by Daniel Olsen |
The Jazz won all their road games and lost the home games to end the calendar year of 2020. However, New Year’s Day brought a new Jazz in an impressive home win against the red-hot Clippers. Now, the Jazz go on the daunting seven-game road trip featuring two back-to-back matchups. This is all happening in just ten days! How will they fare in each game? We will make our picks now.
January 3: Remember the Alamo
The Jazz always seem to struggle in San Antonio and it might be easy for history to repeat itself even without fans. Recently Spurs assistant Becky Hammon made history for being the first woman to act as head coach in an NBA game. Although she lost, she was only outscored by a point since taking over for Coach Gregg Popovich who was ejected in the second quarter. Had they had her in the whole game, who knows? They might have beaten the Lakers.
If Popovich can stay in the whole game, I think the Jazz can maintain the groove they found. However, it will be tough since he is good at breaking down the obvious weaknesses the Jazz have shown on film. If he and especially Hammon can come up with a plan to slow the game down, I like their chances. My heart says we find a way to win by a point but my head says Spurs by seven.
Score Prediction: Spurs 108 Jazz 101
January 5: Nothing but Nets
The Brooklyn Nets haven’t been this good in a long time. With KD, Uncle Drew and a solid crew, they look to be the favorites in the East. It would be a very Utah thing to lose to a fringe playoff team in the Spurs and then go beat one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. That’s exactly what I expect to happen. This is the game where Donovan Mitchell finally breaks out for a high-scoring performance. Behind a 30 point performance near his old stomping grounds, I expect Mitchell and the Jazz to win this one in a shootout.
Score prediction: Jazz 121 Nets 117
January 6: I’ve messing with this team for decades
If you watched the new Soul movie on Disney Plus then you’ll get the reference. Pixar is taking shots at the Knicks and I fully expect the Jazz to do so too even on the second night of a back to back. If they can beat the Clippers the night after losing to the Suns then why would the Knicks be any problem? My only fear is it might be a letdown playing an inferior opponent the night after playing a great one. I’m guessing the Jazz will either sweep or be swept in the Big Apple road trip. I hope it’s the prior and the Jazz sweep their way from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way to Madison Square Garden.
Score Prediction: Jazz 118 Knicks 104
January 8: Merrill hosts his hometown team
This might be the letdown game. The Bucks are still trying to find their stride as they currently have a 3-3 record. However, they have won both games at home by a combined 69 points. Those are nice wins.
Look for the Bucks to make the first punch. If the Jazz don’t punch back immediately, look for the knockout. I’m predicting the Jazz might not see this coming so if you see a Jazz player, be sure to let them know. Either way, Aggie fans will be hoping the score isn’t close and Sam Merrill can get some valuable minutes late in the game. We hope it’s a blowout in favor of the Jazz but that’s a difficult wish to grant.
Score Prediction: Jazz 101 Bucks 118
January 10: The Piston Cup
Lightning McQueen might not be suiting up for Detroit, but a guy who could probably still dunk over a car might be. The Jazz have had some close games in Detroit in recent past. However, they have a day off which should allow them to make the short trip from Milwaukee to get some rest before they take on the struggling Pistons.
The Pistons struggled in 2020, going winless in their first four games of the season. That didn’t deter them so as they, like the Jazz, started the New Year off right with a win on January 1. They defeated the Boston Celtics in a 96-93 nail biter. Look for them to fight and claw against the Jazz. This is a game where defense will be critical. If the Jazz can defend it will create easy buckets on the other end like it did in the win against the Clippers.
Score Prediction: Jazz 99 Pistons 96
January 12: Cavs and Cav nots
The Jazz haven’t had much trouble with the Cavs since LeBron left. They almost always beat him in the friendly confines of Vivint Arena. Now that the Jazz are good and the Cavs are young and promising, it should be a Jazz win. It may be a rough week for the whole state of Ohio if The Ohio State Buckeyes lose to Alabama in the College National Championship the night prior. The Jazz should score early and often in this game.
Score Prediction: Jazz 110 Cavs 99
January 13: Jazz School of Basketball Wizardry
The Washington Wizards may have Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal but there is not magic potion or pill to help them beat the Jazz. If they win it will only be because the Jazz are on the second night of a back to back. This is one game I fear the Jazz could lose if they aren’t careful. In honor of the Wizard theme I will post the Harry Potter style O.W.L grades depending on how many games the Jazz win on this road trip.
Score Prediction: Jazz 113 Wizards 107
Jazz road trip O.W.L pass grades:
Outstanding: 6-7 wins
Exceeds expectations: 5 wins
Acceptable: 4 wins
Poor: 3 wins
Dreadful: 2 wins
Troll: 0-1 wins
Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images