Get your calendars ready.
The NBA released its season schedule for the 2018-19 season on Friday afternoon. Yes, once again, the Jazz will play 82 games in all: 41 home, 41 away. But anyone who paid attention to last year’s season knows what an impact a schedule can have on a team: Last year, the Jazz went just 5-10 in December as part of a grueling beginning to the season before righting the ship (and much more) in a 29-5 run to end the campaign.
The 2018-19 early schedule will again be tough: 16 of the first 24 games for the Jazz will be on the road from October through Dec. 2. The longest road trip of the season — five games — comes in November, including visits to Philadelphia and Boston.
Then, the Jazz return home to face a difficult gauntlet of opponents, including San Antonio, Houston, Golden State, Oklahoma City, Portland, and Philadelphia in December. It’s not quite as difficult as last year’s December schedule, which featured a monster six-game trip, but it’s close.
However, the end of the season is pretty favorable to Utah. The Jazz have four separate four-game home stands in January, February, and March. And 14 of the Jazz’s last 16 opponents didn’t make the playoffs last season, though you’d figure Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers will improve after their successful summers.
And while the Jazz play most Western Conference opponents four times, they only have to face the Golden State Warriors, the New Orleans Pelicans, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Los Angeles Clippers three times. That will be somewhat of a relief. As a result, the Jazz have the third-easiest schedule in the Western Conference just behind Golden State and Oklahoma City.
The Jazz’s number of back-to-backs has also been reduced to 14 this season after facing 16 pairs last year.
They’re also a larger focus of the NBA’s national TV schedule. The Jazz will play 17 nationally televised games: eight on ESPN, three on TNT, and six on NBATV. That number could change throughout the season, as the NBA is allowing the networks to flexibly schedule games more frequently this season.
Among the marquee games:
• Gordon Hayward, along with the rest of the Boston Celtics, will return to Vivint Arena on Nov. 9 in a nationally televised contest. It won’t be long until the Jazz see him again, either: they travel to Boston on Nov. 17 as part of a four-game road trip the next week.
• The Jazz will play the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Christmas Day and on the road on Martin Luther King Day.
• LeBron James and the Lakers will make their first visit to Vivint Arena on Jan. 11, and return on March 27.
The Jazz do fly more miles than the average NBA team. Overall, they’ll travel just over 47,000 miles over the course of the season, good for ninth in the NBA.
And from a rest point of view, the schedule is pretty balanced: the Jazz will have a rest advantage over their opponents 22 times, while having a rest disadvantage in 21 games.
Overall, the schedule sets up well for the Jazz for what has been a familiar pattern during the Quin Snyder era: tread water early, then explode through the end of the season with momentum for the playoffs.
Here’s the full schedule (click to expand image):