The Five Best Games On The Utah Jazz Schedule
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz released the first half of the 2020-21 season schedule last week. The NBA is releasing the full 72 games schedule in two parts to account for games that will have to be rescheduled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBA regular season begins December 22 and runs through May 16. The play-in tournament between the 7-10th seeds in each conference will be held on May 18-21, with the Finals wrapping up in mid-July.
With the first-half schedule made public, let’s look at the five best games on the Jazz horizon.
Five Best Games Jazz Games
Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers: December 22
The season opener for the Jazz will send them on the road to face the Portland Trail Blazers. The Jazz won two out of the three meetings between the teams last year but struggled mightily to slow All-Star guard Damian Lillard.
The former Weber State star averaged 42.3 points, 8.7 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in the teams’ three meetings, including a 51 point outing in February.
The Jazz were eliminated from the 2020 playoffs due to their inability to slow high-scoring guard Jamal Murray, and a matchup against Lillard will serve as an early indicator of whether the Jazz have solved their defensive woes on the perimeter.
Portland brings a revamped roster into the season opener, having acquired do-it-all forward Robert Covington from the Houston Rockets, and former Jazzman Enes Kanter from the Boston Celtics.
The Blazers are sure to compete for a playoff spot in the West and will be a good test for the Jazz early in the season.
Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns: December 31
No team was more aggressive during the shortened offseason than the Phoenix Suns who traded for All-Star guard Chris Paul in mid-November, then signed former Jazzman Jae Crowder to a three-year, nearly $30 million contract.
After going undefeated in the NBA bubble and narrowly missing the postseason, the Suns saw their opportunity for a playoff push and made a significant financial investment to get there.
Now, they must prove it was worth it. Paul has two years and roughly $85 million left on his contract and has seemed to outplay expectations on less talented rosters while his more talented teams have underperformed.
Can the feisty spirit of his Oklahoma City Thunder team follow Paul to Phoenix, or will the Suns’ inconsistent play from last season plague them once again?
The Jazz should be plenty familiar with the revamped Suns as they prepare for their New Year’s Eve matchup. The two teams will face one another twice during the NBA preseason beginning later this week.
Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers: January 1
The Jazz will quickly follow their New Year’s Eve battle with the Suns with a matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers were one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA bubble after blowing a three to one series lead against the Denver Nuggets with an opportunity to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
After losing big men Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green to Western Conference foes, the Clippers added Serge Ibaka who is coming off a career-year in Toronto.
But the real question hanging over the roster is whether new coach Tyronn Lue can fix the poor locker room culture that permeated in Los Angeles last season.
The Jazz won two of their three meetings against the Clippers last season, including perhaps their most impressive victory of the season on the road shortly after acquiring sixth-man Jordan Clarkson.
Are the Clippers going to be better in year two, or is the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George marriage destined to fail?
Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets: January 17
After an impressive run to the Western Conference Finals that included come from behind wins over the Jazz and Clippers, the Denver Nuggets had one of the worst offseasons in the NBA.
Denver lost big man Jerami Grant whose versatility was a key cog to the Nuggets postseason success, while back up center Mason Plumlee followed Grant to the Detroit Pistons.
Now, Denver will be relying on Michael Porter Jr. to take a major step in his second season, while hoping guard Will Barton works his way back into the fold after missing the Nuggets playoff run with an injury.
Denver has finished with a top-three record in the West each of the last three seasons and should be contenders for home-court advantage once against this season.
Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers: February 24
No team in the NBA gave the Jazz more trouble last season than the Los Angeles Lakers. The Jazz lost all three meetings against the eventual champs, including a 25 point drubbing in Salt Lake City on December 4.
The loss was so convincing that vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey listed it as one of the reasons the Jazz felt they needed to get bigger this offseason with the return of fan-favorite Derrick Favors.
The Lakers lost size over the offseason with the departures of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, though veteran Marc Gasol should help cover those gaps.
The additions of Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews, and Montrezl Harrell gives the Lakers added firepower, and the Lebron James led roster should enter the season as favorites to repeat as champions.
The Jazz face the Lakers only once during the first half of the schedule and should have a better sense of where they fall on the contender ladder after the February matchup.