This is one of the toughest schedules I have seen. The youngsters are going to be tested early and often. The back to backs are brutal. The travel at times is horrendous and there are numerous serious tests on the schedule.
Start at the beginning. The Jazz open with OKC before playing their first road game against a poor Phoenix team and Jeff Hornacek. However, the Jazz play Friday the 1st in Phoenix and the next night at home v. Houston before flying East for a 4 games in 5 night stretch that includes Brooklyn and Chicago.
After that dip into the fire the Jazz schedule evens out for the Jazz. However, the next stretch is one of the toughest I have seen.
The Jazz play the 11th of December in Sacramento then go to Denver for one game before returning home for a back to back with San Antonio before leaving the next day to go East for 9 days. Jazz will have one night at home from Jan Dec 10th to Dec 24th and it will be a game day. Players and staff will not have dinner at home from Dec 8th to Christmas Eve.
January is pleasant with only two back to backs and 8 of the 13 games at home.
February is equally as soft as January in regards to home and road, 7 home games and 5 road but the back to backs are brutal. In Dallas with a game the next night at home v. Miami, In LA with a home game the next day v Philadelphia all in a span of 6 days. Add on an at Portland with Minnesota home the next day.
When February closes the Jazz get hit with a scheduling 2 by 4. They go on a 6 game 9 day road trip that spans Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee, Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
Then comes “the have these guys grown” stretch. The Jazz play the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies in a 4 games stretch from the 14th of March to the 19th of March. That will tell us if they have improved at all because all of those teams will be battling for home court in the West.
I have said this season will be interesting to watch how the young players deal with adversity. The three biggest tests will be
1 – Opening 4 games in 5 nights road trip that includes going through customs on the final night.
2 – Late Jan and Feb has home games to be won can they gain momentum - Minnesota, Washington, Sacramento, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and Phoenix.
3 – The aforementioned murder’s row in March. First is the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies combination and then it is followed by Memphis, New Orleans, OKC, New York and Portland.
- What a start- OKC on opening night and then Houston with Dwight Howard making his first appearance on Saturday night. Hello season. The two favorites to win the West in the opening two games of the season. Heck, the entire opening month of November is a rundown of the best in the West, Denver, New Orleans, San Antonio and Golden State make up the next 4 games and with the off-season moves they all made that could be 6 playoff teams in the opening 6 home games. It doesn’t slow down after that, Derrick Rose makes his first appearance in over a year in SLC and the final home game of November is Jeff Hornacek’s return. Is it possible every game in November is a must see?
- Will Jazz fans see Kobe Bryant coming back from his Achilles? The first trip from the Lakers is Dec 27th and the 2nd game is April 14th the final home game of the year. Seems fair to anticipate that Kobe could be ready for both of those games.
- Lots of reunions, Jeff Hornacek returns as a head coach on November 29th, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver make their only visit on March 10th, Al Jefferson and Charlotte stop by on Dec 30th, Deron Williams plays the first game after the all-star break in SLC on Feb 19th and Carlos Boozer and Chicago comes into town on November 25th .
LOCKE TICKET PACKAGES
One game a month that is all I have time for
OKC in the opener in October, Derrick Rose is back on the floor when Chicago comes on November 25th, December 14th the Spurs are in town and it is worth seeing in person, if you haven’t seen Ricky Rubio then my January choice is Minnesota on Jan 21st. February is easy, the Heat are in town the 8th of Feb, in March as terrific as Chris Paul is to see in person the Hawks have every Jazz fans favorite players so see Millsap, DeMarre and Kyle on March 10th and in April the Blazers and Damian Lillard are in town on the 11th.
5 games I have to see package
OKC in the opener again, the first night with the jumbotron and Kevin Durant
Nov 18th v. Golden State – the addition of Iguodala and watching Steph Curry in person is awesome
Feb 8th – LeBron and the World Champion Heat – what else needs to be said
March 14th – Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clippers
April 14th – Lakers and Kobe – How many more times can we see Kobe and I don’t care what state the Lakers are in beating the Lakers is always awesome
- The first three road games the Jazz play are all against NBA rookie head coaches, Phoenix, Brooklyn and Boston.
- Of the Jazz 4 road games in LA (2 Clippers and 2 Lakers) all of them are a part of a back to back, with 3 of them have the road game on the back end of the back to back and one where Jazz play the Lakers and the next night are home against Philadelphia.
- Jazz have lots of games against the same opponent without much time in between. They play Phoenix and Minnesota in back to backs. They play the Kings twice in 5 days. They play the Lakers, Pelicans and Grizzlies twice in a week, and Golden State twice in 9 days. I will keep a close eye on how are guys do in these games where teams scouting will be extra sharp. Will be interesting to see how our players adjust.