It’s hard to imagine but, the Utah jazz are already almost a tenth of the way through the 2013-2014 season. Five of those first seven games were on the road, the other two were against top-tier Western Conference teams in the Rockets and Thunder. The result of each outing was the same – a loss.
Taking a look ahead, the schedule gives Utah a little bit more breathing room this week. The Jazz will host Denver, New Orleans and San Antonio before playing at Golden State on Saturday. The Jazz will need to capitalize on being at home and figure out a way to get some wins.
Here’s a quick glance at each of the match-ups.
The Nuggets (1-4) are struggling early in the post George Karl era. Just the idea that he led Denver through the Carmelo Anthony ordeal and produced a better team without him speaks to Karl’s coaching ability. He led the squad to 57 wins last season, is the reigning coach of the year and yet doesn’t have a job in the NBA.
While Karl may be missed on the bench, the Nuggets are surely missing Andre Iguodala on the court. The small forward took 13 points, five rebounds and five assists per night with him to the Warriors. Denver didn’t start the season at full strength and just this weekend announced that JaVale McGee is out indefinitely with a tibia stress fracture.
With McGee out Denver will lack depth inside and the Jazz should be able to capitalize on that with the young corps in Utah. For guard play the Jazz will run into familiar faces with Andre Miller and Randy Foye being led by Ty Lawson.
Lawson has the quickness to give Utah’s point guards trouble, but he shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Lawson is shooting 43.5 percent from the field and has attempted only 5 three-pointers. The Jazz won’t have any guaranteed wins on the schedule this season, but Nuggets at home seems like a great time for Utah to get it’s first W.
New Orleans (3-4) flies into town on Wednesday with a new nickname, the Pelicans, and a new leader, Anthony Davis. Davis was with the team last year, but in his sophomore season he’s already proving why he was worth the number one pick in 2012’s draft.
The big man is averaging 21.7 points and 11.6 rebounds and makes almost 87 percent of his free throws. He does it efficiently too collecting more steals than turnovers and icing the cake with 3.9 blocks per game, the second most in the league. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson are used to describe your stat line, it’s safe to say Davis is off to a historic start.
There’s no promise of it being a fun night for Favors, but it will be chance for him to prove himself against a worthy adversary. The Pelicans will also bring Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon to town, young and talented guards. It looks like the Pelicans have done their best to transform back into
a playoff team for the first time since losing Chris Paul, they may fall short but are striding in the right direction and will bring a tough game to EnergySolutions Arena.
Next on the docket will be the 6-1 San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. There’s not a ton of new things to say about this team, but that’s always the case with the Spurs. San Antonio should replace their mascot with Old Faithful as they are the same group of guys and they always get the job done.
Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili might be playing less minutes these days, that just means guys like Tiago Splitter, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard get a chance to prove themselves. The Spurs are the best coached team in the league and you know they won’t beat themselves so if the Jazz get behind early, it could turn into a long night for Utah.
To wrap-up the week, the Jazz will visit the Warriors on Saturday night. Golden State (4-3) jumped on the rest of the league’s radar last year with playoff success in large part because of excellent shooting. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry were lights out, and started this year the same way.
The duo shoots better than 45 percent from three-point range and averages 39.6 points a game. With Trey Burke still rehabbing a fractured finger, the Jazz will have hard time hanging with the Warriors outside. The key to success for Utah will be Gordon Hayward’s ability to slow down Iguodala and Favors working with Enes Kanter to dominate inside.
While the Jazz are instituting a youth movement, road wins will be few and far between. It’s tough to get road wins in the NBA, and doing that with inexperienced players is even tougher.
The Jazz three game home stand starting tonight against the Nuggets might provide the spark Utah needs to get their first win and could just start a winning streak.