On Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks will find themselves a mile above sea level when they visit Pepsi Center to take on the Denver Nuggets.
The Bucks have been on the losing end of their last six meetings with the Nuggets and trail the all-time series 51-32. At home, the Bucks own a very respectable 24-17 record in the series, compared to their eight wins and 34 losses when traveling to Denver.
As the story goes, athletes – and really anyone for that matter – need considerably more than just a day to adapt to the higher altitude.
The typical challenges that one faces, according to Denver.org, revolve around breathing patterns and hydration levels. They warn, for instance, that the effects of exercise are more intense and recommend consuming twice the amount of water as usual.
It would seem, then, that teams preparing for such a visit have to consider not just playbooks and scouting reports, but perhaps more importantly, the nuances in the environment. Meanwhile, the Nuggets await, fully adapted to their surroundings and ready to pounce.
In recent history at least, the Nuggets have built up the reputation of being a team that takes care of business on their home court. For example, during a stretch of four consecutive 50-win seasons beginning in 2007-08, Denver went 133-31 at home. Over that same period, though, they were a slightly less impressive 74-90 on the road.
There are so many factors to consider, from quality of opponent to number of days of rest, but it’s possible that the Nuggets deal with the opposite end of the problem in the first game of their road trips.
The Nuggets enter Wednesday night’s game with an overall mark of 23-23, are 13-11 at Pepsi Center and on the surface seem like the favorites to win.
However, for the Bucks, who are 4-21 on the road and 1-16 versus Western Conference teams, this might actually be a window of opportunity for them to finally string together two victories this season.
Denver fell to the Bobcats and Raptors last week and were on the way to a third-straight home loss to the Clippers on Monday before Randy Foye saved the day.
Furthermore, the Bucks come into the game on a high after the last second heroics of Brandon Knight against the Knicks, also on Monday.
While inexperience and youth have kept the Bucks out of the win column on most nights this season, they are a team that can kick into high gear, if only in spurts.
A full 48 minutes of that high energy basketball might win the game for the Bucks, just as long as they can catch their breath.