Trail Blazers guard Allen Crabbe got off to a bit of a rough start this season, at least by his standards, with regard to three-point shooting. In his first 20 games after signing a lucrative four-year contract as a restricted free agent, the 6-6 wing in his fourth season out of Cal shot 36 percent from behind the arc, which isn’t bad by any stretch, but not exactly what you’d hope for from a shooter of Crabbe’s caliber.
It wouldn’t take long for Crabbe to snap that mini-slump, as he went on to shoot 52 percent from three in December and 46 percent in January on 3.6 attempts per game before eventually finishing the season shooting 44.4 percent from three. That mark was good enough for second in the NBA this season, with only Cleveland’s Kyle Korver at 45 percent shooting a better percentage from three than Crabbe.
But nobody was better than Crabbe this season in terms of three-point shooting at home. In games at the Moda Center, Crabbe shot a blistering 51.3 percent from three this season, the best mark of any player who shot enough three-pointers to qualify as a league leader.
“Maybe I just like our courts, I like our arena,” said Crabbe of his success shooting from deep at the Moda Center this season. “I guess it’s just that comfortably. And I’m used to it. I play on that court all the time.”
Not only was Crabbe the most accurate three-point shooter at home this season, he was three percentage points better than the next-best qualified player, Utah’s Joe Ingles, who shot 48.3 percent at Vivant SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City this season.
Obviously finishing the season with an overall three-point shooting percentage of 44 percent means Crabbe’s three-point accuracy on the road wasn’t at the same level as his shooting at home, which generally makes sense. After all, it stands to reason a player would shoot better on his home court, where he plays roughly 41 times a season, than he would in an arena where he plays just twice, at most, a year.
But even so, it’s a bit startling to see that Crabbe shot 37 percent from three on 3.2 attempts per game on the road this season, nearly 15 percentage points worse than he shot at the Moda Center this season.
“Especially if we go to an east coast team, I’m only on that court once,” said Crabbe in an effort to explain his markedly different road and home three-point shooting splits. “I’m just here more at home, you’re on that court more than other teams. And sometimes we might not even have a shootaround, I’ll just get to the arena to do my pregame shooting and that will be all the warmup that I get on that court. But here, I can get as many reps in as I need before the game.”
And to be fair, it’s not exactly uncommon for the game’s best three-point shooters to fare much better at home than on the road. While there are shooters like Korver, Otto Porter and CJ McCollum, the 6th-most accurate three-point shooter this season at 42 percent, who shoot close to the same percentages both at home and on the road, some of the NBA’s most high-regarded shooters post home/road splits similar to Crabbe’s. In fact, one needs to only look at Portland’s first round playoff opponent, the Golden State Warriors, to realize the advantages of shooting at home.
There’s point guard Stephen Curry, who shot 46.4 percent from three at Oracle Arena this season but just 35.5 percent on the road, nearly 11 percentage points worse. And then there’s Klay Thompson, who’s 47.6 percent shooting at home is one of the best marks in the NBA, though it trails his three-point shooting percentage on the road by almost 12 percentage points.
Considering the first two games of the first round series are taking place on Golden State’s home court, fans won’t have to wait to see if the home and road three-point shooting disparity we saw during the regular season from Crabbe, Curry and Thompson carries over into the postseason.
“It’s different at home, you just have a different feel at home,” said Crabbe, who said he will play in Game One after sitting out the last two games with inflammation in his left foot. “I guess I’ve just got to get those road numbers up a little better, get it kind of similar to the numbers at home.”
Which would give a considerable boost to Portland’s chances of stealing a win on the road versus the Warriors. And for the record: Crabbe is shooting 43 percent from three in two games at Oracle Arena this season.