With the first game of the 2012-13 season only a few hours away, it’s time to go on record with predictions. This season we’ll be using a clever breakdown by Geoff Beckstrom (@vegasstats) that shows what games are must-win for the Jazz to finish with a certain number of wins. We’ll check in with Geoff every ten games for a progress update and a preview of the next ten.
Here’s how it works:
The Jazz play every team in the Eastern Conference twice–once at home and once on the road. They play every team in the Western Conference four times, except the Lakers, San Antonio, Dallas, and Golden State, which they only play three times (indicated by black boxes in the chart below). The chart shows the games the Jazz must win in order to finish the season with at least 45 wins (indicated in yellow). Historically, the 8th seed in the West must win at least 46 games to qualify for the playoffs. Geoff breaks down which games the Jazz will have to win to stay on pace to beat that mark.
Here’s Geoff’s explanation of his chart:
Every year I look at the Jazz schedule and create a table to show what it would take for the Jazz to win XX number of games. You can view this years schedule and table here.
In the Google Doc, the Overview tab shows all the games the Jazz will play this season. The games highlighted in yellow are expected (re: must) win games to finish a season with 45 wins. The five games marked with green are games that are required to finish with 50 wins, and the five blue games are required for a 55 win season. Any game without highlighting is an expected loss.
Obviously the Jazz will lose yellow highlighted games and will win some of the games with no highlighting. The big question is whether there will be more unexpected losses or more unexpected wins. For every yellow-highlighted game the Jazz lose, they will have to make that up by winning an unexpected non-highlighted (or green or blue highlighted) game to stay on a 45-win pace.
The Jazz will need to win 50 games to assure a play off position and likely 55 games to be in contention for a top 4 seed and home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
During the season I will look at the Jazz schedule 10 games at a time with some highlights and predictions.
First 10 Games:
A) The Jazz open at home vs. Dallas, who surprised many with a strong win in LA last night against the Lakers. Dallas will be traveling East (losing an hour) and playing back-to-back. Some could argue Dallas will be at an advantage having played a real game before the Jazz, but the real issue here is that Dallas is without Dirk Nowitzki who has been a one man Jazz wrecking crew. The Jazz should win this game, which is a must-win for the 45-win pace.
B) @New Orleans: Both teams will be on a day’s rest. New Orleans will be improved – the question is how improved? The Jazz will likely be favored and this is listed as a must-win for a 45-win pace. The Jazz did not do well vs. New Orleans last year and this will be the kind of game people will look back on as a bad loss if they do lose.
C) @San Antonio: Back-to-Back for Utah, day of rest for Spurs. This is not a winnable game. This will be a measuring stick game.
D) @Memphis: Day of rest for Utah, 2 days rest for Memphis. This is not an expected win. Another measuring stick.
E) Lakers: Day of rest for Utah, 2 days rest for LA. Will Kobe be close to 100%? Not an expected win, but it’s a home game and it’s the Lakers.
F) @Denver: Day of rest for both teams. This will be a big game. The first swing game. To get to 55 wins the Jazz would expect to get a win in Denver, who is a division rival and a playoff position rival.
G) Phoenix: Both teams on back-to-back, Jazz from Denver, Phoenix flying in from Cleveland. This is a must-win, particularly with the difficulty of the schedule.
H) @Toronto: Both teams on one day of rest. Need to beat non-playoff teams from the East on the road to make the playoffs.
I) @Boston: Both teams on one day of rest. Game 2 of a 4-game road trip for Utah. Not an expected win.
J) @Philadelphia: Both teams on one day of rest. Game 3 of 4 on a Utah road trip. Swing game. Not a must-win, but these are the games the Jazz need to win to get to 50 wins.
This is a tough opening stretch. 7 of 10 on the road and 7/10 vs playoff teams. The Jazz could play well and still go 3-7. The 45-win projection would have them at 4-6 and anything better than 4-6 would put this team in a good position. If the Jazz start slowly, I have no doubt fans (and possibly national media types if they are paying any attention) will call for Coach Corbin to change the starting lineup specifically, putting in either Enes Kanter or Derrick Favors.
But taking a long-term view, any record above 3-7 is no cause for panic. The Jazz will likely be a better team and be playing better than their record for the first 40 games. At game 39, they will have played nine more road games than home games. This will allow Utah to stay under the national radar (which fans will invariably, but unnecessarily, complain about) and sneak up on teams. It will also create, for those interested, good betting value and opportunities on specific Jazz games.
My initial prediction for the first 10 games is 5-5, which will have the Jazz one game ahead of a 45 win pace.
Here are the SCH Season Predictions for the 2012-13 Utah Jazz:
Spencer Hall: 48 wins, 6th in the West
Add your predictions in the comments.