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Utah Jazz home games haven't felt like home games

December 04,2018 11:16

The Utah Jazz have a terrible record at home so far this season. And while they need to improve, there's certainly a viable explanation why. The Utah Jazz's slow start to the 2018-19 season has been both surprising but also somewhat predictable. What I ...and more »

The Utah Jazz have a terrible record at home so far this season. And while they need to improve, there’s certainly a viable explanation why.
The Utah Jazz’s slow start to the 2018-19 season has been both surprising but also somewhat predictable. What I mean is, while their 11-13 start has definitely been underwhelming, the fact that they’ve faced some early-season struggles isn’t that shocking. The reason being – their schedule to start the year is a gauntlet.
Between a road-heavy slate and several tough opponents, it was certainly within the realm of possibilities for the Jazz to start off worse than they’d finish. What’s been disheartening, though, has been the nature of some of those losses and the fact that Utah has failed to capitalize on some of their more winnable games.
However, perhaps the oddest of aspects about the season thus far has been the discrepancy between Utah’s road and home record. Namely, they’re a solid 9-7 on the road, which is better than every other team in the West save the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder. But unfortunately, it’s counterbalanced by an abysmal home record of 2-6, easily the worst in the West.
That’s uncharacteristic for the Jazz who have long been known for having one of the most staunch home courts in the NBA. Between raucous fans and altitude on their side, Vivint Smart Home Arena isn’t typically a favorable place to play. Yet, that’s been far from the case this season as Utah has suffered some laughable losses at home.
Part of that can be explained quite simply – the Jazz have played poorly on their home floor. End of story. They haven’t brought enough energy and the same issues that have plagued them in all their losses have been ever present at home – lack of execution on defense, poor shot selection and numerous turnovers.
But beyond that, Utah’s odd schedule has been made even stranger by how offset their home games have been. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to say that, for the most part, Utah’s home games haven’t even felt like home games. Instead, they’ve been little more than another stop on the way of what’s felt almost like endless travel for the Jazz.
24 games in, the Jazz have had just two home stands – one of three games and one of just two in a row. Beyond that, they’ve had single home games three times already this year. Each of those has been a loss.
And two of those three have come in the midst of what’s been an overwhelmingly long trip for the Jazz. So long that the Jazz haven’t played consecutive home games since November 7th and 9th. That’s 12 consecutive games without any sort of home stand. Even the two home games they had during that stretch were unfavorable schedule-wise. One came on the second night of a back-to-back and the other involved travel in the day before and travel out immediately after.
In other words, in some ways, of late it’s felt like the Jazz have been on a 12-game road trip. Sure, there’s been two games at Vivint Smart Home Arena during that time, but the Jazz have had no semblance of enjoying the comforts of home whatsoever.
When looking at things that way, does it make a little more sense why we’d see a bit of inconsistency? A bit of discombobulation? Does it lend more explanation to how the team would struggle to win close games or sometimes appear to be outworked?
Yes, I know that we shouldn’t make these kind of excuses for a team of professionals. And they’re not about to play the martyr on the tough hand they’ve been dealt. But the fact of the matter is that these things truly have an impact. Travelling wears the body out, even when there aren’t 48 minutes of basketball every other night or so. Having to play to their fullest capacity then immediately travel to the next destination for so many nights straight certainly takes its toll.
In other words, Utah’s home games haven’t even felt like home games so far this season. That doesn’t mean the 2-6 start isn’t awful (it’s really, really bad) but I’m willing to give the Jazz the chance to turn things around once they actually get some true home stands under their belt.
Unfortunately, that’s not set to happen for a while. Utah does have a pair of games in a row this upcoming week – Tuesday against San Antonio and Thursday against Houston – but from there, they’ll have seven straight games, including two more “single home games” before their next home stand. That one will be four home games straight from December 22 to 29th. That will be the longest of the season up to this point, and much needed.
Between this week’s two-game stand and those four games in a row, I think we’ll get a much clearer picture of how the Jazz will actually fare at home. Perhaps they’ll still struggle. I certainly hope not, but it’s of course plausible. But until we get more of a reliable sample size on how the Jazz can play when they’re truly defending home court, not just stopping in for a brief visit, we can’t pass judgement too harshly.
Next: Utah Jazz: Why Donovan Mitchell kind of, sort of has unfair expectations as a 3-point shooter
Yes, the Jazz need to be better, especially on their home court. But all things considered, their start on the road is extremely encouraging. And if their play at home can follow suit once the schedule stops being so ridiculous, they’ll be in great shape.
No one’s excited about the 11-13 start, but now is no time to give up on a Utah Jazz team that still has so much to offer this season in spite of the disappointing early-going.

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