The NBA Schedule is out. You can catch the official Jazz schedule from the official Jazz website here. But judging from the fact that you're at a non-official Jazz website (and have no doubt already seen this) that you may be looking for a bit more. Jerry is. Jerry wants you to give it your all, doesn't matter if you are a 6 year veteran, a rookie, a mop boy, or a fan. Jerry Sloan wants you to bring it. And here at SLC Dunk, we have . . .
N.B. These images are huge, I don't even know if they will show up on your screen resolution - make sure you are looking at sb nation though their wide format . . .
First off, let's get the easy stuff out of the way. As previously mentioned we have 1) a killer road trip in November, 2) less than 20 back-to-backs (woo!) and 3) an April schedule that isn't specifically expecting the Jazz to fail this time down the stretch. Because of the schedule dynamics of having 30 teams, every year the Jazz play a number of Western conference teams only 3 times. This year they are Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. We play in Houston and LA twice, and host the Suns and Spurs twice. There are 19 back-to-back games; 27 games that will be the 3rd game in 4 nights; 2 games that are the 4th game in 5 nights; and 3 games that will be the 5th game in 7 nights.
It looks bad on paper, but when you chart it all out, aside from some trouble spots, this is a schedule that has been, honestly, a lot better than in seasons past. Baring injuries, the incidental issues (my term for things like back-to-back games, or TV games or whatever) look to impact this team in only a minor way. I think this is a 50 win team. Let's go deeper, shall we?
The regular season starts on October 26th this year, and the Jazz play only three games this month that count: two on the road, and one at home.Of course, all three are against Western Conference playoff teams from the previous season . . . why would the NBA give the Jazz a cream puff schedule like the Lakers get? Denver is the requisite 'revenge game' that the Jazz have to face (like the T-Mac/Yao Houston opener the year after beating them in the 1st round). Phoenix is always dangerous, and if you listen to the blogs, Oklahoma City is winning the title next year, so all three of these games will be hard.
This is where the fun starts . . . 5 back-to-backs in this month alone, coupled with 7 games that will be the 3rd game in 4 nights. If facing three West playoff teams to start the season wasn't bad enough, the Jazz will face 4 more this month. OF course, all of these West games sandwich the first real test of the season - a four game Eastern road trip where the Jazz will face Miami, Orlando, Atlanta (a team we can't beat in their gym), and then Charlotte (the 4th game in 5 nights). It's possible for the Jazz to finish that trip with zero wins, and we'll hear about it in ESPN's power poll for sure that week. November isn't a lost month though, the Jazz still play the Raptors, Clippers (twice), the Nets and the Kings. (A team we should theoretically beat) The key game for this month will, of course, be the second game of the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder - the home game on the 15th. I'm not expecting a welcoming atmosphere in the previous game of this series, and here the Jazz fans need to support their team. It will be the 5th game in 7 nights for the Jazz and the first game back after a long road trip. If the Jazz lose this one the doomsayers will come out in droves, but let's not forget the incidental issues of the first home game back being like another road game, and so forth.
There are only 14 games this month, and it's split down the middle between being at home or on the road. The Jazz finish their season series' with Miami and Orlando this month and face Dallas and Portland twice this month as well (a game at home and on the road each for both teams). The games at Dallas and at Portland will both be the second game in a back-to-back set *and* the 3rd game in 4 nights. How nice. D-Locke thinks that Jazz will 'go nuts' this month. I hope he is right.The longest home stand of the season starts Nov 29th and ends December 10th, the Jazz will face 6 teams during this stretch. Shortly after is a 4 game road trip that bounces around from New Orleans to Minnesota.
With 16 games on the schedule the Jazz begin to fall into easy to see patterns of Wednesday games being followed by Friday/Saturday back-to-back sets. There is a 5 game road trip that spans the entire continental United States. According to the media, it's so long, the Jazz actually spend a night in their own beds in Salt Lake City before playing their last game, which will be against the Lakers. Right after that game the Jazz fly back to Utah to play the Spurs at home.
The Jazz play 12 games in this month that's short to start with, but also features the NBA All-Star Weekend. Six of those games are against West playoff teams, one against the Eastern conference champion Boston Celtics, and one against the Chicago Jazz at home. There is a three game road trip through Dallas, Indiana and Detroit (woo! hope I'm not working that night) and for those keeping score at home, yes, the game against Oklahoma City (game 3 in the 4 game series) will also be a back-to-back game that's the 3rd game in 4 nights. Must be great to be a team mate of Kevin Durant . . .
The Jazz play a number of tough games this month. There are two road trips (New York, Toronto, Minnesota and Chicago; Houston, Memphis and Oklahoma City - also a 3rd game in 4 nights) that will need our attention, however, the biggest games will be against New Orleans (the night after the Thunder game) and against Dallas two nights later. These are two of the last 10 games of the regular season and every win against a Western conference foe is needed. Also please take a special note about the 'incidental' issues that will contribute to those two games as well. Hopefully some of these teams are in early tank mode.
Unlike previous Aprils where the Jazz play a number of back to backs, this month is free of any of those incidental issues. Sure, there are more road games than home games - but not every game is against a West power. Playing the Lakers twice is always fun (for them) this month. What is more important about those two games are the two games against Northwest division foes (Portland and Denver). These two games are at home, and are must wins.
I could go on into more details about each month, but I leave it up for us all to discuss when those months actually come around. I'm going to be adding more analysis in the comments section below, so be sure to participate as well!