The Utah Jazz schedule has been out for almost a full day, and we’ve had a little more time to digest it since it’s release yesterday afternoon. It’s going to be a crazy fun year in the NBA, regardless of which team you follow (okay, maybe not Hornets fans if there’s any of you reading this). After a historic offseason for the Utah Jazz, one in which they probably made the biggest moves this franchise has ever seen, expectations and hype are higher than they’ve been in decades. Looking at the 2019-20 NBA schedule, specifically for the Utah Jazz, what games stick out? Here’s a ranking guide for the top 15 games on the schedule for this upcoming season, and why you won’t want to miss these when they roll around this fall, winter and spring.
15. VS Memphis Grizzlies, December 12
When the Jazz made their move for point guard Mike Conley, they had to give up some pieces. Jae Crowder, who was a relative fan-favorite due to his passion and ability to start fights, makes his return to Salt Lake City and the place he called home for a season and half. Crowder will definitely be received well in Vivint Arena, and we can probably expect some type of acknowledgement on Crowder’s behalf. Maybe a finger point, or a chest tap or something cool towards the crowd. They loved him here. Crowder, who was also known for his streaky shooting, will undoubtedly either score 22 on 6-8 shooting from three, or 5 points on 1-9, expect either of those two options. This game will not be the first between Mike Conley and his former team (that game will follow here shortly), but this one is also notable for that reason. Also, Grayson Allen revenge game.
14. @ Phoenix Suns, October 28
This will be the fourth game of the Jazz’s season, and will be an important one to win given their tough opening stretch of games. It will also be the first time that the Jazz face Ricky Rubio on the opposite side of the court. Let me be clear in stating that I fully expect Ricky Rubio to truly rip everyone’s hearts out in this game. Both in making us miss him, and probably scoring a lot of points. It just seems like that’s going to happen. Also, it’s worth noting that Suns Twitter (mostly Devin Booker stans) and Jazz Twitter (mostly DM stans) have been going at for like 2 years over a weird little battle between fanbases. This will give a good opportunity for some walkin’ instead of talkin’.
13. VS Denver Nuggets, February 5 (ESPN)
One of 17 National TV (ESPN/TNT) games the Jazz will play in this season will fall in early February against the Nuggets. There’s been a good amount of beef between these two teams the last couple of matchups, including some ejections for fighting, a bunch of technicals, and a couple heckling fans in Denver that caught the attention of Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles. Nuggets-Jazz is a lowkey underrated rivalry, and this game on national TV right before the All-Star break is definitel going to be worth the watch.
12. VS Phoenix Suns, February 24
Ricky Rubio’s return to Utah probably isn’t worth a top-10 rating of games to look forward to, at least not in the eyes of most Jazz fans (it is in mine, but I’m a Ricky guy). It’s going to be fun to see how Ricky is greeting by the crowd, and if he has any reaction to them. He loved his time here, he really wanted it to work out, but it just didn’t. It will be fun to see Ricky play on the Jazz court again, and it will be fun to see Devin Booker take another L even if he scores 30 plus.
11. VS Denver Nuggets, April 14 (TNT)
This game should probably be higher given that it’s the regular season finale, but it also could end up being a totally meaningless game. It could also be a HUGE game in terms of playoff seeding, just look at how things ended up last season (SMH). This game could be the biggest game of the season, but it also could not be. Don’t really know what else to say here.
10. VS Golden State Warriors, December 13 (ESPN)
Friday night. ESPN. Golden State Warriors. Showtime. The Jazz will take on the new-look Warriors after they acquired D’Angelo Russell in free agency. Tables may have turned a bit, with the Jazz bolstering in the off-season and the Warriors losing KD to Brooklyn and Klay to injury in the Finals. The Warriors will still bring the heat as Steph Curry tries to go ballistic on a nightly basis.
9. VS Milwaukee Bucks, November 8
When the Bucks visited Utah last season, it turned out to be one of the best games of the entire season. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be gathering crowds left and right as he makes his tour of reigning MVP, and becomes a sight to see in NBA cities across the country. This will be no different in Salt Lake City. The Bucks are favored to make it out of the East as contenders for the NBA Finals, with the Greek Freak leading the way. Spinkle on top of his matchup the Kyle Korver return game, and this is a must-watch.
8. @ Memphis Grizzlies, November 15 (ESPN)
Newly-acquired point guard Mike Conley makes his return to Memphis to face the Grizzlies, the team he played for for 12 seasons. It’ll be an emotional game for Conley for sure, and will be some good television for the world to see on ESPN. This will also be the first time Jae Crowder and Grayson Allen face the Jazz after being traded for Conley this summer.
7. VS Los Angeles Lakers, December 4 (NBA TV)
LeBron James is yet to play in Utah as a member of the Lakers. He’s lost his last seven games in Utah, and has not won here since 2010. Will this be the year that he breaks the curse? This will also be the first time that the Jazz host the LeBron and Anthony Davis power duo, which should be a great matchup. It is worth mentioning that this game will be on the second game of a back-to-back, so if LeBron is in any type of “load management” cycle, he may not even be here for this matchup. But assuming he plays, this game will be a big one.
6. @ Boston Celtics, March 6 (ESPN)
It feels like the Gordon Hayward drama has fizzled off a little bit, but once these matchups roll around it should fire right back up. Hayward is so far 0-2 against the Jazz since he left them, and the Jazz will look to keep it that way this season. Another win on ESPN against Hayward and the Celtics would be a highlight of the season for many Jazz fans, and that’s the way it should be.
5. VS Houston Rockets, January 27 (NBA TV)
The new-look Jazz vs. the new-look Rockets. A rematch of the 2019 NBA Playoffs first round, with a new makeover for both squads. This will also be Russell Westbrook’s first time in Salt Lake since his infamous run in with a Jazz fan that ended up in a lifetime ban from the arena. Should be pretty dramatic, but we will see.
4. VS Boston Celtics, February 26 (ESPN)
Hayward. Jazz fans. Best drama on TV. Lots of boos last year, don’t expect any less this year. We were gifted with a Mitchell iso on Hayward last season, what’s in store this year? Above all the drama, nothing is better than a big W.
3. VS Los Angeles Clippers, October 30 (ESPN)
This will be the Jazz’s fifth game of the regular season, and will be a big one. It will be their first shot at the NBA’s new favorite team, one that shook the NBA world in acquiring the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. We will see how the Jazz stars rack up against those of the Clippers, on a primetime slate on national TV.
2. VS New Orleans Pelicans, November 23 (NBA TV)
The triumphant return of Derrick Favors. After nine seasons in a Jazz uniform, and definitely becoming a fan favorite, Favors will play his first game back in Utah territory. We shouldn’t expect anything less than a standing ovation from the crowd as his name is announced pregame, or if/when he checks into the game off the bench. Favors 4 Lyfe. This game will also be a lot of fun to watch Zion Williamson, who might just be the most exciting NBA rookie since LeBron James.
1. @ Los Angels Lakers, October 25 (ESPN)
This game comes in at number one, mostly due to the amount of anticipation it gets for being earliest in the schedule. Everyone’s going to be waiting for this game. The Jazz will take on the star-studded duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the first time on Friday night of NBA opening week on ESPN. The whole world will be watching. Kinda feels like it will have a similar vibe to last year’s game against the Warriors on opening week (still hurts to think about that one). The Jazz’s shiny new toys will be put to work to see how they operate and if they can help secure a win against one of the top projected teams this upcoming season. The Jazz lost both games in LA last year, can they make up for it this season in their second game? It’s going to be a lot of fun.