The Definitive Blog Post about the new 2011-2012 Utah Jazz Schedule

By now you’ve probably read a few things about the Jazz 66 game, lockout shortened schedule. If you are a regular visitor of this website you’ve probably seen three posts on the subject in the last two days. If you’re not a member of the super awesome SLCDUNK family (and as a Jazz fan you probably would enjoy joining) you’ve still probably read or heard a thing or three about it already. If you have not read anything you can visit these quick links to see what Jody Genessy (Deseret News), Steve Luhm (Salt Lake Tribune), and David Locke (The Voice of the Jazz) have to say. If you are reading this far down you probably want to go a little deeper. Or maybe you’re just looking for a handy visual guide to the games our guys are going to be playing this year. Either way, this is the post for you.

A new schedule:

Of course, the reason why we needed a new schedule at all is because we had this whole Lockout thing. I’m bringing this up because years from now after the robot-apocalypse comes and goes the last remnants of the human population can piece together why they only played 66 games instead of the normal 82 in 2011-2012. For all of us reading this in the present day, we already know why there was a need to re-do the NBA schedule. Months ago some of us tried to work with the old NBA schedule – and this blog is probably one of the last places on earth where you can find the Jazz schedule from the pre-2011 Lockout in its full form. BEHOLD!. Months after making that post I am making this one. Feel free to book mark this, read from it on game days, help plan your ticket purchases, print it out, or write further blog posts / sports talk radio programing while having this open on your laptop. Don’t forget to give SLCDUNK and myself a shout out though, when you do.

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December:

In the pre-Lockout days the Utah Jazz would have played 15 regular season games this month; but now play only four regular season games. It looks bleak; however, we do get a whole two pre-season games salvaged from the ravages of the lockout process. Six games, only four that count. The Jazz start off with a home and home series against the Portland Trailblazers, starting on December 19th. The next week, December’s last, starts our sprint of a season off with a bang. It’s a four game in five nights stretch starting in Los Angeles, to face the Lakers on their third game in as many nights, and ending in San Antonio to face a team when we are running on fumes. The Jazz usually lose when playing on the road against the Lakers and the Spurs; and because God isn’t a Jazz fan, both of these games will be televised. The middle games are the ones I am more interested in. As much as we may dislike the Spurs and Lakers – the Denver Nuggets are a much more immediate rival. We only play the former laughing stock of our division three times this year, two on the road, and the first game is on December 28th. The only home game we play in December is one hosting the Philadelphia 76ers. The sixers are one of the few East teams we place twice this year. Andre Iguodala is always a handful for the Jazz. Last season he averaged 22.5 ppg (61.5 fg%), 5.5 apg, and 4.0 rpg against the Jazz, and that was in an off-season where he only averaged 14.1 ppg. Philly, an Eastern Conference playoff team last year, at home will be a good measuring stick for our team early on in this young season. In a "regular" regular season where we have a full training camp and pre-season I’d expect wins from these two games. I hope I do not need to adjust my expectations much during this crazy season.

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January:

January’s schedule is arguably the most humane, Jazz-friendly month ever scheduled in the last decade. There are five back-to-back sets this month, and the second teams we face are: hosting the Milwaukee Bucks; at the Golden State Warriors; hosting the LA Lakers; at the Denver Nuggets; and hosting the Sacramento Kings. And out of all those back-to-back sets the only real bears we have to face in the first game of the set are hosting the Memphis Grizzlies, and playing at Dallas. The prevailing trend for this month is the absurd number of home games. The Jazz are at home for 12 of a total 15 games in January. The teams we face at home aren’t all great teams, nor are they all dogs – it’s a variety group. The main point is that with the (theoretically) limited travel days the Jazz face, Head Coach Tyrone Corbin should be able to schedule in a number of productive practices in between the 15 games. This type of January should help the Jazz gel, and move forward. Without a full training camp, and with an abundance of very new players playing in Ty’s ‘revised’ system, we can’t expect our team to hit the ground running. This isn’t the same thing as the 1998-1999 Jazz team that was filled with veterans and playing in a system that they had absolute mastery over, so much so that they went to two NBA finals in the previous two seasons. That team rolled through the lockout shortened season. This years’ team will not. The relatively benign January schedule will serve as a pseudo training camp, and hopefully we’ll see the Jazz coaches experiment quite a bit with both playing time and position roles. The only way to accurately evaluate (each healthy) bigman is to have him play with each other bigman in a real NBA environment. For example, we’re going to have to see Derrick Favors on the floor with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur, and Enes Kanter – all at some stage during the course of the season. January would be a good place to start these experiments.

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February:

Welcome to the Jungle . . . this month is where things really start for the Jazz. And by start I mean start going south. We could lose every home game we play, and each week we start off with a ‘case of the Mondays’ (thank you Jim Davis). It’s more than just the Mondays, the beginning of each week is a series of pain. More than half of all the games the Jazz play this month are either on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. And all but one of those games is on the road. And the only ‘easy’ one of those is a road game to face off against Jimmer Fredette and the rest of the Sacramento Kings. The problem is not Jimmer either, we’ve have a hard time winning in Arco even back in the Deron Williams days. Tyreke Evans manhandles us with his physical penetration (Diana tweet), and we leave them wide open when they are shooting the long ball. Sadly, we’re most likely going to be going into this game without Kyrylo Fesenko on the team. Almost all of his non-bone head plays happen in this building. His 400 lbs. of industrial grade Ukrainian taffy will be sorely missed when trying to keep DeMarcus Cousins out of the paint. Especially since it’s usually around this time of the season when our bigmen ahead of him on the depth chart start to get banged up and put on the injured reserve. I’m sure a compacted schedule will fewer off days will only exacerbate this problem. This would be a great month for Enes Kanter to start showing us why the Jazz brass were so high on him.

Moving beyond Sacramento and our bigmen, this month we have to come to terms with the one and only three games in three nights sequences the schedulers gave us. I was certain we’d have more than just one of these. But I was wrong. It’s the Back-to-Back-to-Back series of playing three Western Conference playoff teams in a row, all on the road: at the Memphis Grizzlies, at the New Orleans Hornets, at the Oklahoma City Thunder. The good news is that these cities aren’t super far from one another. The great news is that hopefully all these road trips will make our team develop an ‘us against the world’ mentality. The bad news is that it’s three games in as many nights, compounded by travel to three different cities. Ultimately, the reality is probably three losses. The silver lining in this season so far is that January should have given the Jazz to showcase our talent a bit, and we could have a few players in the Rookie-Sophomore game during All-Star Weekend. That is, of course, unless Tyrone Corbin also has a dog house that he likes to imprison younger players in. Gosh golly, Raja Bell really needs to play his minutes. He’s a savvy veteran dontchaknow? [Note: Raja Bell’s per game minutes went up in the months after Jerry Sloan’s resignation – playing nearly 33 minutes per game, almost 5 more minutes per game than when the Jazz were winning games for Jerry Sloan back in the early part of the 2010-2011 season.]

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March:

Back in the pre-lockout days the Utah Jazz were scheduled to have a widow-making March. It was the Bataan Death Marches of Utah Jazz March schedules. It was so ridiculous that it actually had the Jazz scheduled to play 19 games in a 31 day month! That may not look crazy by itself, but in THIS CONDENSED SCHEDULE, one where all teams have to play one or more Back-to-Back-to-Back sets, and where there is hardly a day off, has the Utah Jazz playing the same number of games that they were scheduled to play in March. The 82 game schedule and the 66 game schedule both had the Jazz playing a tough, 19 game March. But this one looks a lot better because of spacing. Let’s not overlook the point that the "82 game schedule March" had the Jazz playing in their "3rd game in four nights" a whopping 14 times that month. Again, 14 out of a total 19 games where one where they were out of gas. In the "66 game schedule March", the Jazz only have 13 such situations occurring. And this March is littered with one-off road games against Eastern Conference foes. I went over the two Marches here, some of what I said there was accurate, while some of that stuff was counted incorrectly. The Heat/Mavs Back-to-Back set will hurt. The road games in Cleveland and Charlotte should not. With increasing time to dwell on the month I’m sure even more gems will be found – like how for a whole week we face a bunch of teams that on any given night we should walk away from with a win, and none of them are harder than the Phoenix Suns on the road. March will be where we figure out if we’re in the playoff hunt, or not.

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April:

If you look at how we finished last season, this month could be the last month of the Jazz’ lockout shortened 2011-2012 season. For a strange reason we’re still playing an Eastern Conference team during this month – our third last game is against the Orlando Magic. That game is on TV, and I sure hope by then we have a clearer understanding of just who we’re supposed to be playing than we do now. Perhaps that game will show Alec Burks having a Gordon Hayward –like late season surge? Who knows? Surely not I, that’s for sure. About half of our opponents this month should be gunning for a playoff spot. The other half should be gunning for ping pong balls. I’m sure the Jazz position on this month will be to win as many games as possible. The team will finish on a three game home stand (a tie for second longest of the season), I’m sure the Jazz fans will all be there. I really hope that the team (players and front office) do enough over the course of this season to deserve the unconditional support of the best fans in the NBA.

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Prediction Time:

I predict the Jazz will play at least 66 games this year. They’ll be in a lot more of them than their final record will show. I think we can break even, but it will be an upward climb. The Jazz finish between 30-35 wins if everyone stays healthy.

Each month I will go enough more detail for each set of games, but I will hold off on a December preview until after free agency.

Go Jazz Go!

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Spoilers:

Leo’s totem in Inception is spinning without any apparent effect from a realistic co-efficient of friction because Alec Burks will be All-NBA Rookie First team, if he gets the minutes he deserves.

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