Utah residents will be able to get their Jazz fix in Salt Lake City on one extra day of the week this season.
That’s because for the first time since 2001, the Jazz will host regular-season home games on Sundays.
For the past two decades, Jazz officials have asked the league to schedule Sunday play elsewhere. The effort started with former Jazz owner Larry Miller, who cited Utah’s religious makeup as a reason for the league not to schedule games on the Christian faiths’ Sabbath day. He famously skipped the Sunday home games that were scheduled a handful of times during his teams’ runs in the playoffs.
In February, when the NBA’s All-Star Game took place on a Sunday at the Delta Center, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman Doug Andersen told The Associated Press that the Church was appreciative of the Jazz’s efforts. “The Utah Jazz continue to be a great community partner, and the Church appreciates the longstanding effort of their leadership team, when possible, to avoid playing NBA games at home on Sundays,” he said. “We are grateful for their sensitivities to Sabbath observance.”
But this year, with schedule pressures higher than ever thanks to a week-delayed start and the new In-Season Tournament, the NBA mandated that teams submit at least four open Sunday home slots to the league. The Jazz did so, and ended up with three home games on Nov. 19 against Phoenix, Feb. 4 against Milwaukee, and Feb. 25 against San Antonio. Those games will start at 6 p.m. MT.
The Jazz’s last Sunday home game was Jan. 21, 2001 against the Phoenix Suns. In a 109-98 win, Karl Malone led the Jazz with 30 points, while John Stockton led with 10 assists.
There’s another new widespread adjustment to the Jazz’s schedule this year: home games on Fridays and Saturdays will be moved to start a half hour later, at 7:30 p.m. MT. Others will usually be at 7 p.m. MT.
Utah Jazz schedule breakdown
Overall, it looks to be a relatively favorable schedule for the team.
They have the second-easiest schedule in the league, when calculated by last year’s winning percentage. They face 13 back-to-back games, tied for the lowest in the league.
And while Utah is typically a travel-heavy location thanks to a relative lack of nearby cities, the Jazz fly the 10th-fewest miles in the NBA this season. The Jazz will have 10 games with a rest advantage, and 10 games with a rest disadvantage.
Perhaps the season’s toughest stretch comes in early January, when the team plays Eastern Conference contenders Boston, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee consecutively on the road before returning to play the NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Then, a week later, the team embarks on a six-game road trip, their longest of the season, albeit against an easier schedule — Houston, New Orleans, Washington, Charlotte, Brooklyn, and finally New York.
National TV games
That being said, it won’t be a campaign with many national eyeballs. The Jazz have seven games on NBA TV, and only one each on ESPN and TNT. If they perform well, those networks could choose to “flex” games on those channels at the end of the season.
As it stands, though, the Jazz have the ninth-fewest national TV games — eight teams only have one game on ESPN or TNT.
Jazz’s preseason calendar
The Jazz also announced four of their preseason games this year, with potentially more to come. They’ll
play the Clippers in Seattle on Oct. 10, Portland at the Delta Center on Oct. 14, the New Zealand Breakers at the Delta Center on Oct. 17, and at Sacramento on Oct. 19.
The Jazz’s full schedule is below: