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At the beginning of the 2022-23 NBA season, there was a lot of uncertainty with this Utah Jazz team and we weren’t really sure what to expect. If anything, expectations were very low, and the team was assumed to be headed for a tanking season.

It feels important to remind everyone that even the schedule makers and national broadcast companies didn’t expect anything exciting from the Jazz, who are not scheduled to appear on ESPN, TNT or ABC all season.

Of course, here we are with the Jazz in the top tier of the Western Conference, so I thought it would be a good idea to look at the schedule through a different lens than we might have when it was first released.

Games that would have once been viewed as a scheduled loss for the Jazz are now looking like the most important games of the season for them to test their mettle.

Mike Conley’s injury: What is a popliteus muscle and what does recovery look like? A medical expert explains

Below are five games between now and the New Year that I think are must-watch for Jazz fans:

Nov. 26 @ Suns

The Jazz beat the Phoenix Suns at Vivint Smart Home Arena once already. But the Suns were playing without Chris Paul and the Jazz only won that game by a single point. The Suns are right there at the top of the West with the Jazz, so this will be another good test.

Nov. 30 vs. Clippers

The Jazz have played the Clippers twice in Los Angeles already this season and they split those games. This time the Clippers will be on in Jazz territory and as of writing this, we don’t know if the Jazz are still going to be without Mike Conley. Seeing how this Jazz team fares against any of the top teams while Conley is sidelined will provide a lot of insight.

Dec. 17 @ Bucks

We get just two chances this season to see how the Utah Jazz will handle Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, and the first of those bouts comes midway through December, the first game of a tough road trip.

Dec. 19 @ Cavs

The second game of that trip will be the first time the Jazz play the Cleveland Cavaliers since Donovan Mitchell was traded. Mitchell has been outstanding with the Cavs since the deal, so not only is this a chance for the Jazz to play against him, but also to play against one of the best teams in the East.

Dec. 30 @ Kings

The Sacramento Kings have been one of the other pleasant surprises of the season. As of writing this they are on a seven-game win streak and area also in the upper echelon of the Western Conference. They have a lot of really dynamic and feisty players and I think that they match up well with the Jazz. This should be a fun night of basketball.

New with the Jazz

Jazz mailbag: Looking at where the team goes from here and what development is necessary for some of the young players

This week in Jazz history

On Nov. 26, 2000, John Stockton appeared in his 1,271st NBA game, all in a Utah Jazz uniform, passing previous record-holder John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics for most career games played for one team. “I have such great respect for John Havlicek, I can’t even express it,” Stockton said at the time.

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week the crew takes some time off for the holiday, but you can listen to our full backlog of episodes, and stay tuned for more exciting stuff coming in the next week.

The podcast has moved to a new feed, so remember to follow or subscribe by searching for “Unsalvageable” through your podcast provider.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

From the archives

Rudy Gay sidelined with hand sprain, clearing the way for Simone Fontecchio
How does a good NBA team respond to a losing streak? Jazz think they have the right approach

Extra points

  • Collin Sexton against the Clippers was a perfect microcosm of his imperfect tenure with the Utah Jazz (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • The unique way the Jazz are taking advantage of the NBA’s 3-point revolution (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Opinion: The Jazz are winning ‘because we don’t have stars’ (Deseret News)

Around the league

Patrick Beverley ejected for shoving Deandre Ayton.

Magic, Rockets and Pelicans leading the race for Victor Wembanyama.

Up next

Nov. 25 | 8 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Golden State Warriors | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 26 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Phoenix Suns | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 28 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 30 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers | AT&T SportsNet

Dec. 2 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Indiana Pacers | AT&T SportsNet