We could stay on the road, but we’d be on the road for three extra days, so we elected to go home to get re-acclimated. —Quin Snyder
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz players and coaches slept in their own beds last night. And the night before as well. They’ll also be at home with their families on Monday night.
So what’s going on? Aren’t the Jazz back East in the midst of a 12-day road trip?
Well, it’s true they have just started their six-game road trip over a nearly two week period, playing in Milwaukee Saturday night. However, because of a scheduling quirk, the Jazz find themselves back in Utah for a few days before heading back East for the remainder of their trip.
Utah’s next game will be Wednesday in Chicago following its Saturday night loss in Milwaukee, which dropped its record to 13-14. It would have made sense for the Jazz to make the 90-mile trip from Milwaukee to Chicago if they were playing the game Sunday or tonight. But rather than spend three extra nights in Chicago, they decided it made more sense to fly home directly after the game in Milwaukee.
“We could stay on the road, but we’d be on the road for three extra days, so we elected to go home to get re-acclimated,” said coach Quin Snyder. That's one of the advantages modern teams have, thanks to chartered flights that leave directly after the games.
Snyder talked about the “algorithms” the NBA schedule-maker must deal with in putting together the complicated 82-game schedule for each team. He acknowledged it doesn’t always make sense, pointing to an earlier Jazz trip that sent them from New York to Orlando and back to Philadelphia.
“I’m sure those things are factored in the algorithm and they don’t always turn out the way you want,” he said.
The NBA schedule was revamped this season by starting two weeks earlier in an effort to limit the number of back-to-back games teams must play, which should keep teams from resting players as much. However, with fewer back-to-backs, many teams are playing more one-game road trips, of which the Jazz had two last week, to Oklahoma City and Milwaukee. Those were the fourth and fifth one-game road trips east of Salt Lake for the Jazz so far this year.
The road trips are obviously longer for Western teams as the Jazz had a three-hour flight to Milwaukee and a two-hour-plus flight to Oklahoma City.
Other coaches in the NBA, such as the Lakers’ Luke Walton, have complained about the increase of longer road trips. The Lakers, like other West Coast teams, have even more of a disadvantage when going East than the Jazz.
“All road games are tough in the league,” Walton said. “You prefer not to have to fly two times zones in three hours to do it for one game. I’ve talked to other coaches. They’re not happy with them either. Obviously the NBA’s not trying to do anything that’s bad for the players. It’s something new they tried.”
Snyder didn’t grumble like Walton, taking a more pragmatic approach to the one-game trips to the East.
“I would prefer it not be the case, I just don’t know,” he said. “There’s different challenges in the whole thing. We just all have to adjust.”
Rudy Gobert shrugged it off too, saying, “It’s the NBA. We never get an easy schedule. There’s going to be games we have to do what we have to do and just be ready to play.”
The Jazz have six more one-game road trips left this season, but only one — on April 1 to Minnesota — is east of Salt Lake.
After playing the Bulls Wednesday night at the United Center, the Jazz play at Boston Friday night before backtracking to Cleveland for a game Saturday night. Then it’s down to Texas to play Houston for the third time this season on Monday and up to Oklahoma City Wednesday night.