Last season (2007-2008) the Utah Jazz won 54 games in the regular season, but only 6 in the post season, for a grand total of 60 wins. The Jazz also won 60 total wins the previous season (2006-2007) -- 51 in the regular season and 9 in the post season. I think that this club is ready to break the 60 total win barrier and do something special this season. The years where the Utah Jazz start off hot as usually the most successful seasons for the Jazz as well. That said, it has to start somewhere, so let's take a look at the first 10 games of the last two seasons: 2006-2007 and 2007-2008.
|1||Houston Rockets||Yes||1-0||@ Golden State Warriors||Yes||1-0||Denver Nuggets||Yes||1-0|
|2||@ Phoenix Suns||Yes||2-0||Houston Rockets||1-1||LA Clippers||Yes||2-0|
|3||Golden State Warriors||Yes||3-0||Golden State Warriors||Yes||2-1||@ LA Clippers||Yes||3-0|
|4||Detroit Pistons||Yes||4-0||@ LA Lakers||2-2||Portland Trailblazers||Yes||4-0|
|5||@ New Jersey Nets||4-1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Yes||3-2||Oklahoma City Thunder||Yes||5-0|
|6||@ Boston Celtics||Yes||5-1||@ Seattle Supersonics||Yes||4-2||@ New York Knicks||?|
|7||@ Milwaukee Bucks||Yes||6-1||Memphis Grizzlies||Yes||5-2||@ Philadelphia 76ers||?|
|8||@ LA Clippers||Yes||7-1||Sacramento Kings||Yes||6-2||@ Washington Wizards||?|
|9||@ Seattle Supersonics||Yes||8-1||@ Toronto Raptors||Yes||7-2||@ Charlotte Bobcats||?|
|10||Phoenix Suns||Yes||9-1||@ Cleveland Cavaliers||7-3||@ Cleveland Cavaliers||?|
The last two seasons the Jazz started above .500 and went on to have pretty successful seasons (winning their Division, getting to (at the very least) the 2nd round of the playoffs). In 06-07 the Jazz beat some really good squads on their way to an amazing 9-1 record. (Phoenix twice, Houston, Detroit, etc) The next season the Jazz lost the games against harder opponents -- like the Lakers, the Rockets, and the Cavs on the road. This season how do you think the Jazz will fare?
The remaining games after tonight's game against Oklahoma (which we won, btw) appear to be 'easier' than having to face 5 Western powers in a row, though they comprise a really tough Eastern stretch where there are:
- two sets of back to back games (Nov. 11th-12th; Nov. 14th-15th)
- three different situations of 3 games in 4 nights (Nov. 9th, 11th & 12th; Nov. 11th, 12th & 14th; Nov. 12th, 14th & 15th)
- 4 games in 5 nights (Nov. 11th, 12th, 14th & 15th)
- and ultimately, 5 games in 7 nights.
That's brutal. If you have any Jazz guys on your fantasy team start them this week as there are 5 games -- but if you are just a Jazz fan, you do not relish the upcoming week.
Just because you are playing against the Eastern teams doesn't mean that they are just going to roll over. We're traditionally not that great on the road, and the schedule works against us here. Let's go over these teams and the games the Jazz will play against them in:
|November 9th, 2008||@ New York Knicks|
New York (3-2) is a run an gun team that's nothing like the Eddie Curry / Zach Randolph disaster from last season. (101.6 ppg so far this season) Almost everyone on their team shoots threes -- 7 different guys on their roster has made at least one. Making things worse is the fact that we've been historically bad in Madison Square Garden over the years. This is not going to be as easy as we think to get a win here -- especially when we're going in there without Deron Williams. Nate Robinson has been playing very well this season, so far coming off the bench to average 16 ppg (48.4 fg%, 42.3 3pt%), 4.2 rpg, 4.8 apg and 2.6 spg. Wilson Chandler has a surprisingly effective offensive game as well. There's no guarantee to say we'll win this one.
|November 11th, 2008||@ Philadelphia 76ers|
Philly (2-4) is supposed to be really good, a top team in the East -- at least according to pre-season projections by "experts" . . . so far their offense looks horrible and their team isn't winning. That said, they are long and big inside (Brand, Dalembert, Marreese, etc) and have some youth and athleticism in the likes of Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and this Iguodala guy. Boozer hates playing against guys with longer reaches than he has -- and all three of those big guys have than on Booz. Additionally, stronger slashers with good first steps routinely can burn Brewer and Kirilenko -- and Thaddeus and Andre Iguodala both fit the bill there. By the time they play the Jazz, they would have had a 5 day rest.
|November 12th, 2008||@ Washington Wizards|
Washington (0-4) has been playing without Gilbert Arenas, and is still looking for their first win of the season. Tonight they play the Orlando Magic and could very well be down 0-5 by the time that they play the Jazz -- but that doesn't mean they still can't hurt us . . . they are a good outside shooting team, and the duo of Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison (two mobile and active players on offense) can score with ease. It's about this time of the road trip that fatigue could be setting in as this is the 2nd game in a back to back and the first 'three games in four nights' set of the season for the Jazz. Through some quirks of the scheduling, the Wizards will have three free days before the game against the Jazz, and be rested.
|November 14th, 2008||@ Charlotte Bobcats|
Logic suggests that a game against Charlotte (2-3) would be a relative breather at this stage in the 5 game road trip, but the Bobcats are long and athletic -- and have nothing to lose. They beat the New Orleans Hornets last night, and that should show us how dangerous they can be on any given night, thanks to Coach Larry Brown. They will have played the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets this next week before they face off against the Jazz on Friday. We don't know what's going to happen with Gerald Wallace during that time period, but we know that they are strong defensively inside with Wallace (8.8 rpg, 2.4 spg, 1.0 bpg) and Okafor (11.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg). In addition there's this Jason Richardson (17.6 ppg, 1.2 3ptm/game) guy who is pretty dynamic and used to score on us at will back when he was playing for the Golden State Warriors. So far they are only scoring 90.4 ppg, and if there is one easy game during this road trip, this may very well be it. It's a 3rd game in four nights game, by the way.
|November 15th, 2008||@ Cleveland Cavaliers|
This game against the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-2, who have games against Chicago, Milwaukee and Denver this week before they tip off against the Jazz) is another 'three games in four nights' set; the 2nd night of a back to back set; and the fourth game in five nights. And yes, if you're keeping track, 5th game in 7 nights total. It's a game against the talented, bruising and defensive minded Cleveland Cavaliers. They are really big inside with Zydrunas, Sideshow Bob and Ben Wallace; feature a plethora of smaller guards who don't have any consciences when it comes to attempting threes (Boobie Gibson, Delonte West, Mo Williams, Sasha Pavlovic, etc). Last, but not least, they have LeBron James. Also Boozer hardly ever plays well there. If we win this game, I will give up eating bacon for a month. And I love bacon.
I'd like to think the Jazz could end up with another 9-1 record, but I don't count on it . . . the schedule is the main opponent for the Jazz during this 5 game Eastern Conference road trip, and the main opponent the Jazz are going to face during our first 10 games of the season. I wouldn't be surprised for the Jazz to limp home after this trip with 3 losses. Then again . . . this is all speculative appraisals of the situation based on a world where Deron Williams does not suit up in any of these games. (And it looks like he's not going to suit up at all for a while now, according to the Deseret News.)
The Jazz have 5 more games -- all on this East trip -- how do you think they'll finish? Will the Jazz go 10-0 to start the season? 5-5? 6-4? What do you guys think?
N.B. All Images are photographed for NBAE/Getty Images