After a stellar start to the season in which Utah held the NBA’s best record and was the first team to reach 10 wins, the Jazz had a bad run. They have lost three in a row following a wild east coast road trip and a rough start to the season overall.
Through Nov. 15, the Jazz have played 16 games (most in the NBA), including 10 on the road (tied for the most in the league). They’ve already played four straight games (tied for most in the league), all of which have come in different cities (most in the NBA). In fact, their last nine games have all been in different cities.
“It’s a grind,” Kelly Olynyk said after Utah’s comeback earlier this week. “We were exhausted at the end of that trip to Philadelphia, and then we came back, and you come back at 6 a.m. EST. You know what I mean?”
To make matters even more difficult outside of the trip, it’s not like Utah’s opponents are missing – Eleven of their opponents made at least the qualifying tournaments last season.
The Jazz have eight games to play in November, including four on the road. They will face Phoenix and LA twice, have back-to-back series and road games at Golden State and Portland.
“Our sleep was a bit ruined,” veteran point guard Mike Conley said. “Coming to places very late, three, four in the morning, and coming back here at four in the morning. … It weighs on you, whether you think about it or not.”
It’s as brutal as a season opener has been seen for a very long time — which is why Utah’s start to the year should be praised rather than questioned.
Very few expected the Jazz to be in the position they are in now, sitting 10-6 and fourth in the Western Conference.
They rank in the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating, a feat achieved by only four other teams. They lead the NBA in bench scoring with 44.3 points per game, ranking in the top six in three-pointers made, offensive rebounds, assists and steals per game.
These stats explain why the Jazz refuse to press the panic button on their recent three-game losing streak.
“It’s not like we’re going through this three-game losing streak, like, ‘Damn, we had no chance at any game, and we have to go back to the drawing board and tear everything else up’, you know ?” Olynyk said. “We’re still here, still competing. … When we’re playing well and we’re playing together and we’re doing what we did first, whatever it is, the games, we’re a good basketball team. .”
“That’s what good teams do. They try to figure it out on the spot. … Don’t wait for the coach, don’t wait for the next day or the next game,” Conley added. “We understand there are some things we need to clean up, but you’re going to hit spells like this. … We’re going to play good teams, we’re going to lose tough games.”
Instead of resetting, head coach Will Hardy preaches reloading.
The Jazz woke up Wednesday and didn’t play Thursday — just the second time they had more than one day between games all season.
They spent a light workout in the morning on Wednesday before meeting at the Primary Children’s Hospital in the afternoon to spend time with the children and their families.
They had Thursday free to do what they wanted; relax with the family, discover the snow in Park City or explore the new environment for the 10 new players on the list.
Regardless of what happened the past two days during stoppage time in the last three games on the court, Utah isn’t freaking out. The Jazz know what they have to do and will be ready when the time comes.
“It feels so good,” Hardy said of being home. “It’s not just the physical recharge, but the mental and emotional recharge. So that people can be at home with their families in their own space. … No matter how nice the hotel is, living in a suitcase can become For people, just being in their own bed and in their own space is great These two days the biggest goal for us as a group is to recharge.