D. Clarke Evans NBAE/Getty Images
2014-15 Jazz Schedule Breakdown
By: David Locke – Utah Jazz
It’s not quite a sports fan’s Christmas, but Schedule Day is still one of my favorite days of the year. It tells us that the season is close—opening day is only 76 days away. LeBron and the Cavs are just 83 days away. Now that the 2014-15 NBA schedule has been officially released, let’s digest what the Jazz—and Jazz fans—have in front of them.
I realize that November is the peak of football season, but if you blink you’re going to miss the All-Star Parade in the Jazz’s November schedule. From opening night through the end of November, the Jazz will face off against teams led by Dwight Howard and James Harden, Goran Dragic, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (and Kevin Love too), Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin—all at EnergySolutions Arena.
Can we sell the November All-Star Pack? 8 games, 14 All-Stars. What an insane start.
POINT GUARDS ARE YOU READY?
It’s not clear who our point guard will be this year—or if we’ll even define the point guard. Whoever it is, though, better be on top of his game in late January and February. In consecutive games, the Jazz play against: Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Mike Conley and Goran Dragic.
That’s seven straight games against All-Star point guards between January 24 and February 6.
CLUSTERS OF CONFIDENCE
This young Jazz team is going to be a momenteum-driven team. If the players start to believe in themselves, they’ll grab some unanticipated wins.
The schedule gives the Jazz a few chances to gain clusters of confidence. Opening in December, the Jazz have a three-game homestand against Denver, Toronto and Orlando. Throw in a quick road trip to Sacramento and the Jazz may have won three of four.
The Jazz will be very tired when this next stretch arrives, having just finished the six-game pre-Christmas trip. After Santa arrives, the Jazz play Philadelphia at home, then have a tough road game versus the Clippers before playing Minnesota and Atlanta at home. Then they’ll go back on the road to face Minnesota before returning to host Indiana. Four or five of those six games could go to the Jazz.
The beginning of March could also give the Jazz a chance to show some growth. They wrap up a four-game road trip with Boston, Philadelphia and Brooklyn before a five-game homestand against New York, Houston, Detroit, Charlotte and Washington, plus a road game versus the Lakers.
CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE
Not everything will be rosy for this young team, which could also have a hard time getting out of tough stretches. The schedule has a few very difficult stretches.
How about the start? The Jazz open the season with six straight games against likely playoff teams (Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, LA Clippers, Cleveland and Dallas again) and will then hit the road for a five-game trip trip without a lot of success in their back pockets.
Unfortuantely, it doesn’t end there. The Jazz return home from the to face Oklahoma City, then visit Golden State before home games against New Orleans, Chicago and the Clippers—with a road trip to Oklahoma City thrown in for good measure.
Utah’s opening 17 games are against 12 playoff teams, plus LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
January provides another stretch of tough games. The Jazz will take a three-game road trip to Chicago, Oklahoma City and Houston, and will then come home to play the Warriors. Thank goodness for the Lakers on the schedule. This stretch is capped off by two road games against teams that could be favored to reach the NBA Finals: San Antonio and Cleveland. In all, six of seven games will be against upper-tier playoff teams.
NOT ALL BACK-TO-BACKS ARE CREATED EQUAL
The players may disagree with this, but not all back-to-backs are the same. A back-to-back is not necessarily that brutal. Playing four games in five nights is tough, and home then road back-to-backs (with the team traveling back home the after the road game) are far tougher on the body than road then home back-to-backs.
The Jazz have 19 back-to-backs. Four of those 19 are parts of four-games-in-five-nights sets. The Jazz play four games in five nights on the pre-Christmas road trip—at New Orleans and at Miami, then a day off followed by games at Orlando and at Charlotte as the middle of a six-game trip. The other four-games-in-five-nights stretch comes in February, when Jazz play at Portland, home versus Memphis, travel to Phoenix on the off day, then play Phoenix and return home to play Sacramento the next night.
The Jazz have three “brutal back-to-backs” (read as back to back 3 a.m. sleeps). One is right out of the gates. The Jazz open with Houston, and the next night they play in Dallas and will fly home after the game. Welcome to the NBA, Danté Exum. How do you like 4 a.m. bedtime in Dallas?
On January 2 the Jazz face their old friends Atlanta at home, then will play the next night in Minnesota and return home after the game. Finally, in April, the Jazz host Memphis, then will play in Portland the next night and fly home after the game.