The Los Angeles Lakers blew out the Golden State Warriors on Friday night to advance to the Western Conference Finals vs. the Denver Nuggets, a bubble rematch from the 2020 playoffs. However, unlike that series, this one comes with a change in altitude as Denver — “The Mile-High City” — sits 5,276 feet above sea level.
Altitude comes with a series of physiological changes and difficulties. It’s part of what makes playing in Denver so difficult. If you’ve ever been up to the mountains for a weekend then you may have experienced something similar as you become more easily fatigued and out of breath until you’ve adapted to it.
So how are the Lakers dealing with that change of altitude, and what are the key physiological changes that occur? I explained in the following video:
From my perspective, the three-day period that resulted from the Lakers beating Golden State in six games while the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics went seven games was obviously important for rest, but arguably even more important to deal with the altitude. Now you know why, and hopefully it levels the playing field from a physical perspective for the always-important Game 1.
Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own in-person and online sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA and partners with Quantum Performance in which he further combines his movement expertise and fitness training background to rehab & train elite athletes. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for over 5 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), has a background in youth basketball coaching and analyzes the Lakers from a medical and skills perspective for Silver Screen and Roll and on his own YouTube Channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @3cbPerformance.