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NBA Releases Full Christmas, Opening Week Schedule For 2018-19 Season

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The NBA’s 73rd season will begin play on October 16 with a matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics, as the league announced a limited national television schedule on Wednesday.

The Golden State Warriors start defense of their back–to–back titles later that night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The full NBA schedule will be announced on Friday.

Check out the games announced below:

Some of the season’s most intriguing matchups are a direct result of the movement of the offseason, which saw LeBron James head out west to join the Los Angeles Lakers and All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins being added to an already stacked Warriors lineup.

The Lakers will open their season on the road Oct. 18 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Christmas games feature the Warriors and Lakers, the 76ers visiting the Celtics, the Utah Jazz hosting the Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks traveling to New York to play the Knicks and the Thunder taking on the Rockets in Houston.

The annual slate of games on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 21 include New Orleans Pelicans against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Rockets and 76ers in Philadelphia with the late game featuring the Warriors and the Lakers, this time in Los Angeles.

The All-Star Game will take place on February 17 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The game in Charlotte was originally supposed to be played in 2017, but was moved to New Orleans due to the state’s so-called “bathroom bill,” a law that limited anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

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Utah Jazz drop full 2018 NBA Summer League schedule

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Utah Jazz announce Utah Summer League schedule

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The Utah Jazz have announced the Utah Summer League schedule which includes a pair of newcomer teams in the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies.

Along with the NBA Draft and the exciting free agency period, one of the offseason traditions that has become a highly anticipated mainstay among Utah Jazz fans is the Utah Summer League. Taking place in July of each year, the Summer League in SLC has been a fun chance for fans to get an early look at promising young players as well as a small taste of Jazz basketball on their home court to tide them over during the long offseason.

There was some concern that the Utah Summer League could be in peril after the Orlando Summer League was done away with beginning with the 2018 offseason, as well as when both the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers announced they wouldn’t play in Salt Lake this year. Especially with all 30 teams participating in Las Vegas Summer League this summer, the future of the event in Utah felt unclear.

Fortunately, even after those changes, the Jazz made it clear that the Utah Summer League tradition would continue, albeit with some new faces. With the official Utah Summer League schedule release on Wednesday, we now know which teams will be participating and when those games will be held.

The Jazz will be joined in Summer League by the returning San Antonio Spurs as well as the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies. Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery revealed that Atlanta will receive the third overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft while the Grizzlies will receive the fourth. In other words, there will likely be some top incoming talent in action in this year’s Utah Summer League.

The games will be played on July 2nd, 3rd and 5th at Vivint Smart Home Arena, with the following teams playing as follows:

This will give Jazz fans a first look at whoever Utah opts to select with the 21st and 52nd picks of the 2018 NBA Draft (assuming they don’t trade up to nab a specific target as they did last year with Donovan Mitchell). While I would guess that after a near All-Star caliber year, Mitchell likely won’t participate in Summer League, I could be wrong as the second-year player is certainly eligible.

Certainly, though, Jazz fans will get a chance to see last year’s first-round draft pick Tony Bradley as well as potentially catching Utah’s two-way players from this past season Georges Niang and Erik McCree. Nigel Williams-Goss, who has been killing it playing overseas in Serbia, could potentially be in action as well.

We’ll be sure to keep you posted once Summer League rosters are announced at some point following the NBA Draft. For now, mark your calendars for this fun event in July that’s always an absolute thrill to enjoy. I know I, for one, am ecstatic that Summer League is returning to Salt Lake City and will feature a pair of new teams with top picks in the upcoming draft.



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Utah Jazz-Houston Rockets Round 2 schedule and primer

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Having dispatched the OKC 3 in Round 1, the Utah Jazz have secured a second-round date with James Harden and the Houston Rockets.

Against all odds, the Utah Jazz’s improbable forward march continues. After falling to 19-28 in January, the team has steamrolled its way to prominence in the wild Western Conference. On Friday, the Jazz wrapped up their first-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now, it’s onto Round 2 and the Houston Rockets.

Without question, the Big 3 of OKC gave the Jazz band its fair share of headaches. Things are going to hit another level, though, when Jazz defenders square up against James Harden.

About the Rockets

As is the case with just about every squad in the Association, Harden has feasted on the Jazz D historically. Over the past two seasons, he’s averaged 33 points, seven assists, over five rebounds and nearly two steals per contest against Utah.

He dropped 56 on 19-of-25 shooting and 7-of-8 from distance against the Jazz earlier this season.

If he were all the Jazz had to contend with, that would be one thing. However, Coach Mike D’Antoni‘s team is loaded with potential problems.

Chris Paul is coming off a first-round series during which he dropped a 19-8-5 line on the Minnestoa Timberwolves. He may have an extra measure of motivation, too. After all, the Jazz were responsible for ending his playoff run with the LA Clippers last season.

Meanwhile, Clint Capela is one of the few big men league-wide that can cause Rudy Gobert problems down low. Then there’s the issue of the longball; the Rockets have no less than seven rotational players that hit the three at 35 percent or better during the regular season.

They also led the NBA in 3-point makes per game at over 15 per contest.

About the Jazz

As for the Jazz, defense continues to tell the tale. Despite facing a top 10 offense loaded with high-level scorers in Round 1, the Jazz have given up just 100.7 points per 100 possessions in the postseason. That’s third best among playoff teams; just a hair below the top-ranked Golden State Warriors (100.3).

Utah’s starting five boasted a D-rating of just 94.6 against OKC.

Offensively, the Jazz got contributions from across their roster in the first-round. That said, no player shined brighter than Donovan Mitchell. The things he did in the series were simply historic.

Here’s the rundown:

• Mitchell was the third rookie in the last 35 seasons with multiple 30-point games in a series. The other two: Michael Jordan and Alonzo Mourning.

 The 171 points Mitchell scored in his first six career playoff games were the third most by a rookie in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain.

• He was also the fourth rookie in NBA history to drop 35 or more points in a series-clinching victory. The others are Chamberlain, Kareem and Magic Johnson.

In other words, this kid gets buckets. And the Jazz are going to need them when they take on the Rockets.

Here’s the schedule —

Game 1

  • Date: Sunday, April 29
  • Time: 1:30 PM MT
  • Location: Toyota Center in Houston, Texas
  • TV: ABC
  • Streaming: WatchESPN

Series schedule (to be updated)

  • Game 1 @ Houston: Sunday, April 29, 1:30 PM MT, ABC
  • Game 2 @ Houston: Wednesday, May 2
  • Game 3 in Salt Lake City: TBD
  • Game 4 in Salt Lake City: TBD
  • Game 5 @ Houston: TBD (if necessary)
  • Game 6 in Salt Lake City: TBD (if necessary)
  • Game 7 @ Houston: TBD (if necessary)

Programming note: there will be no local/Jazz broadcasts for the remainder of the playoffs. We’ll update the national broadcast schedule as information becomes available.



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Utah Jazz - Oklahoma City Thunder: Full first-round schedule

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The schedule is set for what should be a thrilling series between the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz and fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 2018 NBA Playoffs are set to get underway this weekend with four games apiece on both Saturday and Sunday beginning with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs on Saturday at 1:00 PM MT at Oracle Arena. That series figures to be one of many exhilarating matchups this year.

But of course the one that we’re most excited about here at The J-Notes is none other than the battle between our very own Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite both teams finishing with an identical record of 48-34, the fourth-seeded Thunder edged out the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz in the standings due to owning the regular season series record tiebreaker. OKC defeated Utah 3-1 during the 2017-18 season.

However, the regular season series doesn’t really do this matchup justice as the first game came back in October and the other three were played in December. Rudy Gobert suited up in only two of them and the Thunder’s now-injured perimeter defender extraordinaire Andre Roberson played in all four but won’t be in action in the playoffs.

Not to mention, each contest was played well before Utah’s January turnaround where they would go on to conclude the season as one of the NBA’s hottest teams by finishing the year 29-6. In short, these are not the same two teams that saw each other exclusively in the first half of the season, making the matchup somewhat of a mystery.

We’ve covered the matchup in great detail already here on The J-Notes, with a deep dive on the pros and cons of the series as well as composite predictions for every first-round series, so be sure to check those out for further insight and analysis.

The Jazz and Thunder will begin their series on Sunday afternoon at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Below is the full series schedule and national TV broadcast info:

  • Game 1: Sunday, April 15 at 4:30 PM MT – Oklahoma City, OK – TNT
  • Game 2: Wednesday, April 18 at 6:00 PM MT – Oklahoma City, OK – NBA TV
  • Game 3: Saturday, April 21 at 8:00 PM MT – Salt Lake City, UT – ESPN
  • Game 4: Monday, April 23 at 8:30 PM MT – Salt Lake City, UT – TNT
  • Game 5 (if necessary): TBA – Oklahoma City, OK
  • Game 6 (if necessary): TBA – Salt Lake City, UT
  • Game 7 (if necessary): TBA – Oklahoma City, OK

The first-round games are also broadcast locally on AT&T Sports Net.

I know I’m biased, but love for the Jazz aside, this truly appears to be one of the most exciting and evenly-matched series of the first round. There are some thrilling individual matchups, two good defenses and a nice “star power” vs. “strength in numbers” story line to keep an eye on.

The Utah Jazz will certainly be in for a challenge against a tough OKC team. Ironically, in many ways this series mirrors the one of last season where the Jazz were able to come out on top against a favored LA Clippers team that held home court advantage and had a 3-1 regular season series edge over Utah.

Ideally, history will repeat itself and the Jazz will provide us with yet another exciting series that will see them advance to the second round of postseason action for the second consecutive year. Regardless of how the playoffs pan out, though, the fact that Utah was able to return to the fifth seed in the West again this season after a turbulent summer makes 2017-18 an absolute success.

And it also signifies that the future for the Utah Jazz is without a doubt bright.



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Remaining Schedule For Lower Seeds In East

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The GameTime crew takes a look at the remaining schedule for seeds 6-8 in the Eastern Conference and contemplate whether teams are jockeying to get a favorable matchup in the postseason.

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The Jazz get more rest in longer NBA schedule, but less practice time

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Washington • When the NBA pushed the season start date up by nearly two weeks, there was a collective exhale: The league had been looking to get rid of some of the tougher quirks of the schedule, including teams playing four games in five nights.

But for everything, there’s a tradeoff. And one of the hidden costs, the Utah Jazz (16-24) have come to realize, is paradoxically that while there’s more rest in between games, sometimes there’s less time to practice.

There might have been a time where the space between a Sunday game in Miami and a Wednesday game in Washington would mean some extra time off for players. But the coaching staff leaned in a different direction, holding practices Monday and Tuesday at the University of Miami. The dilemma for Quin Snyder has been trying to figure out other times to do it.

“It makes you nervous as a coach: You see slippage in some areas [when you can’t practice],” Snyder said. “What happened a little bit with the NBA schedule, when you had four in five nights, you at least had two days so you could get a practice in. When you’re playing every other day, you know it’s hard to find time to practice. A lot of times you feel like you need a day of rest. Even if that doesn’t mean a day off completely.”

A combination of injuries and a road-heavy schedule in December left the Jazz few days to actually have a full practice, and on one of the days they were able to, only eight players were available.

Snyder said his first year as a coach, he ran pregame shootarounds more like practices. The Jazz were so young, “we felt like we had so much teaching to do.” With more veterans this year, that intensity has loosened up, but the Jazz still have a lot of rotation players who weren’t playing last year. That sometimes leads to more breakdowns in simple things such as terminology, Snyder said.

Even “no practice” this year hasn’t meant a full day off: The Jazz typically do film and treatment even when they don’t have to suit up for practice, Derrick Favors said. It’s a way of getting mental reps in while keeping the body fresh. And practices are tuned so that some of the most heavily used players don’t get overworked.

“They’ll see how many minutes you’ve been playing over five, 10 games,” Favors said. “Practice kind of dictates that so you don’t bring yourself to the ground. They do a good job. They do stuff I don’t even know about.”

Losing 13 of their last 16 games has seemingly placed a greater burden on the Jazz to iron some things out in practice, hence the sessions in Miami. There’s definitely some evidence that success follows practice: The Jazz are 6-4 with two or more days of rest (during which they’ll typically have a practice), but only 5-15 with one day of rest. Utah is also 5-4 on the second day of back-to-back games.

With six more road games in January, it will continue to be an issue that Snyder will have to juggle. Is it more important to stay fresh, or to refocus your team and stay sharp?

“Traditionally we’ve tapered as the season’s gotten along,” Snyder said. “Invariably you’ll see some things you need to work on. Maybe the priority is there over fatigue. It’s OK to be a little tired if you’re better.”

Tony Bradley rejoins Jazz

Another big man comes back up for Utah as the team heads to the nation’s capital: The Jazz recalled rookie Tony Bradley from the Salt Lake City Stars.

With the move, Bradley has completed his 10th G League assignment. Bradley has played sparingly in his first NBA season, but has been a centerpiece for the Stars. He’s averaging 15.3 ppg and 10.8 rpg in the G League.

The UNC product missed a chance to spend a few days in his native Florida, but could return to North Carolina when the Jazz visit Charlotte. Bradley won a national championship with the Tar Heels last year.

Favors was added to the injury report on Monday as probable (right ankle sprain) for Wednesday’s game against the Wizards. The forward participated in portions of Monday’s and Tuesday’s practices in Miami, according to the team.

Raul Neto (knee/concussion protocol), Rudy Gobert (knee) and Dante Exum (shoulder) are all expected to be out for Wednesday’s game.

JAZZ AT WIZARDS

Capital One Arena, Washington

Tipoff • Wednesday 5 p.m. MST

TV • AT&T Sports Network

Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM

Records • Jazz 16-24, Wizards 23-17

Last meeting • Jazz 116, Wizards 69 (Dec. 4, 2017)

About the Wizards • In his last 13 games since returning from injury, John Wall is averaging 16.6 ppg, 8.8 apg and shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor, all down from his season averages. … The Wizards lost their last game against Milwaukee, but are 6-2 in their last eight games. … Washington is No. 1 in the NBA in opponent 3-point percentage, holding other teams to just 33.4 percent shooting beyond the arc.

About the Jazz • Utah’s December win over the Wizards was both the fewest points allowed (69) this season as well as the largest margin of victory (47 points) this season for the franchise. … In their last 15 games (3-12, the Jazz have the No. 29 offensive rating in the league (100.7) and the lowest net rating (minus-10.2). … Donovan Mitchell has the highest usage rate (28.1) on the Jazz, which ranks No. 27 in the NBA and second among rookies (to Dennis Smith Jr.).



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SC7: Long December, How Good Are the Jazz, Passing History & More

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There isn’t a ton of good news to discuss in this last Salt City Seven of 2017. The Jazz have been in their deepest and most protracted funk of the season, but as we cover in the main section today, things might be about to turn as the schedule heads into January.

 

A quick(ish) exploration of a prominent theme from the week or the current state of Utah Jazz basketball.

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, the Jazz will head into 2018 well below .500. They close out the calendar year against the Cavaliers, but regardless of the outcome of that game, Utah will finish December either five or seven games below an even mark.

We knew December would be a tough month. What we didn’t know is that the Jazz would only get 41 December points (in 133 minutes) from Rudy Gobert, who hurried back from one injury just to suffer one in his other leg six games later. They’ll have to deal with his absence well into January as well, forcing them to cobble together an identity without their defining defensive star.

But it wasn’t just Gobert’s absence that hampered the Jazz. Star rookie Donovan Mitchell hit something of a rough patch, missing a couple of games of his own with a toe problem, and struggling with more focused scouting reports when he does play. In Utah’s current 2-10 slide, Mitchell has shot just 31 percent from three. He’s still scoring (20.9 points per game) because of the sheer number of possessions he’s using, but it has been a challenging month as teams’ awareness of the burgeoning star heightens.

Alec Burks has cratered, making just 17 of his last 56 shot attempts (and four of his last 16 threes) after playing undoubtedly his best stretch of games in the past three years. Joe Ingles, while still facilitating well, has had a rather pedestrian run of games scoring the ball, too: 8.9 points on 40-37-60 shooting numbers over his last 12. Ricky Rubio’s shot continues to be a shaky enterprise, and Rodney Hood has had as many games scoring under 12 as he has had over 20.

The result of all of that is that Utah hasn’t just been beat in 10 of their last 12, but they’ve also struggled to compete lately. Seven of their last nine losses have been double-digit margins.

There is some good news, though…

Utah’s schedule is about to get a little softer, at least in terms of opponent strength. It will still be a road-heavy month — eight of 13 outside the Beehive — but instead of facing each conference’s best teams, they have a friendlier slate. They will face 11 straight teams with records below .600 before finishing the month against the Raptors and Warriors.

So things will likely start looking up soon. After all, it would be hard for them not to.

 

Words from a Jazz player or coach about a relevant or timely topic.

There’s a difference between being reported on personnel who you are versus a game plan, which is more what you do. It’s his credit that he’s transitioned into that as far as people prepare for that… It’s a credit to him. They (opponents) see some of the things in him that we see in him, and they recognize it.”

– Quin Snyder, to the Tribune’s Kyle Goon, on how teams are paying more attention to Mitchell

It’s hard to tell how much of Mitchell’s struggles are related to teams’ increased awareness of who is, and how much is just typical rookie wall stuff after playing more than a full college season’s worth of games.

But this now becomes an intriguing subplot to the next 10 or 15 games: how will Mitchell push through his latest stretch where he has been less impactful in overall terms than he was in November and even early December?

The ride for rookie guards in the NBA is never a straight A-to-B proposition, so it should surprise precisely nobody to see Mitchell experience some typical ups and downs. He has seen games where teams were ready for his drive-and-scoop plays with that long 6’10” wingspan, he has seen games where he got less airspace as a shooter, and he has had games littered with defensive mistakes.

That’s all par for the course for a young guy coming into his own. And along the way, he’s earned recognition from a long line of stars from around the league who have stopped him after games to give him words of encouragement.

 

Stats and figures that help tell prominent stories from the week.

14 & 8

One name that was absent from the list of struggling Jazz men we ran though above: Derrick Favors.

Since Gobert’s injury woes started, Fav has seen a decent amount of success as the lone traditional big in Utah’s 4-out lineups. He has averaged 14 and 8 since November 11, and he’s doing it on 56.5 percent shooting.

He has had some rough games interspersed, but largely he has been a bright spot for Utah in his role as provisional starting center. That said, it’s certainly not his role in the long term, which raises the question as to whether his strong recent play means as much to his hypothetical trade value as it means to his current role with the club.

 

A quick dissection of an awesome bit of Jazz offense from the week.

Utah’s offense with Gobert out differs from their usual stuff in a variety of ways. For one, they run far less cutesy stuff, probably because they don’t have to. The offense with these 4-out lineups the Jazz have run almost exclusively since Gobert’s latest collision is less contingent on duping the defense with layer upon layer of trickery and fluff disguising the meet of the action.

But they also try to strike quicker. Utah is definitely trying — at least selectively — to be a more mobile unit while Gobert mends, and one way they’ve found success at doing that is by running a simple staggered screen toward the middle before the defense is fully set.

These three plays all come from this week’s action and all involve an early stagger. In the first, which vaguely resembles pistol action, Ingles gives to Hood on a dribble pitch and then he and Ekpe Udoh set up the staggered screen for Hood to get to the middle. Since the defense is still getting settled, there’s confusion as to whose job it is to jump out at Hood. Everybody stays under the double screen, so Hood correctly pulls up and nails a three.

The screen on the second clip (which was actually from earlier in the same game) comes even earlier. As such, the three defenders involved in the action are still finding their respective guys, and Rubio is able to attack toward the middle and force Zaza Pachulia to switch. With the big guy on him, Rubio just needs a simple stutter step to get by him for the layup.

And earlier in the week, Rubio ran straight (and hard) into staggered screens right after crossing midcourt. Two guys followed him in a panic, leaving a two-on-one at the top of the key. Udoh screened for Hood to get another open one.

These three plays generated nine total points1 and yet none took more than :09 of clock time. By catching the defense off balance with a play that requires multiple defenders to make split-second decisions, Utah generated three good looks in a week when good looks weren’t always easy to come by.

 

Doling out credit for Jazz wins, one imaginary Spalding at a time.

No wins this past week, which means no Spalding love this time around. Don’t worry: as explained above, January should bring a few more wins.

 

A look at the Jazz’s postseason probabilities

Utah’s rough recent stretch has cost them some optimism in the playoff department.

The Jazz are still one of 10 teams in the thick of the Western Conference race, but their likelihood looks less certain than it did even a couple of weeks ago.

The LA Clippers have now leapfrogged them behind a strong run, so the Jazz are currently in tenth place. They’re as close to No. 13 Dallas as they are to the current eighth seed, New Orleans.

As such, FiveThirtyEight has dropped them to basically a coin toss to make the postseason. That will climb if the Jazz take advantage of a milder average opponent in January, but they now find themselves looking up at nine teams as we approach the midpoint of the season.

 

Because, at the end of the day, this should be fun.

While we keep analyzing and overanalyzing Ricky Rubio’s on-court ups and downs, the Spanish guard just keeps right on being an awesome human.

Congratulations to Rubio on this recognition, but more importantly on the impact he’s making.

Salt City Seven 2017-18 Archive

Dan Clayton

Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City, but contributes regularly to Salt City Hoops, FanRag and BBALLBreakdown.

Dan Clayton

Dan Clayton


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NBA schedule alert 2.0 - Games tired teams will lose in January

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After a midnight flight across a time zone, the Jazz blew their biggest lead of the season. Following wacky plane trouble, the Bulls were blown out. The Magic faced travel issues thanks to inclement weather, then ate a loss hours later.

And one head coach had the audacity to utter the following after a loss, “It’s a little perplexing why we haven’t been more energetic on back-to-backs.”

Yeah, right …

These were just some details from the nine teams who faced schedule alert scenarios in December — and eight of those teams lost, by the way. The only winner? The San Antonio Spurs, of course. But those savvy Spurs, ever mindful of fatigue and the pitfalls of the NBA schedule, barely won, as you’ll see below.

For now, December’s results mean that we have correctly predicted 19 of 22 games this season in which one team faced a distinct competitive advantage because of the schedule.

Again, our 86.4 percent success rate to this point is far and away better than where the data predicted we would be at this point in the season.

(As a refresher, before the 2017-18 season, we applied our schedule alert formula to 10 seasons — from 2007-08 through 2016-17 — and the results showed that teams facing schedule alert situations with a MahScore of 8 or higher lose 63 percent of the time.)

That said, here are January’s schedule alert games (apologies in advance to the Denver Nuggets), and below them are recaps of such games for December. January’s slate includes zero national television games, and the most severe schedule disadvantage of the season.

Jan. 2: Portland at Cleveland | MahScore: 8.5

So, this isn’t an ideal way to close out a back-to-back set and a three-games-in-four-days trip. Portland faces the Hawks in Atlanta on a Saturday, then cross a time zone to play the Bulls in Chicago on Monday. Then, after facing those Bulls, the Blazers will head out that night — and lose an hour in the process — for Cleveland, where they’ll face the Cavaliers less than 24 hours later. The Cavaliers will enter this game with a two-day rest advantage.

Jan. 3: Phoenix at Denver | MahScore: 9

This game registers as a red alert for the Suns, who will face plenty of not-very-fun obstacles here. First, this marks their third game in four days and the second of a back-to-back set. And, even worse, it’s the second of a back-to-back set that requires travel to elevation-drunk Denver, which veteran coaches will tell you is the most brutal schedule/fatigue scenario in the NBA. So after hosting the Hawks on Jan. 2, the Suns will leave Phoenix that same night and head for Denver and get in late, such is the distance from Denver International Airport and the city’s downtown. Oh, and the Nuggets will enter this game with an absurd three-day rest advantage. Three days!

1 Related

Jan. 6: Denver at Sacramento | MahScore: 8.5

One of these teams will be playing the second of a back-to-back set and their third game in four days … and one of these teams will enter this game with a three-day rest advantage. Yeah, that doesn’t exactly sound like a fair fight. The Nuggets will dance with the Jazz in Utah on Jan. 5, then head out that same night for Sacramento — gaining an hour in the process — to play the Kings, who will be on the 11th day of a 13-day homestand. Good luck, Nuggets.

Jan. 6: Chicago at Indiana | MahScore: 9.5

Red. Alert. This game actually triggered our third-highest MahScore of the NBA calendar, which tells you how steep the fatigue mountain is that the Bulls will have to climb. First, this will mark their fifth game in seven days. It will mark their third game in four days. And it will mark the second of a back-to-back set, with both of those games coming on the road. (Plus they’ll be crossing a time zone: not good!) So after facing the Mavericks in Dallas on Jan. 5, the Bulls will head out that same night for Indianapolis — and lose an hour in the process — to face the Pacers less than 24 hours later. And it’s not as if the Pacers need much of an edge here, but they’ll enter this game with a two-day rest advantage.

Jan. 10: Dallas at Charlotte | MahScore of 10

Sound the alarms from the mountain tops! This game has the most severe MahScore of 2017-18, folks. So feel free to send thoughts and prayers to the Mavericks in advance, because they’re going to need help. It’s tough enough that the Mavericks will be playing their third game in four days (and their fifth game in eight days). It’s tough enough that this will be the second of a home-road back-to-back set. But then consider the travel. The Mavericks will face the Magic at home on Jan. 9, then head out that night for Charlotte — a trek that will cost them an hour and that will span, oh, more than 900 miles as the crow flies. And somehow, someway, the Hornets will enter this game with a four-day rest advantage. You read that right: four days. Thoughts and prayers, Dallas. Thoughts and prayers.

Jan. 13: Denver at San Antonio | MahScore of 8

Facing the Spurs is tough enough, no matter the circumstances. Now imagine that it’s your third game in four days, and your fifth game in eight days. Imagine that it’s the second of a back-to-back set, and that after hosting the Grizzlies, you’ll fly East from Denver for San Antonio — losing an hour in the process — to face the Spurs less than 24 hours later. Now imagine that the Spurs will enter this game with a one-day rest advantage. Imagine all that, and it’s not hard to understand why the Nuggets might well be barbecued in this matchup.

Jan. 13: Golden State at Toronto | MahScore of 8

Even the mighty Warriors aren’t impervious to fatigue, especially considering the circumstances they face in this brouhaha. It’ll mark their third game in four days, their fifth game in eight days, and the second of a back-to-back set. And let’s not forget the travel involved. First, they’ll host the Clippers in Oakland on Jan. 10, then they’ll fly to Milwaukee — losing two hours in the process — to face the Bucks on Jan. 12. Then, after facing those swarthy Bucks, the Warriors will head out that same night for Toronto — losing another hour in the process … and probably more time as they pass through customs, so who knows exactly when their heads will hit the pillow at their downtown Toronto hotel? All we know is, it’ll be late. Very late. And then they’ll have to face the Raptors less than 24 hours later — a Raptors squad, mind you, that will enter this game with a one-day rest advantage and will be on a five-day homestand.

Jan. 20: Miami at Charlotte | MahScore of 8.5

Pardon the pun (or not), but this winter game ought to chill the Heat and then some. The schedule commands this be Miami’s fifth game in seven days (vs. the Bucks, at the Bulls, at the Bucks, then at Brooklyn, before heading to Charlotte), their third game in four days, and the second of a back-to-back set with travel involved, no less. The schedule also commands that this will be the fourth straight road game for the Heat. They’ll play in Milwaukee on Jan. 17, then head to Brooklyn — losing an hour in the process — to face the Nets on Jan. 19. And after facing those Nets, the Heat will head out that same night for Charlotte to duel the Hornets less than 24 hours later. Meanwhile, the Hornets will enter this game with a two-day rest advantage and will be on the fifth day of an 11-day homestand.

Jan. 30: Denver at San Antonio | MahScore of 8

“What?” you ask, head cocked askew. “How in the wide, wide world of sports could the Nuggets have two schedule alert games in San Antonio in the same month, much less the same season?” Such is the NBA schedule, dear reader. The Nuggets will be playing their third game in four days and their second of a back-to-back set, with, of course, travel involved. First, the Nuggets will host the Mavericks on Jan. 27, then the Celtics on Jan 29. And after facing those Celtics, the Nuggets will head out that same night — losing an hour in the process — for San Antonio, where they’ll face the Spurs less than 24 hours later. The Spurs, meanwhile, will enter this affair with a one-day rest advantage. They will also be on the sixth day of a 13-day homestand.

Jan. 30: Minnesota at Toronto | MahScore of 8

The Timberwolves will fly a league-high 55,289 miles this season, and a not-insignificant chunk of that will come during a five-games-in-seven-days stretch that will be capped off with this game. First, on Jan. 24, the Timberwolves will play the Trail Blazers in Portland, then head to Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors the very next night before returning home. Then, after hosting the Nets on Jan. 27, the Timberwolves will then head to Atlanta to face the Hawks on Jan. 29. And after that game against the Hawks, the Timberwolves will head out that same night for Toronto — getting to their hotel at who-knows-when thanks to customs — and face the Raptors, which, let it be said, will also be Minnesota’s third game in four days. You think you’re dizzy reading all that and trying to keep up with the Timberwolves’ travels? Now just imagine how they’ll feel. Oh, and the Raptors will enter this one with a one-day rest advantage, though it’s doubtful that they’ll need it to notch a win. The Raptors will also be on the sixth day of a seven-game homestand.


December’s schedule alert games

Grizzlies lose to the Cavaliers in Cleveland, 116-111, on Dec. 2

MahScore: 8

Credit the still-gritty Grizzlies for fighting hard when they’re down 19 in the second half on the second night of a back-to-back set, playing their third game in four days. After facing the Spurs in Memphis on Friday, the Grizzlies headed out that same night — losing an hour in the process — for Cleveland. The Cavaliers, who had a one-day rest advantage, were trailing early after the Grizzlies scored a first-quarter season high of 32 points. And the Cavaliers saw their big second-half lead erased when the Grizzlies tied the score at 109 in the final minutes, but then some guy named LeBron James took over, handing the Grizzlies their 11th straight loss.

Suns lose to the Raptors in Toronto, 126-113, on Dec. 5

MahScore: 8.5

How’s this for a brutal stretch? The Suns were tasked with heading north of the border to cap off an 11-day, season-long six-game trip, the second of a back-to-back set after playing in Philadelphia the night before, and their third game in four days. After beating the 76ers in Philadelphia on Monday, the Suns headed out that same night and didn’t arrive at their downtown Toronto hotel until 1 a.m. local time, according to the Arizona Republic. Meanwhile, the Raptors entered the game with a massive three-day rest advantage. As expected, the Suns were down big early, trailing by 13 in the first quarter and by 19 entering the fourth. Suns star Devin Booker, who scored a season-high 46 points in the win at Philadelphia, missed his first seven shots against the Raptors, finishing 4 of 15 from the field. More important, Booker, in his 78th minute of floor time over a 26-hour period, had to be carried off the court after suffering a noncontact groin injury late in the fourth quarter.

It marked the third time since Nov. 10 that the Suns have played a three-games-in-four-days stretch.

“We haven’t handled it well up to this point,” coach Jay Triano said, according to the Republic. “It’s a big test for us, getting in late, them having rest, us having three games in four nights. How are you going to respond? How are you going to get out there physically and mentally and fight through it?”

Jazz lose to the Thunder in Oklahoma City, 100-94, on Dec. 5

MahScore: 8

The Jazz were hot — white hot. They had won six straight, with rookie Donovan Mitchell dominating like an All-Star. But then, after hosting the Wizards in Salt Lake City, the Jazz headed out that same night for Oklahoma City — losing an hour in the process — to face a squad with a one-day rest advantage and that was in the midst of a five-game homestand. And though the Jazz built a 17-point lead by the third quarter, they ultimately wilted in the fourth, in which they were outscored 32-14. It proved to be the largest blown lead of the season for the Jazz.

“I thought our guys ran out of steam a bit, just emotionally,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “We’ve got to be able to play through that.”

Magic lose to the Hawks in Atlanta, 117-110, on Dec. 9

MahScore: 8.5

Hawks forward Ersan Ilyasova had some kind of night, scoring 26 points while making all nine of his field goals. So what was behind his flawless offensive output? Perhaps he had some magic feeling entering the evening? “Not really,” Ilyasova said postgame. “It was one of those nights, I guess. Obviously, everybody came out with a lot of energy. You have to give them credit; the Magic obviously [had] a back-to-back.” Ah, energy. The Hawks entered this game with a two-day rest advantage, and the Magic were on the tail end of a back-to-back set, playing their third game in four days and their fifth game in seven days. To further complicate matters for the Magic — they didn’t arrive in Atlanta until the day of the game because of inclement weather, according to the team’s website. (Normally, if a team needs to travel for the second half of a back-to-back set, it’ll immediately fly after the first game of that set.) Also, the Magic were without their two leading scorers — Aaron Gordon (concussion) and Evan Fournier (sprained ankle) — but they still made it interesting, no doubt, with forward Nikola Vucevic notching his first career triple-double (31 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists).

Spurs beat the Suns in Phoenix, 104-101, on Dec. 9

MahScore: 8

If anyone in the NBA knows how to carefully navigate a schedule-alert situation, it’s the Spurs. Which is why in this outing, which for San Antonio marked the end of a back-to-back set, their third game in four days and their fifth game in seven days, the following Spurs either didn’t play or didn’t even make the trip to Phoenix: Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson and Danny Green. But that some of those guys were home resting isn’t surprising after the Spurs won a nail-biter on national television over the Celtics the night prior, before flying to Phoenix. Even without several of their bold-faced names, the Spurs’ skeleton crew built a 19-point lead against the ever-dimming Suns, who were without star Devin Booker and entered the game with a one-day rest advantage … but somehow, the Suns came roaring back, taking their first lead of the game with 1:19 left. Still, the Spurs survived when guard Bryn Forbes hit a winning 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds left.

“It was our fifth game in seven nights, on the road, had a back-to-back to end it all,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said postgame. “I thought we were pretty tired, but I thought they hung in as well as they could.”

Hawks lose to the Grizzlies in Memphis, 96-94, on Dec. 15

MahScore: 8

The Eastern Conference-worst Hawks were closing out a five-games-in-seven-days stretch — and the tail end of a back-to-back set … and their third game in four days … so this wasn’t an easy task, even if they were up against a likewise lowly Grizzlies. After hosting the Pistons, the Hawks headed out that same night for Bluff City to face a Memphis squad that had have a one-day rest advantage. Still, the Hawks built a seven-point halftime lead … only to see it dwindle down the stretch, with Memphis’ Tyreke Evans hitting a go-head layup with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter.

Bulls lose to the Cavaliers in Cleveland, 115-112, on Dec. 21

MahScore: 8

We’ll leave it to Bulls.com reporter Sam Smith to explain an oddity surrounding this game. “It was an NBA milestone of sorts as the regular team plane was replaced by one much smaller, NBA players, it was believed, for the first time in more than two decades traveling in what approximated coach class,” Smith reported. “And then with the plane too small for the stairs in Cleveland, so the players after almost an hour wait on the plane had to exit climbing down a makeshift luggage conveyor braced up against the plane. This was a case of the baggage waiting for the passengers. It didn’t seem an ideal harbinger.”

Indeed, that travel calamity seemed as if it would foreshadow doom, but the Bulls, who entered this game riding a seven-game winning streak, hung tough, despite the fatigue they carried. What fatigue? Well, against the Cavaliers, the Bulls were closing out a three-games-in-four-days stretch. And after hosting the Magic on the 20th, the Bulls headed out that night for Cleveland — losing an hour in the process — to face LeBron James’ crew, which held a one-day rest advantage. As for the game itself, James, as you might have guessed, closed it out, finishing with 34 points, and Kevin Love pitched in with 27.

“We battled them, stood toe to toe with them and gave us a chance to win,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “[Our] effort was tremendous coming on a back-to-back, sitting on a plane for 40 minutes when we got in with no stairs.”

Celtics lose to the Knicks in New york, 102-93, on Dec. 21

MahScore: 8.5

Kristaps Porzingis was mighty limited, thanks to a banged-up knee, but the Celtics were mighty gassed, thanks to the NBA schedule. Boston was closing out a five-games-in-seven days stretch, their third game in four days and playing the second of a back-to-back set after hosting the Heat a day earlier. The Knicks, meanwhile, had a two-day rest advantage and jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter.

Though Porzingis finished with only one point on 0-of-11 shooting from the field after missing two games because of a sore left knee, the Knicks were carried by an unsuspected hero: Michael Beasley. Yes, you read that right. Beasley came off the bench and finished with a season-high 32 points.

Nets lose to the Pelicans in New Orleans, 128-113, on Dec. 27

MahScore: 8.5

Their second of a back-to-back set after playing in San Antonio the night before, their third game of a five-game trip, their fifth game in eight days … these were all stiff obstacles that the Nets were facing entering this soiree. But even more grueling was the fact that the Pelicans entered the game with a whopping three-day rest advantage.

As you might expect, the Nets came out s … l … o … w …, trailing by 16 in the first quarter, 23 in the second and by as much as 33 in the third. “It starts with the starting five,” said Nets guard Allen Crabbe, according to the New York Post. “Our energy wasn’t what it needed to be to start the game.” Added Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, “We’ve got to look at that first group and why we’re [flat]. We have to look at it,” Atkinson said. “I can’t give you an answer right now.”

And while the Nets looked flat, Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo ran circles around them, dishing out a franchise-record 25 assists, becoming the first player to hit that total since Jason Kidd in 1996. The Nets fell to 1-6 on the tail end of back-to-backs. “It’s a little perplexing why we haven’t been more energetic on back-to-backs,” Atkinson said, according to Newsday.

Is it really that perplexing, though?

Nuggets lose to the Timberwolves in Minneapolis, 128-125, on Dec. 27

MahScore: 8

Entering this game, the Nuggets had held their previous three foes to below 86 points, their longest such streak since 2012. But then this game was different. The Nuggets had hosted the Jazz on Dec. 26, then headed out that same night for Minneapolis — losing an hour in the process — to play their third road game in six days. And so the Nuggets’ improved defense faltered, as they fell into a 19-point hole in the first half. But Denver rallied, with a key second-half run to force overtime. And that’s where Jimmy Butler took over, scoring 12 of his his team’s 14 points in the extra session to ice the Timberwolves’ win. Butler finished with 39, all told.

“Down 19 points, second half, second night of a back-to-back, we could’ve very easily have folded and just rolled over,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the game. “I loved the fact that our guys never did that. We competed.”

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