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Breaking down the Utah Jazz’s 2019-2020 regular-season schedule

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder talks with Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) as the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers play at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.
Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder talks with Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) as the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers play at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Thanks to the offseason changes management made and the more open nature of the Western Conference this year, many are expecting the Utah Jazz to be real contenders in the 2019-2020 season.

Of course not all factors for success are in a team’s control. One area in which this is the case is the team’s schedule, as who you play and when and where you play them can go a long way in determining a team’s win-loss record.

Case in point: Last season, it became a major item of discussion how the Jazz played 25 of their first 41 games on the road, and how they were hardly ever at home for two games in a row. Utah wound up going 20-21 in those games. The home-road imbalance shifted in the last 41 games, of course, and Utah went 30-11 in the second half. The schedule matters.

Here’s a month-by-month look at how the Jazz’s schedule looks heading into this season.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James adjusts his headband during the first half of the team’s preseason NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP

OCTOBER

The season is starting about a week later than it has over the past two seasons, so the Jazz will play just five games before November.

Last season as the Jazz’s first-half schedule was brutal, much was made about how playing one-off home games is not all that much different from playing consecutive road games because of the travel involved. Well, Utah this season will alternate between home and away for its first six games, starting Oct. 23 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The second game on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers (Oct. 25) should be interesting, as should an Oct. 30 home game against the LA Clippers. The Jazz also get the Sacramento Kings at home (the second game of a back-to-back) and the Phoenix Suns on the road to start things off.

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Oakland, Calif.
AP

NOVEMBER

The first full month of the campaign looks to be pretty average in terms of difficulty as Utah will continue its gelling process. There’s a small home-road imbalance, as the Jazz will play six games in Salt Lake City and eight elsewhere. There are two back-to-back sets, but just seven of the 16 games overall are against teams that made the playoffs last season.

Utah will get both of its games against the Milwaukee Bucks out of the way early, and there’s a funky set where the Jazz will play the Minnesota Timberwolves in back-to-back games, once at home and once on the road.

The only five-game road trip of the season will span from Nov. 25-Dec. 2, and it could be pretty challenging, as Utah will play the Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) in action during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP

DECEMBER

There is perfect home-road balance in December, with seven games apiece. There is just one back-to-back set, and just seven of the games are against teams that made the playoffs. Utah will have its annual pre-Christmas road trip, although this year it is only three games (Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat) as opposed to the typical four or five.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) moves the ball upcourt against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP

JANUARY

This will be the toughest month of the season in terms of home-road balance, but it’s not too bad, as there will be nine games away and six at home. Just six of the games are against teams that made the playoffs last season, with two at home and four on the road.

There is just one back-to-back set in the month, on Jan. 29 and 30 against the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets, with both games on the road (and the first two contests of a three-game road trip, which ends against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Jazz and Nuggets will meet again in Utah’s first game home after the trip).

Utah will reach the midway point of the season on Jan. 16 against the New Orleans Pelicans having played 18 home games and 23 road games (that contest is the last of a three-game road trip).

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) looks on in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP

FEBRUARY

To a certain degree, February should give the Jazz a chance for some recovery before the closing stretch of the season. Not only are there only 11 games on Utah’s schedule in the month because of the All-Star break (Feb. 13-20), but eight of those contests will be at home. That includes a six-game homestand that will go all the way from Feb. 12-28 because of the All-Star break.

The slate of games in the month is somewhat challenging, especially early, as the first four are all against good Western Conference teams (Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets), and seven in all are against teams that made the playoffs last year.

There is one back-to-back set, two home games against the San Antonio Spurs and Rockets on Feb. 21 and 22.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 120-103. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP

MARCH

The final full month of the regular season will again have perfect home-away balance, with eight each. The month does start with a four-game Eastern Conference road trip, but there’s a three-game homestand in the middle of the month to offset it some. Only six games are against playoff teams from last year, and there are two back-to-back sets, one with two away games and one with two home games.

The Jazz will have two instances in March in which they’ll play the same team in consecutive games (Lakers and Spurs), with each set having one home contest and one away.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard in an NBA preseason basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Los Angeles Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
AP

APRIL

Utah will play seven regular season games in April to conclude the 82-game slate. For the second straight year, the Jazz will open the month against an Eastern Conference foe (Cleveland Cavaliers this year) before finishing with all Western Conference teams.

Over the final 12 days of the regular season, Utah will play Portland on the road (second game of a back-to-back after playing Cleveland at home), Denver, the Clippers at home, the Suns and Thunder on the road before concluding the regular season April 14 at home against the Nuggets in a game featuring two teams that are expected to be serious Western Conference contenders.