SALT LAKE CITY — Friday marked another milestone toward normalcy for the NBA. Following a pandemic-shortened season, the league announced a full 82-game schedule that begins and ends during the normal windows.
The Utah Jazz, who are coming off a disappointing second-round exit after having the best record in the NBA, will start the regular season Oct. 20 at Vivint Arena against the Oklahoma City Thunder and finish it off Sunday, April 10 in Portland.
Here are some highlights from the Jazz schedule.
How many national TV games will there be?
The Jazz's status among the elite teams of the NBA was validated a bit Friday with the release of the schedule.
Utah, often overlooked for marquee matchups, will be on ESPN, TNT or ABC a total of 14 times. Sure, that's still half the number of times the Los Angeles Lakers will be featured, but it shows the powers over at Turner and ESPN have a brighter view of the Jazz than in seasons past.
The Jazz will be featured on ESPN eight times and TNT four times. The true rarity will come on Feb. 27 when the Jazz will be featured in a Sunday showcase game on ABC against Phoenix.
Full schedule of national TV games:
- Oct. 26 vs. Denver Nuggets, TNT
- Nov. 16 vs. Philadelphia 76ers, TNT
- Dec. 15 vs. LA Clippers, ESPN
- Dec. 25 vs. Dallas Mavericks, ESPN
- Jan. 5 at Denver Nuggets, ESPN
- Jan. 26 vs. Phoenix Suns, ESPN
- Feb. 2 vs. Denver Nuggets, ESPN
- Feb. 9 vs. Golden State Warriors, ESPN
- Feb.16 at LA Lakers, ESPN
- Feb. 27 at Phoenix Suns, ABC
- March 9 vs. Portland Trail Blazers, ESPN
- March 14 vs. Milwaukee Bucks, ESPN
- March 29 at LA Clippers, TNT
- March 31 vs. LA Lakers, TNT
How bad are the road trips?
The Jazz have three road trips of five games or longer, including a six-game, nine-day trip in March that will take them from New York to Los Angeles. That one is pretty brutal with games against the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers — all teams that will be expecting to make the playoffs.
Utah's post New Year's trip going from New Orleans, Denver, Toronto, Indiana and Detroit will also put a lot of miles on the team.
But the Jazz do get some help when it comes to travel. They'll travel to Atlanta, Miami and Orlando for one road trip; that's a long flight out and back, but pretty short skip to get to games. Utah also gets some favorable back to backs on the road with Brooklyn and New York, and Chicago and Milwaukee.
The Jazz will have a road-heavy start to the year with seven of their first 10 games coming on the road.
What's the toughest stretch?
Starting March 14 against Milwaukee, the Jazz will play 14 of its final 15 games against teams that have playoff aspirations. That stretch includes games against the Nets, Lakers, Clippers, Bucks, Warriors and Suns, among others.
How about the easiest?
According to the analytics site Positive Residual, the Jazz actually have the easiest schedule when it comes to travel and rest adjustment standards; two sets of six consecutive home games help with that. The first comes Dec. 15-25 against the Clippers, Spurs, Wizards, Hornets, Timberwolves, and ends with the Christmas matchup against the Mavericks.
The latter takes place Feb. 2-14, and features the Nuggets, Nets, Knicks, Warriors, Magic and Rockets.
- The Jazz will have 13 back-to-back games, one less than the league average.
- The schedule includes just three games against the Lakers and Clippers. Utah will play the Lakers just once in Salt Lake City on March 31.
- Utah will welcome the defending-champion Bucks to Salt Lake on March 14.
- The Jazz are a festive bunch this season. Along with the Christmas matchup against Dallas, the Jazz will also play on Halloween in Milwaukee, on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day at home (against the Wolves and Warriors), on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Lakers, and Valentine's Day in Salt Lake against the Rockets.