The Toronto Raptors may have claimed “We the North,” but they are closer than you might think to being “We the East,” too. Only five of the 30 National Basketball Association stadiums are situated east of the Scotiabank Arena, which means when the Raptors travel, their plane is usually pointed west. Recent research into athletic travel and performance suggests that this puts the NBA champions at a minor disadvantage.
A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research analyzed stats from five years of regular-season games in the NBA, National Hockey League and National Football League to compare whether eastbound or westbound teams have a leg up on their competitors when it comes to jet lag. As it turns out, heading west isn’t best.
While that’s bad news for the Raptors, the effects are not significant enough to cost them the championship trophy. But their track record for the 2018–2019 season does bear out the study’s findings: The majority of Raptors’ road losses went down west of Toronto. In fact, almost half of the team’s total defeats were located left of the of 79°W longitude line.