SALT LAKE CITY — So, maybe the NBA schedule makers don’t have it out for the Jazz, after all.
After the last two seasons, you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
In 2017-18, the Jazz’s December and January schedules had them playing 17 of 28 games on the road — leading to a less-than-stellar record. Last season, the Jazz’s start was brutal, with 21 of the team’s first 33 games happening on the road — including a span of 14 games in 13 different cities (including Salt Lake).
This year? Things feel a bit more balanced.
Here's a breakdown of the schedule.
Is the first part hard?
The Lakers, Clippers (twice), 76ers, Bucks and Warriors help make up Utah’s first 10 games. That’s not an easy start, but at least it won’t be super road heavy.
The Jazz’s October slate will feature three at home — including the season-opener on Oct. 23 against the Thunder — and two on the road.
The Jazz will have eight of their 14 games on the road in November, but after last year’s stretch that’ll seem pleasant.
What month has the hardest schedule?
When it comes to the teams Utah will face, the easy answer is February. Utah will have two games against Portland, two against Houston, and matchups with Denver, San Antonio and Boston.
The good news? Most of those will be at home. The Jazz will play eight of their 11 games in February at Vivint Arena.
When are the Jazz on the road the most?
Utah technically has three three-game road trips in January. The month starts with a trip to Chicago, Orlando and New Orleans. From Jan. 12-16, they’ll be in Washington, Brooklyn and New Orleans — again. Utah ends the month with a trip to San Antonio, Denver and Portland (the Blazers game will be on Feb. 1).
The Jazz will lead the league in total miles traveled throughout the season, but that has more to do with their location and the lack of long road trips.
What's the toughest stretch?
Jan. 22-Feb. 10
In a 10-game span, the Jazz will play eight games against a likely Western Conference playoff team and play two sets of back-to-backs.
The stretch starts with a road game at Golden State before two home games against Dallas and Houston. The Jazz will go back on the road for back-to-back games against San Antonio and Denver before traveling to Portland for a game against the Blazers. Utah will then return home for national TV games against Denver and Portland before finishing off the stretch with back-to-back road games against Houston and Dallas.
That’s two games against Houston, two games against Portland, two against Denver and with San Antonio and Golden State. Oh, and Dallas, the one team that wasn’t a playoff team last year, has the reigning rookie of the year and a likely healthy Kristaps Porzingis.
Utah's final stretch is nothing to sneeze at either. The Jazz's final six games feature five teams that made the playoffs last season.
What about the easiest stretches?
Feb. 24 - March 4
A home game against Gordon Hayward and the Celtics on Feb. 26 is surrounded by games against the Suns, Wizards, Cavaliers and Knicks. The Jazz will likely be favored in all five of them, and heavy favorites in four of those.
March 28 - April 1
The Jazz will play home games against the Hawks, Bulls, and Cavs.
Those two stretches will be key because they will be surrounded by lots of games against playoff teams.
What’s the longest road trip?
Nov. 25-Dec. 2 (five games)
The Jazz face Milwaukee, Indiana and Memphis before ending the trip with a back-to-back against Toronto and Philadelphia. It’s a trip that features the defending MVP, the defending champs, and the likely favorites in the East in the 76ers — throw in two potentially emotional games for Mike Conley (his second return to Memphis) and Bojan Bogdanovic (his first game back to Indiana), and it could be a pretty difficult trip.
When’s the longest homestand?
Feb. 12- Feb. 28 (six games)
On Feb. 10, the Jazz will play the Mavericks on the road. That’ll be Utah’s last road game of the month. The Jazz's final game before the All-Star break will be at home against Miami on Feb. 12. After the break, they’ll have five more at home against the Spurs, Rockets, Suns, Celtics and Wizards.
What about those infamous back-to-backs?
The Jazz will play 11 sets of back-to-back games this year, with five coming in the last eight weeks of the season — including two sets in April alone.