SALT LAKE CITY -- Since Thanksgiving weekend, the Utah Jazz have played a schedule loaded with more games than gramdma's Jell-o salad has mini marshmallows.
And while that may sound delicious, it actually brought on some heartburn in the form of a 14-16 record during that stretch.
A look at Utah's 2012-13 schedule reveals the Jazz, who'll play host to the Miami Heat tonight at EnergySolutions Arena, played 27 games in 51 days.
Rounded up, that works out to one game every two days.
But don't worry, Jazz fans, sweet relief is in sight. Beginning today, coach Tyrone Corbin's guys start a much lighter stint in which they'll play just seven games over the next 18 days.
Rounded up, that works out to one game every three days.
Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward said recently he felt like it was the 2011-12 season all over again. He was referring to last season's lockout-shortened schedule, which crammed 66 games between the end December and the middle of April.
"I was talking to someone about this earlier and they asked me if (the schedule) feels back to normal," he said. "I told them no, it feels like we've been playing a lot of games recently."
But Hayward also pointed out there's a break waiting.
There's Miami tonight, then four days off before a home game with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. After that it's three more days off followed by a home game with the lowly Washington Wizards, a brief trip to Los Angeles to play the Lakers, then back home against the Pacers (Jan. 26), the Rockets (Jan. 28) and Hornets (Jan. 30).
"It's been a difficult schedule for us but we're professionals, that's what we've got to do," Hayward said.
Of course nobody on the Jazz (20-19) thinks tonight's game is a vacation. On the contrary, the Heat (24-11) have the best record in the Eastern Conference and, oh yeah, they're the defending champs.
But Miami, led by LeBron James (25.9 points per game) and Dwyane Wade (20.4), isn't an iron fortress, especially away from home where the Heat are 8-8 this season.
They're coming off a victory at Sacramento on Saturday, but before that they dropped two in a row including a nationally-televised defeat by ex-Weber Sate star Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.
In its last 10 games heading into tonight, Miami is just 5-5.
But the Heat already have one win over the Jazz this season. They beat them Dec. 22 in Miami, when James scored 30 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists.
The Jazz went 2-1 on their recent road trip, which included a 90-87 win Saturday night at Detroit.
Utah is 5-2 this month despite being without starting point guard Mo Williams (thumb surgery) and small forward Marvin Williams (left knee tendinitis), who has missed the last three games.
"They're a little beat up, but you know what? This is a resilient group of guys with high character and they're not going to look for excuses," Corbin said. "We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to fight every night we step out there."