Friday, August 8, 2008

Utah Jazz 2008-2009 Schedule Analysis

No doubt you know the NBA released the 2008-2009 NBA Regular Season Schedule. (well, they may have released some other things too, but that's still all pretty hush-hush) I haven't had some time to look at the schedules for the other teams yet, but I will in time. But let's take a look at how things will shape up month-by-month.

Month-by-month at a glance:

Month # Games Home Away vs. West vs. East vs. Playoff Teams vs. West Playoff Teams
Oct/Nov 18 10 8 10 8 6 3
Dec 15 6 9 6 9 8 3
Jan 15 8 7 12 3 8 6
Feb 11 8 3 8 3 5 3
Mar 15 6 9 8 7 9 5
Apr 8 3 5 8 0 5 5

October/November: There's only 1 game in October, so I included it here for the rest of November. April looks tough, as usual.

Home vs. Road:

The Jazz have 5 road trips this season that of at least 3 games. (Three road trips are of 5 games in length!) The first trip is In November and features New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Charlotte and Cleveland. This trip is a single, then a pair of back-to-backs, and last three games are the 3rd game in four nights. The last game of the trip (vs. Cleveland) will also be the 4th game in five nights for us. New York is a must win as they are the worst team of that bunch, and we need a win in MSG badly. Philly/Washington is a pretty hard back-to-back as Philly has improved vastly this off-season and Washington is always tough with Agent Zero, Caron Butler, Antwan Jamison and crew. The Bobcats game should be better (but they have some good players), and I can fully expect another loss in Cleveland. The more I look at it, the more brutal this road trip looks. I wouldn't be surprised if we got 1-4 on it.

In December there's another Eastern trip that's Boston, New Jersey, Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee. Only the Detroit/Chicago games are a back-to-back this time around. (The game vs. the Bulls will also be the 3rd game in four nights) We won in Boston last season, but there's no guarantee that we'll do it again. The Nets seem to have our number and the Jazz need to establish that they can beat these Eastern Conference Non-Playoff teams on the road. With my luck I'll be super busy the night of the Detroit game and end up missing it again. Chicago should be playing better at this point in the season again. The Jazz finish their 2nd 5 game road trip in as many months with a game against Milwaukee. This trip is easier than the first one, it's only against two playoff teams, and not three like the last trip. Also, there's only one back-to-back, and only one game is a 3rd game in four nights deal.

January holds at quick three game road trip against Oklahoma City, Memphis and Dallas. The Memphis/Dallas set is a back-to-back, and the Dallas game is the 3rd game in four nights.

In March the Jazz play their last 5 game road trip, against the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and finishing with the Orlando Magic. Three of these five teams are playoff teams and this road trip is a single followed by a pair of back-to-backs. Toronto should be a win, as should Indiana;, Atlanta, Miami and Orlando all have the capabilities to beat the Jazz when the Jazz are on the road.

The last road trip of the season is a three game set in April that pits the Jazz against New Orleans, Dallas and finishes in San Antonio. April (like in the 2007-2008 season) is a brutal schedule and at the very least, all of these games are spaced by a day each. The San Antonio game is the first game in a back-to-back with the Jazz playing Golden State in the second game. This is one of the few back-to-backs where the second game is at home. (17 times out of the total 21 back-to-backs have the Jazz playing the 2nd game of the back-to-back on the road)

On the flip side, the Jazz only have three home stands longer than 2 games the entire season. (Trying to make it easier to play in SLC?) There's a home stand at the end of November that's 4 games long. Another in January that's 4 games long, and the last home stand this season is a 5 game stand in February (that also includes time away from SLC for the All-Star break).

The first is a sequence at home facing the Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, the Sacramento Kings and finishing with the New Jersey Nets. The last two games comprise a back-to-back, with the last game (New Jersey) being a 3rd game in four nights.

The second home stand (January) involves the Jazz facing off against the Golden State Warriors, the New Orleans Hornets, the Detroit Pistons and finishing against the Indiana Pacers. This will be (probably) one of the best sequences for the Jazz as none of the games are back-to-backs. All of these teams are teams the Jazz should beat when playing in Utah.

The last home stand bookends the All-Star break in February. The last game for the Jazz before the break is against the Los Angeles Lakers. After the break the next four teams are the Memphis Grizzlies, the Boston Celtics, New Orleans Hornets and Atlanta Hawks. This is the longest home stand of the season, and it also features 4 games against playoff teams in five nights.

Overall the three long Eastern trips make the home/road disparity seem worse than it is, I wouldn't have minded a more home friendly last month though. (The Jazz only play 3 home games in all of April, but I guess it all evens out as the Jazz only play 3 times on the road in February)

Schedule Conflict:

Situation: Total # of games # of games played on the Road # of games played vs. 2007-2008 Playoff teams # of games played both on the road, and vs. 2007-2008 Playoff teams
2nd night of a back-to-back 21 17 11 11
3rd game in four nights 24 12 14 8
4th game in five nights 4 3 3 3

Yeah, 81% of the time the Jazz play the 2nd night of a back-to-back, the game is on the road, 53% either against a playoff team -- and each of those times on the road. Half the games played on the 3rd night in four nights is on the road, and more than half the time, that game is against a playoff team from last season. Lastly, 75% of the time the Jazz play a 4th game in five nights the game will either be: on the road, vs. a playoff team, or both. You know what that is?

Schedule conflict.

Scruffy says: "Schedule Conflict."

It's not all bad:

Because the league insists on playing 82 games (split between 30 teams), not every team plays each of their conference opponents 4 times. This season the Jazz only play three games vs. the Lakers, Spurs, Hornets and Clippers. Sure, it would have been nice to switch out the Clippers game with a game again, say, Sacramento or Portland (two teams that both owned us last season) -- but two of the three games against the Clippers are at home, in Utah.

Contrastingly, two of the three games against the Lakers and Spurs will be on the road. This seems like it hands to series to both of these teams as the Jazz are more likely to win at home, and the games that were taken away (from the 4 game series) appear to be Jazz home games. The optimist in me looks at it like an opportunity to play one less game against a really good team -- and thus avoid a potential loss.

Lastly, the NBA is protecting Chris Paul by having him only face Deron Williams 3 times this season. Thankfully two out of the three games are at home. (The last game of the series is in New Orleans though, and will be a very interesting Game 77 for all to watch)

Oh yeah, I forgot, the Jazz have come out of nowhere to be on ESPN and TNT a grand total of 11 times (or some other ridiculously large number), which is the most I've ever seen in my life as a Jazz fan. (the last 19 of my years)