The Utah Jazz start their fourth extended road trip of the season this week. The first one had the Jazz go 2-1, dropping the first game of the season to the Detroit Pistons, but coming back to take the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers. In the second tripe Utah only went 1-3, but the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Atlanta Hawks are supposed to be good or something. In the third extended trip Utah was supposed to play the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Washington Wizards. That last game had to be rescheduled till after the All-Star break, and for the then three games the Jazz went 1-2. See a pattern so far? The Jazz go East once more this week, and will tip off against the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans. Four games in six nights, with only one back-to-back? Probably not that hard, but the last two are going to be so meaningful.
- Sunday: --
Monday: The Boston Celtics dropped their game in Utah and are in win now mode right now and fighting for a Top 4 seed in the East. Boston is 19-10 at home and have won four games in a row (at the time of this writing). It's going to be interesting to see how Shelvin Mack matches up against their All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas. Gordon Hayward playing for the fans who dream of him, that's going to be a special game for all the Butler fans as well. Still though, our bigs should win that game even if Boston is great on the glass.
Wednesday: The Toronto Raptors are like the Celtics, but moreso. This is a team that may make the Eastern Conference Finals, or more, depending on how far their stars can take them. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will give the Jazz fits, and their bench is very legit. Still, I do want to see the Jazz win a game on this trip. But it's probably not going to be this game.
Friday: The Memphis Grizzlies were supposed to taper off after Marc Gasol went down for the season, but they were active at the trade deadline and have gone 3-2 since the All-Star Break. Of course, those three wins were against the Minnesota Timberwolves once and the Los Angeles Lakers twice. So I don't really know how good they are right now with this Mike Conley / Zach Randolph / Lance Stephenson / Matt Barnes / Vince Carter core. But as the recent loss to the Nets (at home) should tell us, we can't take anyone for granted. I do remember that the Jazz of 2014-2015 really started to go on a run after the break, and a big win in Memphis was one of the catalysts. This could be the case again this season.
- Saturday: The New Orleans Pelicans beat Utah on February 10th and snapped their 7 game win streak. Utah couldn't handle Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday down the stretch. As of this writing the Pelicans are 11th in the West but with how closely bunched up the teams are, this game could mean a lot to them. It's also the second game of a back to back for the Jazz, and the third game in four nights. Furthermore, it's the last game of their road trip. Utah could be gassed. Then again, months ago this was the situation for the Hawks game that the Jazz won in Overtime after being tired. I honestly don't know which Jazz team will show up on any given night.
I think the Jazz can go 2-2 on this trip. A few weeks ago I would have felt they could have gone 3-1, but hey, it's not a few weeks ago.