NBA Schedule 2013-2014: The Utah Jazz' forward March

Kevin C. Cox

The defining moment of this month may very well be the 1-5 Eastern Conference road trip that concluded last night; however, there are three very important parts of this month for the Utah Jazz.

I'm relieved that the Utah Jazz salvaged a game on that dreadful Eastern Conference Road trip. Only 13% of voters felt like the team would go 1-5, but they were correct. I can understand losing to the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards -- both are solid playoff teams. I can kind of understand, especially in light of historical evidence, why the New York Knicks would beat us in their gym. The Cleveland Cavaliers had the best player on the floor and that usually is all it takes to beat us when we're on the road. I really can't get behind losing to the Milwaukee Bucks though, and when the Philadelphia 76ers tied the game with less than three minutes to go I was worried. Glad we won that game, if not for any other reason than the collective mood of the guys in the locker room.

That six game trip was a beast. There are other animals to slay this month. In particular there are three different three game bunches. This week the Jazz host the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Clippers. It's an easy three games in five nights. Then the Jazz go on the road again and face the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Memphis Grizzlies. That's three games in four nights all on the road. And then they hop back home and play another three game set: the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, and Memphis Grizzlies. That's another three games in five nights.

Each three game block is it's own mini-test. It's like the GRE or some other computer test where the next question you get is based upon how well you answered the one before it.

The first block has us playing three playoff teams. One from the East and two from the West.

Season Last 20 Last 10 Game
Date Team Seed W L % W L % W L % Situation
1 Mon 10 Hawks East 8 26 35 42.6% 4 16 20.0% 1 9 10.0% Road Trip 6 of 6
2 Wed 12 Mavericks West 8 37 26 58.7% 12 8 60.0% 6 4 60.0% Road Trip 2 of 3
3 Fri 14 Clippers West 4 44 20 68.8% 15 5 75.0% 8 2 80.0% Road Trip 1 of 1
Totals 107 81 56.9% 31 29 51.7% 15 15 50.0%

Atlanta will be finishing their own 6 game road trip against us. They're tired. They played a lot, and lost every single one. Paul Millsap has returned, but they're still without Al Horford, Gustavo Ayon, and John Jenkins. They are playing poorly over the last 20 and last 10 games. If you look at the profile of the teams we beat it's usually teams that are currently in a downswing, tired, injured, and road weary. The Hawks fit the bill.

Dallas is a much greater challenge and it's in the best interests of the Jazz to lose this one -- Dallas is one of the few teams in the West that could possible catch the Golden State Warriors. They'll be without Wayne Ellington and also playing in the middle of a back-to-back set that is also collecting into the third game in four nights. Hopefully the better team wins that night. And I hope that's the Mavs this season for the sake of our pick that's coming in June.

The last game of this home stand looks to be the "let's make sure you didn't guess the right answer for the last one" question. Sure, they're without J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley is also currently injured but that team is stacked. During the course of this season they've added Danny Granger, Sasha Vujacic, Hedo Turkoglu, and Glen Davis. They're gunning for the best season in their LA history. The game is an orphan, it's a one off roadie for them with no games before or after it. I can imagine this being "one of those games" for the Jazz.

The second block, our road-block, has us doing a three games in four nights trip in the Bible Belt.

Season Last 20 Last 10 Game
Date Team Seed W L % W L % W L % Situation
1 Sun 16 Spurs West 2 46 16 74.2% 14 6 70.0% 9 1 90.0% Road Trip 1 of 3
2 Mon 17 Rockets West 3 43 19 69.4% 16 4 80.0% 8 2 80.0% Road Trip 2 of 3
3 Wed 19 Grizzlies West 9 36 26 58.1% 14 6 70.0% 8 2 80.0% Road Trip 3 of 3
Totals 125 61 67.2% 44 16 73.3% 25 5 83.3%

The Spurs, Rockets, and Grizz are all playing their best ball right now. They have minimal injuries, and we're still a really bad road team. They are a combined 25-5 in their cumulative last 10 games. Yikes. Memphis isn't a playoff team, but they are really trying hard to make it. They're missing Quincy Pondexter, but that's not the end of the world. Right?

The Jazz play their last three game set this month in another three game homestand. This is the end of the exam grab bag that works against you because you're already second guessing your previous answers.

Season Last 20 Last 10 Game
Date Team Seed W L % W L % W L % Situation
1 Sat 22 Magic East 13 19 45 29.7% 7 13 35.0% 3 7 30.0% Road Trip 3 of 4
2 Mon 24 Pistons East 9 24 38 38.7% 7 13 35.0% 2 8 20.0% Road Trip 4 of 4
3 Wed 26 Grizzlies West 9 36 26 58.1% 14 6 70.0% 8 2 80.0% Road Trip 1 of 5
Totals 79 109 42.0% 28 32 46.7% 13 17 43.3%

The Magic stink, and want to. They'll be playing in game 3 of a four game road trip, and right now Victor Oladipo is popping up on some injury reports (Sunday) for something that may or may not keep him out of any games. This game is being played nearly 2 weeks from now so we don't know what his status will be then. But if he's out, this team fits the profile of a team we can beat on the road.

The Pistons are another, and not just because we beat them in their gym. They are in a significant funk right now, and while they have 'on paper' talent they aren't putting it together into on court wins. They'll be playing in their last game of a four game road trip, and may get caught looking at their return home instead of this game. No Chauncey Billups for them for the majority of the season has been a huge problem for them on and off the court.

The Last game is a home game were we host the Grizz. This will be their first game in a five game road trip. We should lose this. Not because the fit the profile of a team that beats us in our gym (they do); but I mean we should lose this game because it helps them out, which gets them closer to the Warriors, which in turn helps US out.

At the end of this group of three three-game sets I think we'll know a lot more about how the Jazz fare against the best and the worst out there. The trade deadline is over. The NBA draft is approaching. We need to learn more about more than just the Jazz though. We have to learn more about the players who make up the team, and how they play.

Regardless of record we, as fans, hope they play well.

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