SALT LAKE CITY — If playoffs stated today, the Utah Jazz would be on the outside looking in.
Consecutive losses over the weekend to Memphis at home and Denver on the road dropped the Jazz into a tie for ninth in Western Conference standings with Minnesota, New Orleans and the L.A. Lakers with a 4-5 record, a half game ahead of the Houston Rockets.
Of course, we’re less than a month into the 2018-19 season and the playoffs won’t start for another six months, so it’s silly even to mention the postseason, right? With 73 games left, the Jazz certainly aren’t panicking or even acting a little worried.
“At the end of the day, this is game nine,” said Donovan Mitchell after Saturday’s 103-88 loss. “This isn’t like we’re in March or April, time to freak out. Obviously we can’t have that mindset all year, like, ‘oh it’s only game 20,’ but we’re building.”
Coach Quin Snyder was quite positive despite the 15-point defeat in Denver, talking about the positives of his team’s improved defense and three solid quarters prior to a final-quarter collapse.
“It was three competitive quarters,” he said. “We competed in the fourth quarter, but the score didn’t reflect our effort.”
The problem in the fourth quarter was that the ball didn’t go in the hoop for Utah, which shot 23 percent on 4-of-17 shooting, compared to the Nuggets’ 56 percent on 13 of 23.
You could say that a 4-5 record is about where the Jazz were expected to be at this point of the season, considering that only three of their first nine games were at home. The thing is, the Jazz have yet to win at home, losing all three, two to Memphis as well as the heartbreaking home-opener loss to Golden State, while going an impressive 4-2 on the road.
The Jazz have a chance to turn that home record around this week with three homes games, beginning with Toronto, which has the best record in the Eastern Conference (8-1) Monday night. On Wednesday night, the Jazz will host Dallas, who they’ve already beaten on the road, while Friday is the highly anticipated game with the Boston Celtics and former Jazzman Gordon Hayward making his first appearance since leaving the Jazz last year.
When asked about the upcoming homestand, Snyder was vague in his assessment.
“I’m going to go back and look at the film," he said. "It’s early in the year and there’s lot of things we want to do better. We want to win, that’s the goal. A lot of things we’ll look at and try to improve in a number of areas and come out and get a few W’s and play well at home.”
It the Jazz don’t want to dig themselves too big of a hole, they better make some hay this week, because the rest of the month is brutal, with 10 of the following 12 on the road, including a five-game road trip starting in Memphis on Nov. 12. The Jazz have played well on the road this year, but they can’t count on winning two-thirds of their road games as they have so far.