Blazers playing with time

In the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, Ric Bucher explores how the Portland Trail Blazers are using the fact that they’re a Pacific Coast team to their advantage. (Insider subscription required.)

After consulting with doctors and a sleep expert, the team decided the best way to succeed away from home was to act as if they’d never left. So the Blazers stay on Pacific Coast time, no matter where they are. On the East Coast, that means 11 a.m. wake-ups and 10 p.m. practices to go with the club-kid bedtime.

So instead of starting a trip with an early-morning flight, the Blazers take off closer to noon. Players get a full night’s sleep in their own beds. That makes them less likely to nap after boarding. And no napping means they rarely miss meals. Sure, the guys can’t explore the local nightlife immediately upon arrival; that’s when they practice. But they do get to skip the traditional morning shootaround on game days in favor of another good night’s rest.

The Blazers haven’t lost their edge back home, either. [Dr. Charles] Czeisler has taught them about circadian rhythms and body clocks, so now they know that by the start of a second half in Portland, an Eastern squad will be feeling the effects of melatonin, the body’s hormone that regulates sleep. “We look for it,” Jensen says. “We know it’s our chance to jump on our opponents.”

We see it all the time in sports. An East Coast team has to travel to the West Coast and they underperform (or vice versa). There’s definitely something to this theory and the Blazers are smart to try to use it to their advantage. Unfortunately, East Coast teams can’t do the same thing. No matter when they fall asleep or when they wake up during a West Coast road trip, game time is still 10 PM or 11 PM Eastern, and that’s when the melatonin kicks in.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts