- The Cleveland Cavaliers have a new travel schedule this season that players have enjoyed.
- Instead of leaving cities directly after road games, they stay the night, and leave the next day.
- Players say it helps them relax and get more rest after a game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have slowly climbed back above .500 after a win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.
Several factors have helped the Cavs’ turnaround (they have won four of their last five games) from LeBron James’ inspired play, to better three-point shooting, but James himself pointed to a simple tweak in the team’s travel schedule after Wednesday’s win.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Cavs have taken to staying in a city overnight when they’re on the road, and then leaving the next day instead of leaving directly after the game.
“We’re old, man,” James said. “Whenever we get a chance to stay over for the night this season, we have to do that.”
According to Real GM, the Cavs are the oldest team in the NBA, with an average age of 30.1. Compare that to the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics, who have an average age of 25.1.
Cavs head athletic trainer Steve Spiro told McMenamin that by not flying out of a city immediately after a game, the players get one huge advantage — more sleep.
“The biggest thing for recovery is sleep,” Spiro said. “There isn’t anything better, and for these guys that are taxing their bodies through travel and through their workload on the court, and practice, and extra work or whatever, we can have all the technology in the world, but obviously a great night’s sleep plays a role into performance.”
Veteran point guard Jose Calderon also explained the simple benefits of not travelling immediately after the game — no worries about packing a bag and making the flight. Players can relax, think about the game, hang out with teammates, or be on their own.
“You wake up in the morning, and you have time to go to practice,” Calderon said. “It’s more of a relaxed kind of feeling instead of getting in at, like, 2 a.m. or something, some other place.”
According to McMenamin, the Cavs decided on the new travel plan when the new, spaced-out NBA schedule was released in August. The Cavs have the fewest back-to-backs in the league, which also helps their relaxed itinerary.
Teams across the league try to find ways to battle the throes of travel. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he often holds practice on the road if the team gets into a city at night. Kerr said the exercise is good for better rest.
“Just to get the blood moving after a long flight,” Kerr said. “It’s just what I remember as a player. It’s the worst when you fly all day and not do anything and then the next day you feel sluggish.
“I just think it kind of gets the cobwebs out a little bit. It’s good for our bodies — and a better night’s sleep, even — if you’ve broken a sweat.”
Rest and recovery remains a big topic in the NBA, and if the Cavs’ schedule tweak works for them, other teams may follow suit.
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