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Why scientists say the Boston Celtics could be at a disadvantage in Game 6 of the NBA Finals

The greatest shooter of all time, Steph Curry, is one of the biggest defense challenges for the Boston Celtics during the NBA Finals. Just a few days ago, he scored 43 points. Combined with terrible ball handling and messy losses, the Celtics were in the pit. June 16 will begin the sixth game.losing to the Warriors 3-2.

The Celtics will face a bigger problem at home in Boston on Thursday, according to a new study: scientists are calling it “desynchronosis.” You know this as jet lag syndrome.

Sleep experts have analyzed 10 seasons and over 11,400 NBA games since 2011 and found that jet lag is associated with decreased performance in NBA athletes. Interestingly, the jet lag seems to be adversely affecting teams traveling east for home instead of west like the Boston Celtics before Game 6. Research published in open access journal Frontiers in Physiology June 16.

“Traveling east can be a particular concern for teams located on the east coast who have to return home to play home games and don’t have enough time to recover,” said Elise Facer-Childs, a sleep specialist at Monash University. in Australia. Press release.

The researchers also delved into some of the statistics. Notably, the team looked at point difference and rebounding because this is described as “playing with effort or fuss” as well as effective field goal percentage (eFG%), a metric that takes into account that 3-point shots are worth more than 2 point shots. in the overall percentage of hits. The points difference for the teams returning home East was lower (-1.29), they also had worse rebounding difference (-1.29) and worse eFG% (-1.2).

All in all, not good news if you’re driving from, say, San Francisco to Boston.

So why don’t the exit teams head east? Why don’t they feel these effects?

Lead author Josh Leota, a sleep specialist at Monash University, suggests this may be due to travel differences. “When you travel by road, team management can more easily mitigate the effects of jet lag by maintaining a structured schedule,” he notes.

However, there are grounds for some skepticism.

First, the reduction in the chances of winning is only 6% and does not reach statistical significance in a research paper. There may be a tendency for eastbound teams to lose, but it could just as well be a fluke. That percentage would also be equivalent to a 2.47 decrease in home wins, according to the newspaper.

In addition, a press release sent out by Monash on June 16 states that the Celtics may have been unfairly affected by the NBA Finals schedule, and that the old 2-3-2 NBA Finals schedule, with the first two and last two games being played at the home of high seed, may be better for minimizing jet lag than the current 2-2-1-1-1 format.

However, there is one rather significant caveat to the data: playoff games were not included in the study.

Maybe it’s not so scientific, but having seen a lot of basketball in my life, I can tell you that the level of play in the playoffs and finals is much higher than in regular season games. It takes a lot more effort and the players really put in the effort. You might even imagine that, looking at the finals data, there might be a more significant trend in things like rebound differentials.

But we can’t know that – that’s not what the study looked at – and even if it were, the number of NBA Finals games is much smaller, making it difficult to draw conclusions.

Updated at 5:45 pm PT to add comments by Josh Leota.

The reason for this, according to Leota, is that there are some potential confounding factors. For example, there is an imbalance of home and away games because the higher seed plays more home games, there is more rest between games, and it is unique to play the same team 4-7 times in a row. (Josh notes that he’s a Boston Celtics fan, but wrote the article when the Celtics were still under .500 wins, and it’s just a lucky coincidence that it was published before Game 6.)

If you’re looking for empirical data on where to invest for game 6, sorry guys, but I can’t help you. What I can say is that scientists have long studied the effects of jet lag on athletes, and further research may begin to unravel why players lose their temper after flying east…

… and when it comes to the finale, there may be no science that can stop Steph Curry.

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