Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Hello boys and girls and esteemed media members. We crunched all the data, looked at all the schedules, and even took two whole days off (I had this done before the weekend, but decided to get some "me-time" instead). We have another 82 games to fight for. And while I did an initial review of the schedule over here, we go into much more depth in this one. (And yes, we have super high res schedules for smart phone, tablet, and other type of tech savvy Jazz fan to download and have with them at all times!)
So, yeah. Let's get going!
I think the first thing we have to say is that this is one of the best schedules I can ever remember the Utah Jazz having. Even compared to schedule of the team that went to the Western Conference Finals (the Oklahoma City Thunder), our schedule isn't that bad.
It is, obviously, 82 games long. (See you later, Route 66, don't come back!) The Jazz will play those games in about 171 days, so that's an average of 0.48 games per day (GPD). We'll use this metric to look at how good or crappy different parts of the schedule is. Over all there are only two really bad months: November, and March. And that's pretty much par for the course when it comes to Jazz schedule. The really interesting / unique thing is that the Jazz do not really get "hosed" at any part of the schedule. Yes, things get tough -- but for instance, this is the first year the Jazz have ZERO games that are in a dreaded "4 games in 5 nights" block. The Jazz do have 25 games that are the "3rd game in 4 nights" though, but surprisingly only 17 back to backs.
The reason why November is so harsh isn't just the fact that the Jazz will play a lot of games (highest GPD rank of the season), but it's the type of games. There are 7 games that will be the 3rd game in 4 nights, and 4 that will be back to backs. IN NOVEMBER ALONE WE HAVE 7 3rd game in 4 nights sets. That's medieval. There are also 11 road games in November. I do not anticipate the Jazz to look great coming out of the gate.
The middle three months of December, January, and February ease up, and this is where our team will make their climb. March is going to sting, especially if we drop some games we should have rather won -- but in the end, specifically April, we have control over what we're doing. There are 8 total games, 5 at home, and 5 all against our own division. If we want to get a non-last place in the playoffs seed we have a shot at it. There are no B2Bs in April, which is a breath of fresh air. In the last few seasons we'd end on some horrible stretch. Not so this year.
The Schedule makers gave the Jazz a good schedule this year. So thank you. I'll show you what I mean . . . take a look at the leniency we got compared to the rest of our division.
We have the second best schedule in our division. We have zero 4 games in 5 night sets. We don't have the most 3 in 4. We're right in the middle in terms of b2b games, and we have the least b2b games on the road. We get the second most 'rested' days. We also have the second most long rest periods. (Not that we play well after that sort of thing, but still!)
If you were going to complain about something it would be that the Jazz aren't playing on Thursday at all this season. That means no TNT games, but it also means we lose something we were actually good at. The Jazz won 60.0 % of their games on Thursday last season.
Instead, we get more games on Wed, a day we only win 35.7% of our games on. Things are much more organized though. The Jazz always know they're either at home doing laundry, or on a plane on Thursday night. I'm more interested in who we play, rather than when we play. And, well, there are four teams we only play 3 times against every season, and this season they are the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Dallas Mavericks. I guess that's the benefit we get from being in the North West division. That said, the division is going to be rough this year.
We have our last game against the Lakers ALL THE WAY BACK IN JANUARY. Similarly, we have our last games against the Clippers and Kings in February. If the injury bugs hit those teams right we could get an easier time than normal - and also not have to deal with late season focus and cohesion. Or the opposite, we could be injured, or we could miss out on playing a team that's tanking.
April is always the money month for playoff seeding. And we have eight games against possible playoff teams that month. We need to make them count.
Over all it is a good schedule. There are no crazy quirks, and we'll go into more of that later -- but right now, let's go into it month by month. After all, that's what you came here for, right?
- 1 Game (1 home, 0 road).
- 1 game vs. Western Conference.
Overview: There is only one game this month, our season opener and home opener against the Dallas Mavericks. Eff those guys. Go Jazz go! N.B. NBA Pre-season schedule is not out, those are the only two games I know of. I will add more as I get that info.
- Oct 31st: DAL @ UTA - This is it, let's start the season off with a win!
Amar's July Prediction: 1-0 (Season: 1-0)
- 16 Games (5 home, 11 road)
- 12 games vs. Western Conference
- 4 Back to backs
- 7 3 games in 4 nights sets
Overview: This month is going to sting, but luckily, it's not like we had a lot of turn over from last season. Oh wait, we do? We may have 2 or 3 new starters (Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, and Derrick Favors)? Well, at least a lot of other teams are going to be new too. There's a four game East swing in the middle of the month that has the Jazz playing a bunch of teams we SHOULD be able to handle; Raptors with Kyle Lowry; Celtics without Ray Allen, 76ers without Lou Williams; and Wizards, in general. The home games we have are super important because there are so few of them. The Jazz are on the road or traveling almost every day. There is a home and home with the Sacramento Kings that we should win. You know, we should have swept them last season but that did not happen. Ugh, this month is going to be hard.
- Nov 7th: LAL @ UTA - We hate the Lakers. This is obviously a big game.
- Nov 9th: UTA @ DEN - We also hate the Nuggets. Rivals.
- Nov 10th: PHX @ UTA - Wow, only our third 3 games in 4 nights in the month. Fun.
- Nov 12th: UTA @ TOR - most likely the first game I get to see them play in this season
Amar's July Prediction: 8-8 (Season: 9-8)
- 15 Games (7 home, 8 road)
- 9 games vs. Western Conference
- 4 Back to backs
- 3 3 games in 4 nights sets
Overview: This month features a lot more friendly home games, much more spread out games, and playing an average number of GPD (0.48). This month is going to be a lot better. The Jazz have a good home stretch where they face the Clippers, Magic, and Raptors. After dipping in and out of SLC the Jazz have a four game East swing that takes them to play the Nets, Pacers, Heat, and Magic. The Jazz finish this month playing the Clippers two more times. Yes, we play the Clippers three times this month. That's pretty big for Mo Williams and Randy Foye, I'm sure.
- Dec 1st: UTA @ HOU - Another rival game, a B2B game, that's also the 3rd game in 4. And we played OKC the night before. This game will be a good test
- Dec 3rd, 28th, 30th: LAC @ UTA, UTA @ LAC, LAC @ UTA - Three of our four games against this team i nthe same month. Crazy.
- Dec 12th: SAS @ UTA - can the Jazz build on the momentum from the last quarter of their last game in the playoffs? This will be Game 2 against the Spurs this year. And we hate the Spurs but respect them.
- Dec 18th: UTA @ BRK - Deron Williams (and new team mates) welcomes his old team to his new home. Will he finally have a good game against us? Will Mo get abused?
Amar's July Prediction: 7-8 (Season: 16-16)
- 14 Games (8 home, 6 road)
- 7 games vs. Western Conference
- 3 Back to backs
- 6 3 games in 4 nights sets
Overview: January is our first month of the season where we play more home games than road games. It's also the first month of the season where the Jazz will play a lower than average GPD (only 0.45, while average is 0.48). I think this is the month where the Jazz star their ascent. There is a three game east swing (Bobcats, Hawks, Pistons), and besides that, it's mostly smooth sailing. PHX/DEN, ATL/DET, and LAL/IND back to backs will exist, but I don't really FEAR any of them save for the Lakers. The Lakers game will be the last game against them this season, unless we face off in the playoffs. There is that crazy 4 nights off stretch in this month as well.
- Jan 2nd: MIN @ UTA - Andrei Kirilenko returns to the crowd he used to delight for years. We better not boo him
- Jan 5th: UTA @ DEN - the third of four games against our rivals. Another crazy B2B and 3 in 4 set
- Jan 11th: UTA @ ATL - This will be Marvin Williams' first game back in Atlanta after the trade. This could be his "Revenge Game" against the Hawks. Oh, Also the same thing kinda goes for Devin Harris as well. This will be an interesting, hopefully 5 OT game.
- Jan 12th: UTA @ DET - If I don't go to the games in Indy, Cle, and Chi, this will be my last Jazz game of the year
- Jan 14th: MIA @ UTA - the Champs come into Utah. The Jazz beat Miami once a season, will we be able to withstand the Heat again?
- Jan 25th: UTA @ LAL - our last game against them, let's win it on their court again!
Amar's July Prediction: 9-5 (Season: 25-21)
- 12 Games (8 home, 4 road)
- 8 games vs. Western Conference
- 3 Back to backs
- 3 3 games in 4 nights sets
Overview: This is the cream-puff month. It's only a 0.43 GPD, and there are only three back to backs. There are no road trips (just one-off games on the road), and lots of nights off. There's also the All-Star break. I don't know if the Jazz will have the record to deserve an All-Star this year, regardless of individual play. That said, that may work out in our favor as it gives us a chip on our shoulder to come out and 'win' the second half of the season like we did last season (we went from #12 in the West to #8). Hopefully we'll see both Alec Burks and Enes Kanter at the Rookie/Soph game (whatever it is called when Shaq and Chuck pick the teams). Jeremy Evans, hopefully, will have gotten enough PT to defend his title in the dunk contest as well.
- Feb 1st/2nd: POR @ UTA, UTA @ POR - The month starts off with a back to back / home and home set against the Trail Blazers. We need to win both of those games
- Feb 4th/9th: SAC @ UTA, UTA @ SAC - These are our last two games against the Kings and need to win these games too. Winning these four games against Western Conference teams we are better than are absolutely essential.
- Feb 13th: UTA @ MIN - This is the last game before the All-Star Break, and important to go into the break on a high note
- Feb 23th: UTA @ LAC - This is, somehow, the last of four games against the Clippers this year. Yes, we finish the season series against the Clippers and Kings in February. Two months to go still in the regular season. Odd.
- Feb 25th: BOS @ UTA - This is a TV game, and one of the last chances Al Jefferson has to actually ever beat the Celtics (he's never beaten the team he was drafted by in his career). We were really close two seasons ago . . .
Amar's July Prediction: 7-5 (Season: 32-26)
- 16 Games (7 home, 9 road)
- 8 games vs. Western Conference
- 3 Back to backs
- 5 3 games in 4 nights sets
Overview: This is the last killer month of the season - 0.52 GPD. 5 more 3 in 4 sets. Two road trips: Bucks, Cavaliers, Bulls, Knicks; and then the Texas Triangle of Rockets, Spurs, and Mavericks. The Jazz spend more of this month playing guys in the Central and Eastern time zone, but still had to fly all the way out to Portland. Madness. The Jazz will have two games against the ever-new-look Knicks. Both on TV. The Jazz will also have TV games against the Thunder and Grizzlies. If the Jazz are playing better and winning games we could get some media attention moving into the next month of the season. Of course, it's not going to be easy. None of the teams we'll be playing, except for the Bobcats on the first of this month, are supposed to be push overs. It will be a dogfight this month. If the Jazz can stay afloat we'll be the better for it. The proverbial iceberg to our floatation dreams is our 5 games in 7 nights stretch. We have zero 4 games in 5 nights -- but we still can't escape this monster: at Dallas, back at home vs. Philly, at home vs. Phoenix, then fly out to play at Portland, then fly back to Utah to play Brooklyn. Two of those five games are back to back games, and necessarily so, three of those five games are the 3rd game in five nights. March is a beast. It always is.
- Mar 13th, UTA @ OKC - A measuring stick game against the best in the west
- Mar 20th, UTA @ HOU - Our last game against the Rockets this regular season
- Mar 22nd, UTA @ SAS - Our last game against the Spurs this regular season
- Mar 24th, UTA @ DAL - the end of our Texas triangle, and our last game against the Mavericks.
- Mar 29th, UTA @ POR - this is a must win
- Mar 30th, BRK @ UTA - our last game against Deron Williams this season, the 2nd night of a back to back, 3rd game in four nights, and 5th game in seven nights. This is also the last game of the month of March. Defeating D-Will means defeating the March Monster personified.
Amar's July Prediction: 8-8 (Season: 40-34)
- 8 Games (5 home, 3 road)
- 8 games vs. Western Conference
- 0 Back to backs
- 1 3 games in 4 nights sets
Overview: This month is the money month. Aside from that one Blazers game that's the 6th game in 9 games (Whaaat?), the rest of the month should be easy and straight forward. There are our peers, and at full strength we should give them all trouble. The games we need to win are at home, and the games we have a better than normal chance to steal are on the road. We only play one contender this month. Our destiny is in our own hands.
- Every game, really . . .
- yes, every game. From the game vs. the GSW, to the home at home vs. the Wolves, to our last game against the Grizz. Every game is a big game at this stage of the season.
Amar's July Prediction: 5-3 (Season: 45-37)
So I guess I think the Jazz are winning 45 games this season? I guess that's a homer pov. There are more factors that will change that in reality. Injuries, personalities, trades, and also the rest of the off-season and the potential moves that are yet to be made. The Jazz went 36 for 66 last season, that was a win percentage of 54.5%. I'm looking at this schedule and under-selling the Jazz (better than over-selling them and getting burned). I have them at 45-37, which is a win percentage of 54.9%. We're a better team and I recognize that, I just do not want to get my hopes up.
There are a billion people in contract years, and we're all seriously banking on steady and predictable improvement from our C4 guys (Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks). In the real world you do not usually 'bank' on the steady and predictable reliability of 21 year olds.
All things said I'm okay with 45 +/- 3 wins for this squad. I don't see them hitting 50 just yet (prove me wrong Jazz, I like to be wrong about things like that), and I don't see them going under .500 either.
If you were too lazy to notice before . .