Denver’s home court advantage due to altitude is legit, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t care about this narrative at all.
The stats are real and the numbers were crunched during a 2017 study, which showed the Nuggets could expect to win 66.1 percent of their home games compared to the usual home advantage of 62 percent.
This is backed up by the Nuggets all-time home winning percentage of .652 and their.350 road win percentage – the difference being the largest for any active franchise in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
It also accounts partly for their stunning 8-0 record at Ball Arena this postseason and their regular season record at home (34-7) was the second-best in the league.
When Spoelstra was asked about playing the first two games in Denver, the place with the scary altitude, his response was rather defiant.
“Our guys are in great shape, they’re ready to compete,” Spoelstra said. “If [Nuggets] want to tip this thing off at the top of Everest, we’ll do that. This thing is going to be decided between the 4 lines.”
After playing six and a half seasons in Orlando, it was a big shock adjusting to the altitude in Denver for Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon.
“Most definitely, oh my God,” Gordon said. “Couldn’t even feel my muscles. I feel like there wasn’t even enough oxygen getting into my muscles when I played here. It was crazy. …”
NBA teams that visit Denver are warned about hypoxia, which causes symptoms of fatigue, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, headaches and confusion if you over-exert yourself.
No matter where the series is played, both teams are definitely all-in. In the words of Nikola Jokic “in the Finals there is no favorites.”
Game 1 of the Heat-Nuggets series will take place on Thursday, June 1 at Ball Arena.