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Scientists say the Boston Celtics may suffer jet lag in the NBA Finals worse than the Golden State Warriors.

At the time of this story’s publication, the Boston Celtics were losing 2–3 in a seven-game series against the Golden States Warriors in the NBA Finals. People have pointed to a variety of reasons why this might be the case, including: the Celtics were too tired after being pushed to the brink of elimination by the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat; Marcus Smart gets into too much trouble; Steph Curry, possibly a god; The warriors came up with some kind of magic spell for the third quarter; and so on.

Regardless of the reason, the consensus in the league is that the Celtics are poised to lose Game 6 today and the Warriors are about to win their fourth league title since 2015.

It’s not that Celtics fans need another reason to complain, but their team could have been at a disadvantage from the start, simply because of geographic location. On Thursday, a group of Australian researchers published a new study in Frontiers of physiology on the impact of jet lag on NBA performance, implying that this is This is why the Boston Celtics can play worse than the Warriors.

Why? It’s simple: you lose time when you drive east. As such, teams located on the East Coast have less recovery time to play at home, effectively negating the perceived benefits of playing on the home court.

“Traveling east, where the destination time is later than the departure time, requires the athlete to shorten the day,” Eliza Facer-Childs, researcher at Monash University Melbourne and lead author of the new study. says in a press release. “Athletes often struggle to fall asleep earlier, resulting in loss of sleep and therefore potential deterioration in physiological performance and motivation the next day.”

The researchers collected data for 10 regular seasons from 2011 to 2021. They found that the jet lag caused by traveling east was associated with worse game results for teams returning to home games, including a roughly 6 percent drop in winning chances. , a reduced point difference (the difference between points scored and points allowed) of 1.29 points, and a reduced rebound difference of 1.29 rebounds. The performance of these teams only got worse as more time zones moved east.

Moreover, the westward jet lag did not have the same effect on the teams returning home west, presumably because they gained several hours on the way. Western teams also didn’t suffer the same degree of deterioration when they traveled east for away games.

The researchers are ultimately suggesting that the NBA develop a new game planning strategy to mitigate these effects and give Eastern Conference teams more time to recover from travel. If this is not possible, then teams may need to find their own ways to reduce jet lag stress on their players.

Of course, the new study did not include data on playoff performance, and the researchers acknowledge that high playoff stakes mean teams may already be doing rigorous training to give players a chance to recover.

However, the new study is sure to spark a debate about why the NBA has such an imbalance of power between the Eastern and Western Conferences. If you see Boston playing poorly today and refuse to believe it’s because the Warriors are simply the best team, now you can tell all your friends it’s a jet lag. (Of course, as is usually the case in sports discourse, you will be listened to calmly and without prejudice.)

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