For the Utah Jazz, the path back to the playoffs begins on Oct. 18.
That’s when they will begin the 2017-18 NBA season against the Denver Nuggets at the newly remodeled Vivint Smart Home Arena, the NBA announced on Monday afternoon.
Once the season begins, there won’t be much respite for the Jazz, who have refused to lower their expectations in a loaded Western Conference despite losing an All-Star from last year’s team, which finished the regular season 51-31 and reached the second round of the playoffs. Behind all-NBA center Rudy Gobert and a roster with a few new faces, they’ll be aiming for their first consecutive playoff appearances since 2010.
The season will at least begin with a home-friendly stretch, with Utah getting 10 of its first 14 games at Vivint, which will be freshly renovated with cushioned seats, additional luxury suites and other new amenities.
Things start getting tougher in December and January, during which Utah has 17 of 28 games on the road. That will include trips to expected contenders Boston, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and Golden State.
The West, which already features defending champ Golden State — which rolled to a 16-1 record in last season’s playoffs — is expected to be even tougher. Two of the league’s biggest offseason trades landed superstars in Utah’s own Northwest division: forward Paul George joined with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, while the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired star wing Jimmy Butler. Former Jazzman Paul Millsap also signed in Denver during the offseason, potentially helping the Nuggets contend for a playoff spot as well.
The Jazz will look for success without the services of Gordon Hayward, who was their leading scorer (21.9 ppg) last year. Utah matches up against Hayward and his new team, the Boston Celtics, twice next season. The first will come on Dec. 15 in Boston, but Utah fans will have to wait significantly longer for Hayward’s return, which will be on March 28 in an ESPN-televised game.
Down the stretch, five of Utah’s final eight games will be at home — a potential help if Utah is caught in a tight playoff race. The Jazz home finale will come against Golden State on April 10 before wrapping up the season on April 11 at the Portland Trailblazers.
This season’s schedule starts a week earlier than previous years in order to eliminate stacked schedule issues, such as playing four games in five nights. Utah will play 16 back-to-backs this season.
While the NBA has yet to release more detailed broadcast information, the Jazz will not have any nationally televised games during the opening week of the season or during the week of Christmas this year. Utah currently has 11 games scheduled to air on ESPN, TNT or NBA TV.
While the Jazz didn’t make the splashy free-agent re-signing they hoped with Hayward, the organization made several other key moves: trading for Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio; extending restricted free agent Joe Ingles; adding depth, particularly on defense, by signing free agents Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh.
The Jazz begin the preseason on Oct. 2 against the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League, followed by exhibitions with Israel’s Maccabi Haifa, the Phoenix Suns and the L.A. Lakers.
2017-18 Utah Jazz schedule
All times Mountain
October • 18th (Wed.) Denver, 7 p.m.; 20th (Fri.) at Minnesota, 6 p.m.;21st (Sat.) Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.; 24th (Tue.) at L.A. Clippers, 8:30p.m.; 25th (Wed.) at Phoenix, 8 p.m.; 28th (Sat.) L.A. Lakers, 7 p.m.; 30th (Mon.) Dallas, 7 p.m.
November • 1st (Wed.) Portland 7 p.m.; 3rd (Fri.) Toronto, 7 p.m.; 5th(Sun.) at Houston, 5 p.m.; 7th (Tue.) Philadelphia, 7 p.m.; 10th (Fri.)Miami, 7 p.m.; 11th (Sat.) Brooklyn, 7 p.m.; 13th (Mon.) Minnesota, 7p.m.; 15th (Wed.) at New York, 5:30 p.m.; 17th (Fri.) at Brooklyn, 5:30p.m.; 18th (Sat.) at Orlando 5 p.m.; 20th (Mon.) at Philadelphia, 5p.m.; 22nd (Wed.) Chicago, 7 p.m.; 25th (Sat.) Milwaukee, 7 p.m.; 28th(Tue.) Denver, 8 p.m. ESPN; 30th (Thu.) at L.A. Clippers, 8:30 p.m.
December • 1st (Fri.) New Orleans, 7 p.m.; 4th (Mon.) Washington, 7p.m.; 5th (Tue.) at Oklahoma City, 6 p.m.; 7th (Thu.) Houston, 8:30 p.m.TNT; 9th (Sat.) at Milwaukee, 6:30 p.m. NBA TV; 13th (Wed.) at Chicago,6 p.m.; 15th (Fri.) at Boston, 5:30 p.m.; 16th (Sat.) at Cleveland,5:30 p.m.; 18th (Mon.) at Houston, 6 p.m.; 20th (Wed.) at Oklahoma City 6p.m.; 21st (Thu.) San Antonio, 8:30 p.m. TNT; 23rd, (Sat.) Oklahoma City, 6 p.m.; 26th (Tue.) at Denver 7 p.m.; 27th (Wed.) at Golden State,8:30 p.m. NBA TV; 30th (Sat.) Cleveland, 6 p.m.
January • 3rd (Wed.) New Orleans, 7 p.m.; 5th (Fri.) at Denver, 7 p.m.;7th (Sun.) at Miami, 1:30 p.m.; 10th (Wed.) at Washington, 5 p.m.; 12th( Fri.) at Charlotte, 5 p.m.; 15th (Mon.) Indiana 7 p.m.; 17th (Wed.) at Sacramento 8 p.m.; 19th (Fri.) New York, 8:30 p.m. ESPN; 20th (Sat.)L.A. Clippers, 7 p.m.; 22nd (Mon.) at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m.; 24th (Wed.) at Detroit, 5 p.m.; 26th (Fri.) at Toronto, 5:30 p.m.; 30th (Tue.) Golden State, 7 p.m.
February • 2nd (Fri.) at Phoenix, 7 p.m.; 3rd (Sat.) at San Antonio, 7p.m.; 5th (Mon.) at New Orleans 6 p.m. NBA TV; 7th (Wed.) at Memphis, 6p.m.; 9th (Fri.) Charlotte, 7 p.m.; 11th (Sun.) at Portland 7 p.m.; 12th(Mon.) San Antonio, 7 p.m.; 14th (Wed.) Phoenix, 7 p.m.; (ALL-STAR BREAK); 23rd (Fri.) Portland 7 p.m.; 24th (Sat.) Dallas, 7 p.m.; 26th(Mon.) Houston 7 p.m.
March • 2nd (Fri.) Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. ESPN; 3rd (Sat.) at Sacramento, 8p.m.; 5th (Mon.) Orlando, 7 p.m.; 7th (Wed.) at Indiana, 5 p.m.; 9th(Fri.) at Memphis, 6 p.m.; 11th (Sun.) at New Orleans, 2 p.m.; 13th(Tue.) Detroit 7 p.m.; 15th (Thu.) Phoenix, 7 p.m.; 17th (Sat.)Sacramento, 7 p.m.; 20th (Tue.) Atlanta 7 p.m.; 22nd (Thu.) at Dallas,6:30 p.m.; 23rd (Fri.) at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m.; 25th (Sun.) at Golden State, 6:30 p.m. NBA TV; 28th (Wed.) Boston, 7:30 p.m. ESPN; 30th (Fri.)Memphis, 7 p.m.
April • 1st (Sun.) at Minnesota, 5 p.m.; 3rd (Tue.) L.A. Lakers, 7 p.m.; 5th (Thu.) L.A. Clippers, 7 p.m.; 8th (Sun.) at L.A. Lakers, 4 p.m.; 10th (Tue.) Golden State, 7 p.m.; 11th (Wed.) at Portland 8:30 p.m. ESPN