Parents everywhere tell their children about the importance of sleep. No less an authority than Benjamin Franklin told us that if we’re early to bed, we’ll be healthy, wealthy, and wise.
And that’s been true in the NBA, too. Cheri Mah, a scientist at the University of California San Francisco Human Performance Center, has been studying sleep with NBA players for years now. And her findings are this: athletes play much better the next night if they’re able to get sleep.
But what happens if you try to sleep, but can’t?
That’s the position the Jazz were in after Saturday’s Game 3 against the Rockets, a frustrating loss that provided even more than its fair share of ‘What ifs.’ Besides the huge importance of the game — a 3-0 series deficit is very different than a 2-1 margin — the Jazz were also beaten by missed opportunities. Eight missed free-throws in the third, shooting 15% on wide-open shots, and even missed dunks to consider.
“With my missed opportunity I was up for a little while,” Joe Ingles said, perhaps thinking about his miss with about two minutes remaining that could have given the Jazz a 1-point lead. "I think most guys, it was one of those games that did hurt. I was up very, very late."
"You just think about, not even fourth quarter, first quarter, every quarter. What you could have done more, what you could have done better, shots you could have made, shots you could have taken, defensive stops or schemes we could have done better. Eventually you fall asleep and you wake up the next day and try to forget about it and refocus.”
Rudy Gobert couldn’t sleep either.
“It’s usually hard to sleep right after the game. Usually you have a few where you look back and you say ‘We could have done this, we could have done that.’ It’s every night, every game. Sometimes you win, and you’re not going to do that, but maybe you can play a lot better too.”
“It’s a day when you regroup," Kyle Korver said about the day in between games. "It was hard to go to bed, you were tired when you wake up. ... We’ll regroup, we’ll get our minds right, and we’ll get ready to go.”
It seemed to work heading into Game 4: the Jazz started with a 32-24 first quarter that featured a number of notable standout performances.
Sometimes, it’s success that leads to sleep. Sometimes, sleep leads to success.