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January is the Utah Jazz’s heaviest month of road games. Here’s why that’s not a bad thing

SHARE January is the Utah Jazz’s heaviest month of road games. Here’s why that’s not a bad thing

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, center, gestures after scoring during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Jazz won 120-107. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


ORLANDO — The 23-12 Utah Jazz will be rounding out their first road trip of 2020 on Monday night in New Orleans against the Pelicans, but the end of this three-game trip will be far from the team’s last night away from home this month.

January is the most road-heavy month of the season for the Jazz with just six home games of the 15 total games in the month.

For a team with new players, the road is possibly the best place to be. There really isn’t a chance to be away from one another during a road trip. There are flights and dinners and bus rides and hanging out in each other’s rooms.

The players learn about their teammates’ lives outside of basketball and it creates stronger bonds and those bonds can translate to generosity on the court.

“We can hang out and talk about life, about everything, not just basketball,” Bojan Bogdanovic said on Saturday. “For a new team, new players, it’s kind of better to be on the road.”

The Jazz played eight games away from home in November and it was something that Donovan Mitchell thought was really helpful after an offseason of so much roster change. The new guys were able to find a level of comfort with their teammates early on and fall into a rhythm as far as time management is concerned.

“It allows us to understand kind of how to approach it and go about recovery, how to treat our bodies, how to be mentally ready, and obviously the time zones are different and all that stuff so sleeping schedule is different” he said.

Having already established those schedules and habits, the addition of Jordan Clarkson comes at a good time. Hitting the road with a team that has found a groove makes it easy for him to find his place in everything.

On the court, Clarkson won’t have to deal with the Jazz trying to learn where he likes to run or the spots he likes to get the ball while also trying to learn the same thing about five other players. It’s just one person that has to be folded in.

“Getting to know where one person likes to cut to the ball, what side of the floor they like to run plays on, that takes time,” Mitchell said, noting that he has already learned a lot about Clarkson’s game.

There are advantages and disadvantages to being on the road in the NBA and the challenges are not always mutually exclusive from the benefits.

The things Mitchell mentioned, recovery and sleeping schedules, along with preparing for the competition, can all be taxing and extremely difficult on the road, but they can also be the trials that ultimately bring a team closer together.

“The road presents a unique set of challenges,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Our goal on the road has been to use that to improve.”

The Jazz will return home for two games on Jan. 8 and 10 at Vivint Smart Home Arena against the Knicks and Hornets, respectively, before heading out on their second three-game trip of the month in which they will face the Wizards and Nets before again closing things out in New Orleans.