SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz released the first half of the 2020-21 season schedule last week. The NBA is releasing the full 72-game two-part schedule to account for games that will need to be rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBA regular season begins on December 22 and ends on May 16. The play-in tournament between the 7-10 seeds of each conference will take place May 18-21, with the finals ending in mid-July.

With the schedule for the first half released, let’s take a look at the top five games on the Jazz horizon.

Top Five Jazz Games

Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers: December 22

The season opener for the Jazz will send them on the road to take on the Portland Trail Blazers. The Jazz won two of three meetings between the teams last year, but struggled to slow all-star goalie Damian Lillard.

The former Weber State star averaged 42.3 points, 8.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds in the teams’ three meetings, including a 51-point outing in February.

The Jazz were knocked out of the 2020 playoffs due to their inability to slow down goalie Jamal Murray, and a clash against Lillard will serve as an early indicator of whether the Jazz have resolved their defensive issues on the perimeter.

Portland brings a reshuffled roster in the season opener, having acquired Houston Rockets handyman forward Robert Covington and former Boston Celtics Jazzman Enes Kanter.

The Blazers are sure to compete for a playoff berth in the West and will be a good test for Jazz early in the season.

Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns: December 31

No team has been more aggressive during the shortened offseason than the Phoenix Suns who traded to All-Star goalie Chris Paul in mid-November and then signed former Jazzman Jae Crowder for a nearly 30 contract. million dollars over three years.

After going unbeaten in the NBA bubble and narrowly missing the playoffs, the Suns saw their opportunity to push the playoffs and made a significant financial investment to make it happen.

Now they have to prove it was worth it. Paul still has two years and around $ 85 million on his contract and has appeared to exceed the expectations of less talented teams while his more talented teams have underperformed.

Can the fiery spirit of his Oklahoma City Thunder team follow Paul to Phoenix, or will the Suns’ inconsistent play from last season torment them again?

The Jazz should get to know the revamped Suns well as they prepare for their New Years game. The two teams will face off twice during the NBA preseason starting later this week.

Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers: January 1

The Jazz will quickly follow their New Years battle with the Suns with a clash against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers were one of the more disappointing teams in the NBA bubble after taking a three-to-one lead over the Denver Nuggets with a chance to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

After losing big men Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green to opponents in the Western Conference, the Clippers added Serge Ibaka, who has just completed a year of career in Toronto.

But the real question hanging over the list is whether new coach Tyronn Lue can fix the poor locker room culture that permeated Los Angeles last season.

The Jazz won two of their three encounters against the Clippers last season, including perhaps their most impressive road win of the season shortly after acquiring sixth man Jordan Clarkson.

Will the Clippers be better in year two, or is the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George marriage doomed?

Utah Jazz at the Denver Nuggets: January 17

After an impressive run to the Western Conference Finals that included wins from behind against the Jazz and Clippers, the Denver Nuggets had one of the worst offseason in the NBA.

Denver lost big man Jerami Grant whose versatility was a key part of the Nuggets’ success in the playoffs, while backup center Mason Plumlee followed Grant to the Detroit Pistons.

Now, Denver will count on Michael Porter Jr. to take a big step forward in his second season, while hoping guard Will Barton will return to the fold after missing the Nuggets’ playoff race with injury.

Denver has finished with a top three record in the West each of the past three seasons and is expected to be contender for the home court advantage once against this season.

Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers: February 24

No NBA team gave the Jazz more trouble last season than the Los Angeles Lakers. The Jazz have lost all three meetings to the future champions, including a 25-point loss to Salt Lake City on Dec. 4.

The loss was so compelling that vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey cited it as one of the reasons the Jazz felt they needed to get bigger this offseason with the return of the front-runner. of the fans, Derrick Favors.

The Lakers fell in size during the offseason with the departures of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, although veteran Marc Gasol should help fill those gaps.

The additions of Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews and Montrezl Harrell give the Lakers extra firepower, and the Lebron James-led roster is expected to enter the season as favorites to repeat as champions.

The Jazz will only face the Lakers once in the first half of the schedule and should have a better idea of ​​where they stand on the competition ladder after the February game.