With the calendar turning to April, it is now accurate to say that the NBA regular season will end next month (May 16), concluding a most unique campaign due to the pandemic.
The Utah Jazz continue to hold the league’s best record with a healthy 36-11 margin, as they are three games ahead of the Phoenix Suns heading into Thursday’s competitions, and the Suns are half a game ahead. on the Brooklyn Nets.
There are 25 scheduled games left for the Jazz over the next 46 days before the playoffs (this “scheduled” warning should always be used, as COVID-19 could still disrupt play). Here’s a breakdown of Utah’s slate as he looks to position himself for the playoffs.
Jazz will play a ton of games
First of all, a general note which is not only specific to Jazz. Every NBA team will have a mad race to try and finish a 72-game regular season so that the playoffs can end before the Summer Olympics in July and the league can start returning to a more normal schedule after that. last season was disrupted due to the pandemic.
How condensed will the schedule be by mid-May? Consider this: The most games played by a team so far is 48, the least is 46 (Utah has played 47). This means that over the next 46 days, teams will play between 24 and 26 games, or more than one game every other day.
To put that in some context, the season started on December 22 (most teams opened the next day), which means teams have had almost 100 days to play their games so far, or a bit. less than one every two days. Now it will be a match roughly every 1.75 days.
It might not seem like a huge difference, but the required movement loads and recovery time will surely start to catch up with squads somehow. Whatever teams can enter the playoffs not exhausted, they could be in good shape to make a run.
The remaining Jazz schedule seems to be pretty easy
When the second half of the regular season schedule was released in February, it looked like the end wouldn’t be too difficult for the Jazz depending on the teams present.
About a month later, that still seems to be the case. The Tankathon website, for example, has a formula in which it calculates the strength of the schedule, and Utah has the fourth easiest list among the 30 teams in the NBA, ahead of only the Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks and the Washington Wizards.
Some precisions :
- 15 of the Jazz’s 25 remaining games are against teams that are not currently in the playoffs (the top eight in their conference). Even when this is extended to additional play-in teams (ninth and 10th in conferences), Utah has 12 games remaining against non-playoff teams.
- 14 of the remaining matches will be played at home, including 12 in at least two consecutive home matches. One is sandwiched between three road trips and the other, the May 12 home final against the Portland Trail Blazers, comes after one road game and before two straight games to end the regular season.
- Six of the last nine games will be played at home.
- Nine of the remaining home games are against non-playoff teams. Five of the last 11 road games are against playoff teams, but none of the last three are. In total, four of the last five games are against non-playoff teams.
- In total, Jazz have six more consecutive sets, almost half of their schedule remaining. On the bright side, three of them are home sets and none are away.
- The Jazz still have two five-game homestands, while their longest remaining road trips are a three-player pair.
What about the other top teams in the West?
It’s too early to really consider how the teams might position themselves for the playoffs, but a group of Jazz’s closest competitors in the Western Conference appear to have tough remaining schedules.
According to the Tankathon formula, the Suns have the fourth toughest roster remaining, and the Los Angeles Lakers (currently fourth in the West) are right behind them in fifth place. The Trail Blazers, currently tied with the Denver Nuggets for fifth place, have the third toughest remaining schedule (the Nuggets are down to No.20).
The third-placed LA Clippers have the 23rd easiest schedule remaining. Spurs, eighth, have the second toughest schedule, according to Tankathon.