The Utah Jazz basketball schedule has been released for the 2013-2014 season with fireworks coming to town right from the start.
Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder come to Salt Lake City Oct. 30 for the season opener. That will be the first chance to see the young guns of the Jazz take the floor as the starters, as they hope to battle through any early-season doubts that may arise on whether or not they can make a run to the playoffs.
The Jazz have the usual big games that fans mark on their calendars, but with the turmoil taking place with Los Angeles Lakers, those two games scheduled may not be as big a deal this year as they would have been in previous years.
The Lakers head to Salt Lake City on Dec. 27 and April 14. With Kobe Bryant’s Achilles injury, the Lakers could be down in the dumps when they come to Salt Lake on Dec. 27, making that game not such a highlight. But, they’re the Lakers so who knows?
The two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat visit Utah on Feb. 8. We’ll pretty well know where the Jazz’s young roster stands by that point. Will Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Trey Burke and Alec Burks be proving everyone wrong by that point? Or will the Jazz be on their way to another pick in the NBA Draft Lottery?
The early-season fireworks don’t stop with the Thunder on Oct. 30. Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets visit Salt Lake on Nov. 2, which is the second home game for the Jazz. Don’t blink because the Rockets will be right back in EnergySolutions Arena one month later on Dec. 2.
Some of the Jazz’s most exciting home games are the lone trips from visiting Eastern Conference opponents. Deron Williams and Andre Kirilenko make their returns to Utah together for the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 19. You’ll also get to see Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that day, by the way. Derrick Rose will finally (hopefully) be back in uniform for the Chicago Bulls when they visit Utah on Nov. 25. The Indiana Pacers, a team many think could overtake the Heat this year in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, come to the mountains on Dec. 4. Electric Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers visit EnergySolutions Arena on Jan. 10. With Andrew Bynum now on the roster for the Cavs, that could be an interesting matchup. The Cavs could very well be a playoff team this year.
The Jazz get to face the San Antonio Spurs fairly early in the 10th game of the season on Nov. 15. The next home game against the defending Western Conference champion Spurs takes place a month later on Dec. 14, which is the lone home game in the middle of seven road games. That’s the Jazz’s longest road trip, so to speak, is that stretch of seven in eight between Dec. 11 and Dec. 23. And it’s daunting considering the only home game in that stretch is against the Spurs.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are interesting, as usual, because they may not live up to expectations once again. But we’ll see. Depending on both them and the Lakers, the Jazz’s final two games of the season are a toss up. The Jazz might be battling for that final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and both the Lakers and Wolves are teams that could be right in there battling with them. That’s why it’s fun that those are the Jazz’s final two games. As previously mentioned, the Jazz host the Lakers on April 14, and then they finish the regular season on April 16 on the road against the Wolves.
The Jazz could end up in the exact same situation they ended the 2012-2013 season — fighting on the final day of the season for a playoff spot.