Take a look at the upcoming schedule for the Jazz. The next ten days will determine what the Jazz will be fighting for come April. On one hand, they could be fighting for the 8 spot in the playoffs and TCG will be debating the merits of tanking for the lottery or fighting the good fight just to be in the big NBA dance. On the other hand, the Jazz could potentially be looking at homecourt advantage in the first round and TCG will feature articles about who is more like Satan, Kobe or Tim Duncan. The margin for error in the Western Conference is very slim, but to even have a chance of moving up the standings, the Jazz need to take care of some Eastern business next week.
First things first: the Jazz have the Rockets at home tonight and the Nuggets at home on Friday. Those are no-brainer must-wins. The Jazz are currently in the seventh spot in the West. Beating the Nuggets and Rockets won't necessarily move us up any higher, but beating them both puts us one half game out of the third spot. Beating good Western teams at home is a must, because we don't beat them on the road.
Speaking of the road, after two games at home, the Jazz head on a five-game jaunt out east. The trip includes three playoff teams (Atlanta, Orlando, Miami) and two lottery teams (Indiana and Toronto). None of those teams are world-beaters, but the Jazz can lose to absolutely anyone on the road (see, Wizards, Washington). I believe that the Jazz can earn at least a winning record, and ideally four wins on that trip. If the Jazz can do that, they are in a great position to make a nice run in the brutal last stretch of the season. However, if they limp home with a 2-3 or 1-4 record from the East, Kirilenko can start making his family vacation plans early.