possessions per game) and offensive and defensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions) for reference. Below the two rows for the two teams is a third row that shows the difference in each category. A positive number is good for the first team listed (which will always be the higher seed). A negative number means the higher seed is worse in that category.

I’ll put the season series results in parenthesis next to each matchup.

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