January Schedule Look Ahead

December 28th, 2015 | by Lucas Falk
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

There are still a few games left in the month of December, but January is right around the corner so it’s time to take a peek at next month’s schedule.

vs Memphis (1/2)

The Jazz beat the Grizzlies in their first meeting back on November 7th, but that seems like a distant memory. The Grizzlies have since moved Zach Randolph to the bench and the move has improved their play. Marc Gasol has been playing extremely well as of late, posting 17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the month of December. Without Gobert and possibly Favors (back spasms), the Jazz are going to have a tough time matching up with Memphis’ bigs.

Prediction: Grizzlies win

vs Houston (1/4)

As of December 27th, the Rockets are fourth in the league in points per game and Utah’s defense has had some issues playing defense as of late with a defensive rating of 108.4 in the month of December. Harden and co. shouldn’t have a problem getting buckets.

Prediction: Rockets win

@ San Antonio (1/6)

The last time the Jazz played in San Antonio it was a blood bath and this one shouldn’t be very different. The Spurs are legitimate title contenders who are playing outstanding basketball this year. Kawhi Leonard is becoming a star, LaMarcus Aldridge is settling into his role and Tony Parker is redeeming himself from a forgettable EuroBasket this past summer.

Prediction: Spurs win

@ Houston (1/7)

See notes from the 1/4 game.

Prediction: Rockets win

vs Miami (1/9)

The Heat are rolling thanks to their stingy defense. Miami is sporting a defensive rating of 98.4 and getting enough from their offense to put them in the thick of the Eastern conference playoff hunt. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are carrying this team, especially while Goran Dragic continues to struggle. If Dragic can snap out of his slump, the Heat will be even more dangerous.

Prediction: Heat win

@ Los Angeles Lakers (1/10)

The Lakers rank near the bottom of every statistical category in the NBA. Even a team as injury plagued as the Jazz should and must beat this Lakers team. Hayward should be able to have his way with any of the Lakers wing players and Favors will be the best post player on the court by far. The Jazz simply cannot afford to lose to this team, even if it’s just for pride.

Prediction: Jazz win

@ Portland (1/13)

The Blazers recently snapped a five game losing skid by absolutely trouncing the Cleveland Cavaliers. Portland lives and dies by their guard play and as Utah’s bench continues to thin out, it’ll be tough to contain Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Prediction: Blazers win

vs Sacramento (1/14)

My boldest prediction of this entire piece is that this is the game when Rudy Gobert will return from injury. Okay, so maybe that’s wishful thinking, but even if Gobert doesn’t suit up, I like the Jazz in this one. Utah played extremely flat when these two teams last played. I’d imagine Quin Snyder won’t let that happen again. The Kings will be in the second night of a back-to-back so fatigue could play a factor.

Prediction: Jazz win

vs Los Angeles Lakers (1/16)

See notes from 1/10 game.

Prediction: Jazz win

@ Charlotte (1/18)

You’ve got to hand it to Hornets head coach Steve Clifford, Charlotte is playing solid basketball. The Hornets are currently ranked in the top 15 of points, rebounds, assists and opponents points per game. Nicolas Batum has rebounded from a poor season a year ago and even Jeremy Lin and his hair are making some noise.

Prediction: Hornets win

@ New York (1/20)

The Knicks are far from an offensive juggernaut and so Utah’s defense should handle whatever New York throws at it. The loss of Burks and the hopeful return of Gobert, will force the Jazz to slow up the offense and grind it out more. With fewer possessions and New York’s offensive struggles, I like Utah in this one.

Prediction: Jazz win

@ Brooklyn (1/22)

The Nets are having a terrible year and to make matters worse, their pick goes to the Boston Celtics no matter where it lands. Joe Johnson is no longer the player he once was and their bench makes Utah’s look like Golden State’s bench. The Jazz take this one easily.

Prediction: Jazz win

@ Washington (1/23)

By this time, the Wizards should have Bradley Beal back and healthy. With the duo of John Wall and Beal, Washington’s guards, much like Portland’s, prove to be too much for the Jazz. Washington will increase the pace and make it hard for the Jazz to consistently grind it out.

Prediction: Wizards win

vs Detroit (1/25)

Andre. Drummond. The big man is close to averaging 20 points and 20 rebounds per game. Even if Gobert is back in the lineup, his minutes will be limited and so Drummond can go to work on Jeff Withey more often. Reggie Jackson is scoring the ball well and he’ll put plenty of pressure on Raul Neto.

Prediction: Pistons win

vs Charlotte (1/27)

See notes from 1/18 game.

Prediction: Hornets win

vs Minnesota (1/29)

Let’s end this on a high note. The Wolves are an athletic team filled with potential, but not yet ready to threaten teams on a nightly basis. Look for Favors to have a big game against the young Karl Anthony Towns. Jazz finish off January by avoiding a four game losing streak.

Prediction: Jazz win

January record: 6-10

So much of Utah’s future success is dependent on health. Alec Burks is lost for the entire month of January and then some, while Rudy Gobert’s return in still yet to be determined. More pressure will fall on the shoulders of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood, who also has had previous injury-ridden stretches. If those three can step up and carry the load, the Jazz still have a shot. If they crack under the pressure, the playoffs won’t be a possibility.

Lucas Falk
Lucas Falk is a basketball junkie from Salt Lake City. Lucas is an alumnus of both Olympus High School and the University of Utah, where he earned a degree in Economics. Lucas is also a proponent of doing a reboot to the film "White Men Can't Jump." He can be found on Twitter @Lucaswfalk.
Lucas Falk
Lucas Falk

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5 Comments

  1. Matt C says:

    What is interesting to me is the jazz could still be 8th in the west after going 6-10 in January. Who would have thought?????

    • Lucas Falk says:

      A weakened West gives the Jazz a shot, but they certainly need some things to bounce their way. Hood’s outside shot needs to start falling and Favors needs to get back on the court as soon as possible.

  2. Diggin' It says:

    I bet the Jazz can beat Miami at home, and Portland on the road. Miami’s lineup looks good on paper, but they are good, not great. Their defense is really good, but if the Jazz get 100% from Booker, Lyles, Withey, and a dominant night from Favors, and the typical night from Hayward, they can steal this one.

    If the Jazz dictate the pace of the Portland game, they can make it tough for McCollum and Lillard. They also got to control the boards. Al-Farouq Aminu is a good rebounding wing. Expose Portland’s weaknesses, while utilizing their own strengths.

    Going 8-8 through January would put them at 21-24, and they can make a 2nd-half surge like last year. Trey Lyles will click, Raul Neto will stay aggressive and crafty, Gobert will be back, so the defense will be good. If the Jazz team has everybody (except Dante) at full strength in the 1st round of the playoffs, they could make a couple close games in the series.

  3. derek says:

    So random thought, sign boozer for the rest season. Hear me out, added scoring off the bench and insurance for when the front office finally trades booker. If he could even average what he did last year in LA then he would be a huge offensive improvement over any back up big we have, plus everyone could wear their old boozer jerseys again

  4. Greg says:

    I really think that if we can get Favors back in the next couple games, really hopefully tonight against Portland then I would not predict a 6-10 January. If he can come back and keep the back good then he adds so much that they jazz are needing right now and allows Withey to play off the bench and Booker as well. He does a lot for this team. Then if we can also get Gobert back halfway through the month I could see us turning the tide and making it a 10-6 month instead, and if they get the win tonight against Portland that would put them at 24-23. Pretty good record I would say before heading to the All-Star Break. My guess is that Burks is back after the All-star break although I know he wants to get back quicker.

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