Utah Jazz game previews between October 24 and October 30, including games against: Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers.
Basketball is back in Salt Lake City! The Jazz will be taking on the Trail Blazers in the season opener, kicking off a season that has many fans in Utah setting their hopes high. A lukewarm 3-3 preseason as some suggesting the hype has built unrealistic expectations, while others argue that the preseason isn't meaningful enough to suddenly cast expectations into doubt. If ever there was an antidote for such dilemmas, it was a little bit of regular season basketball.
While it's been known that Gordon Hayward will be missing the first month or so with injury, there has been a lot of uncertainty around Derrick Favors' prognosis to start the season. A little bit of clarity came into the picture with Favors returning to practice on Sunday, though only in non-contact drills. It seems unlikely to think that he will be able to kick things off tonight against Portland, but merits checking back in to see if any more reports come out regarding his progress throughout the week.
Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 at 10:00 PM ET Away
The Jazz will start their season on the road against Portland. The matchup is a satisfying narrative fit for the Jazz, who are looking to succeed the Blazers as the NBA's newest Western Conference trouble maker. For Portland, this season is all about proving that what happened last season was no fluke, so starting the year off with a victory over one of the most hyped teams in the non-contender weight class would help set the tone.
The Blazers ended the preseason with a 4-3 record, with two of those wins coming against the Jazz. The Jazz were only able to take one game out of four in this series last season, so they'll be looking to at very least even things out this year. This is a team that bolstered its wing depth in the offseason by adding Evan Turner, and it will be interesting to see how this team adjusts to having a ball-dominant wing fitting into the mix alongside two of the more dynamic scoring guards in the league.
Prediction: Portland by 6. It should be a good race between these teams over the course of the season, but the Jazz will be without two of their best players on the road.
Los Angeles Lakers
Friday, 28 October 2016 at 09:00 PM ET Home
The Jazz will face the Lakers in a very winnable home opener on Friday. Utah will be looking to build on its 3-1 record over Los Angeles from last season after neither team faced each other in the preseason.
The Lakers ended the preseason with a miserable 2-6 record that seems to be in line with what is expected of them in the coming year. There is a lot of turnover on this Lakers roster, the most notable being the obvious and unfamiliar absence of Kobe Bryant. New to Los Angeles will be number two overall draft pick Brandon Ingram, who will be coming off the bench behind free agent signee Luol Deng. Timofey Mozgov was the other big addition for this team in free agency, and he should start as well. New head coach Luke Walton, formerly of the Golden State Warriors, will be at the helm for the Lakers this season.
Prediction: Jazz by 10. The Lakers should be very bad, and Utah will be at home in front of a crowd that can't wait for Jazz basketball.
Los Angeles Clippers
Sunday, 30 October 2016 at 04:30 PM ET Away
The final Jazz game of opening week will be in a matinee showdown against the Los Angeles Clippers, who are looking to finally join the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference contenders conversation now that the Oklahoma City Thunder have left something of a void in it after losing Kevin Durant (don't tell Russell Westbrook I said so).
This game will be a home opener for the Clippers, who lost to the Jazz twice in the preseason en route to a 3-3 record. There isn't much to speak of regarding new faces in Los Angeles, as the Clippers bring back largely the same core that they've built their foundation on for several years now. Bench additions such as Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton are looking to shore up the backup unit that struggled so mightily to support what may have actually been the league's best starting five from a year ago (though, that is unfortunately a title that the Clippers crew is unlikely to hold again this year).
Prediction: Clippers by 8. The Jazz will still be missing Hayward and very possibly Favors as well, while a team gunning for the conference finals will be opening up in front of its home crowd.