The Utah Jazz are coming off a huge win over LeBron James and the defending champs. It was a game the Jazz looked poised to win then destined to lose, but they showed some real grit and determination to finish what they started. They beat the champs and, seemingly, this year’s favorites to repeat as NBA champs.
It was a great start to a three game home stand. More importantly, I think it was a great start to a very favorable upcoming schedule. Let’s take a look.
This is the upcoming schedule through March 6th. After that, the schedule gets pretty tough. But hey, let’s not worry about that. This section of the schedule gives the team 24 games. 14 are at home at the Viv. The road games should not be considered daunting. We’ll play on the road against the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Sacramento Kings.
In the next image, I break down (on my own homeriffic, non-biased, personal judgement) how I see these games playing out. Green arrows signify a game the team should definitely win. Yellow arrows signify a difficult game in which I feel the team will win. Red arrows signify a game I think the team loses.
The Clippers are the best team that we play over the next two months. Think about that. We play them at home. That is a game that is definitely winnable. Heck, so is the game at OKC. There are only two back-to-backs, and I don’t think either of them will really be much of a factor.
I keep going back over my predictions because it seems like I’m being a HUGE homer. I think about the games objectively and these are the predictions I’m sticking with. The first two yellow arrows, for example, are two home games against OKC and Memphis. These are obviously two tough teams. But, at the the same time, these are two teams that we have already beaten this season.
These predictions are made assuming the team has George Hill and doesn’t lose anyone else to injury. Those are the only assumptions that matter to me. Hopefully Derrick Favors keeps progressing and becomes impactful again. Hopefully Alec Burks becomes the offensive juggernaut that he is when fully healthy. Hopefully Shelvin Mack is not relied on too heavily. Hopefully Dante Exum can supplant him at some point. That’s another discussion. The point is, George Hill is the guy that matters.
Based on these predictions, that would give us a record of 22-2 through March 6th. Is that crazy? What do you think? I think 20 wins is definitely possible. I think 22 wins is definitely possible with as many of these games are at home and the quality of the opponent we’ll be playing on the road.
The All-Star break begins for the Jazz after they play Portland at home on February 15th. That gives the team 17 games before the break. That gives Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert 17 games to show the league (because I feel, unfortunately that it is too late for the fans to vote them in — even though G-time just lit up the King) that they belong in the 2017 All-Star game. I mean... this dude is way ahead of both of them in fan voting:
Zaza shows why he deserves to be an All-Star here. Intense. #ZazaPachulia #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/FJlGfGKhIk— Austin Oldham (@AustinOldham33) January 7, 2017
It’s a joke. Fan voting is pretty dumb, in my opinion. But, whatever. If Rudy and Gordon can continue to play at the level they have been playing at all season AND if the team can go on a really nice run over those 17 games, both guys should be playing in New Orleans on February 19th.
I wrote about this possibility at the beginning of the season. You can find that article here. It’s a legitimate possibility. How awesome would that be for the franchise?
Let me know what you guys think about the upcoming schedule and All-Star chances for Gordon and Rudy.