But, but, we need all the help we can get!
The Nuggets don’t have a lot going for them. Injuries, maligned rookie Emmanuel Mudiay and a kiiiinda shitty roster consistently make them one of the worst teams in the NBA. That being said, the Nugs need any advantage they can get their hands on. The mile-high altitude is the one factor many fans and coaches alike praise as an added home court benefit, and it can be reasonably ascertained that a chunky portion of the Nugget’s sparse wins are due to visiting teams not being able to handle physical fatigue from the thinner air.
That works wonderfully for the Nugs, who are used to performing at high altitude. It’s safe to say their lungs have adapted to there only being two or three molecules of oxygen here, and because of this, when they do play down at sea level, they don’t fatigue as quickly. Take that, stupid ass coastal teams.
Thing is, many coaches see the jet-lag and consequential fatigue of traveling to Denver as an added unfair home court advantage. Over the past few seasons coaches and players have complained about back-to-back game sets when the Nuggets are the second game. After playing their first game, that team promptly showers, packs and fly across the country in most instances for the next evening’s game. Denver is a deserted island as far as NBA geography is concerned. It’s a minimum two-hour flight to all but a few other team’s home cities and the Utah Jazz are the only team in the entire NBA to even share the same time zone as the Nuggets. On top of that, when they get here, they can barely shoot a free throw because they’re so fatigued.
With this seemingly catastrophic scheduling conflict in mind, the NBA is planning to take action to reduce that distinct advantage. As detailed in a report by to CBS, this edge is being mended “through altered scheduling such as making Denver the first stop coming from the east or putting a day off between the games for teams coming from the west.” Bye bye, playoffs.
With this uproar reaching enough of a fever pitch for the NBA to take large-scale action, one has to wonder: Is there really a home court advantage for the Nuggets? If so is it any different than any other team’s edge when it comes to the numbers? The percentages are surprising.
The Nuggets are 3-2 at home this season and 3-3 on the road. With such a small sample size, we’re splitting hairs just a few weeks into the 2015-16 campaign. Last year however, the Nuggets did fare significantly better at home going 19-22 in Denver and 11-33 on the road.
According to ESPN Insider, since the 2004-5 season “NBA home teams have won almost exactly 60 percent of their games and by an average margin of 3.2 points per game,” Insider continues to illuminate the Denver-lean in this discrepancy, “Denver's observed home-court effect of 5.5 points per game (after accounting for strength of opponents).” A two point swing for the home team compared with the rest of the league may sound like minutiae but in a game of free throws, a point or two one way or the other is the difference between a dozen loses over the course of a season.
As of today, the Nuggets are ranked seventh in the loaded West without their starting center Jusuf Nurkic and key forwards Joffrey Lauvergne and Wilson Chandler who will miss the remainder of the season to undergo hip surgery.
In all honestly it could be a lot worse and if the league is keen on removing this slight advantage it’s probably only a matter of time.
In Mudiay We Trust.