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Utah Jazz will open 2020-21 season Dec. 23 on road against Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) dive for a loose ball as the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers play at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Portland won 126-118.
FILE: Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) dive for a loose ball as the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers play at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Portland won 126-118. The Jazz will open the 2020-21 season on the road at Portland on Dec. 23.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The first portion of the schedule for what is sure to be a unique 2020-21 season for the Utah Jazz was released on Friday afternoon.

The Jazz will open the regular season Dec. 23 on the road against former Weber State star Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. Utah will have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off before its home opener Dec. 26 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in which a limited number of fans will be allowed in.

The Jazz’s first game against the Denver Nuggets, whom they fell to in the first round of the playoffs last season, will be a road contest on Jan. 17. Utah will not play the 2020 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers until Feb. 24 in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz will play seven back-to-back sets in this first portion of the campaign, with 20 of their games on the road and 17 at home. There has been speculation that the league would group games together to limit travel, and Utah has three sets of such contests in the first half of the schedule.

The Jazz will face the New Orleans Pelicans at home on Jan. 19 and 21, the Dallas Mavericks at home on Jan. 27 and 29 and the LA Clippers on the road on Feb. 17 and 19.

Certainly the most brutal portion of the schedule will be a whopping seven-game road trip from Jan. 3-13, while the longest homestand is six games from Jan. 19-29.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton examined each team’s schedule on Friday using a mathematical projection system, and Utah’s slate graded out to be the fifth-hardest among the NBA’s 30 teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder project to have the toughest schedule and the Orlando Magic the easiest.

As the league promised, just the first half of the schedule, which will take the Jazz through March 3, was released Friday. The rest will be released at a later date.

The season will open Dec. 22 with two games, the Golden State Warriors at the Brooklyn Nets and the Clippers against the Lakers, with the Lakers being designated the home team.