Donovan Mitchell and Quin Snyder during Utah’s win over Dallas. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — With their 120-105 win over Portland on Wednesday, the Utah Jazz pushed their season-best road winning streak to eight games.
The Jazz are proving to be among the best road teams in the league. They have a 12-3 record away from Salt Lake City and a league-best plus-12.0 net rating on the road. But during their current road winning streak, the Jazz have also lost four games at home in, to be frank, quite confounding fashion.
They lost on last-second (or near-last-second) shots against the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, and then followed a four-game road trip sweep with back-to-back losses at home to subpar opponents.
So what gives?
“Well, it’s not that we don’t like playing at home and it’s not our fans, so you can eliminate those two things,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
To be fair, Utah has been far from awful at Vivint Arena. The Jazz are 13-6 and if you take away the two last-second losses, the road vs. home narrative probably doesn’t exist.
Utah, after all, has the third best net rating in home games of plus-9.1; that’s still really, really good. The two teams they are looking up at, though, are the same teams that are also ahead of them in the Western Conference Standings: Golden State and Phoenix.
The Suns have been three games better than the Jazz at home; the Warriors have been four. Without some home woes, the Jazz would be right where they were last year — holding the best record in the NBA. To Snyder, it’s more of a coincidence than anything.
“I think the record sometimes is deceiving because you may play games at home or on the road when your team’s playing well, or when you’re not playing as well,” Snyder said. “We lost a couple of close games at home that I felt should not have been close — we lost them on the last possession— so there’s two right there where we really weren’t playing good basketball, and it showed.”
Rudy Gobert, though, said there might be something to the narrative after all. He admitted road games felt more like a “mission” the team could fully focus on together.
“We fly together, we stay at the same hotel together and then we get to the game,” Gobert said. “Maybe sometimes when we are home, we get a little more distracted and we’re not as good.”
Gobert said the team has looked fresher on the road this season — a stark contrast to how things normally are throughout the league.
That said, Gobert made it quite clear that he didn’t know the actual reason for the discrepancy between the home and road records, and the narrative is about to be heavily challenged.
The Jazz will get a couple tough games at home this weekend — the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday and then the top-seeded Warriors on Saturday — before heading out for a travel-heavy month. In January, Utah will play 11 of its 16 games on the road. When the schedule came out, that looked like a daunting task.
Now, it begs this question: Could it actually be a good thing?
“We’re gonna find out if we can continue to be as effective,” Snyder said.