For here, I will discuss the three teams that the Nuggets are most likely to face in Round 1. These teams are the Spurs, the Thunder, and the Blazers. I won't go into too much depth about the Blazers because, well, 1) They are definitely my second favorite team besides the Nuggets, and, more importantly, 2) Zachm219 did this little thing on the Blazers and the Mavs a couple days ago. So here's the western conference standings as of right now, but Utah, Dallas, Portland, and the l*kers all play today, so it could change. I'm just including the teams in playoff position because Memphis has a 0.1% of making the playoffs, and all the other Western Conference teams are mathematically eliminated.
|1||x - LA Lakers||53||19||.736||-||32-5||21-14||12-2||31-12||102.4||96.6||+5.8||Lost 1||7-3|
|2||Denver||48||25||.658||5 ½||30-6||18-19||10-4||29-15||107.2||102.5||+4.7||Won 1||6-4|
|4||Utah||47||26||.644||6 ½||29-8||18-18||7-8||27-18||103.9||98.2||+5.7||Lost 1||6-4|
|6||Oklahoma City||44||27||.620||8 ½||24-12||20-15||8-3||24-19||100.3||96.7||+3.6||Won 2||7-3|
|7||San Antonio||43||28||.606||9 ½||26-11||17-17||8-5||26-18||101.2||96.5||+4.6||Won 1||7-3|
The stat that interests me the most is the Average Point Differential (DIFF). This shows the amount of points by which each team outscores the opponent on average. The Mavs have a differential of only +1.7, which is about equivalent to that of the 39-34 Miami Heat. Another thing to take into account is Average Winning Percentage of the opponent, which I didn't put up there. The Nuggets are at .495, The Jazz are at .514, the Spurs are at .509, the Suns are at .505, the Blazers are at .500, the Thunder are at .502 and the Mavericks are at .511.
In my team "scouting" after the jump, I will not include Phoenix because they have a higher chance of getting home-court advantage in the first round than falling to the 6th/7th seed and playing us.
To the jump!
The first team that I will look at are the Santonio Spurs because if the playoffs started today, we'd play them. They have been the Nuggets' demon for many years, knocking us out in the first round. However, this Nuggets team is not the same as the ones of the past, and these Spurs are getting a bit old. Tim Duncan is the same 20-10 guy that he's always been, despite how old and creepy-looking he gets.
With Tony Parker out until the playoffs, George Hill from IUPUI has filled in well, showing his range and his size against opposing point guards. According to Popovic, Parker will return to the lineup whenever he's medically cleared, which will probably be around the playoffs. Richard Jefferson has declined a lot since last season, but has seemed to find his game as of late. Manu Ginobili is, has been, and will always be a flopper (scroll down for some pictures). The Spurs' key player will be Dejuan Blair
who the Nuggets really should have drafted with the 34th pick who has been an important backup big man, especially since the Spurs' starting center spot has switched between Antonio "F*** Denver" McDyess and Matt "I'm as slow as Brad Miller" Bonner. So yeah, that's the 2009-2010 Spurs right there.
In the next picture, Manu Ginobili shows his best "Gilbert Arenas Impersonation" stance, all the while looking like an idiot:
OK, moving on...let's go to the Thunder. The Thunder are currently in the 6th seed, and are a very young team anchored by superstar Kevin Durantula. However, Russell Westbrook is a force to account for, and if you don't pay attention to him Jeff Green ain't bad either. Westbrook is averaging about 17 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds a game, and is a pretty darn good defender. Green is a 6'9" athletic small forward playing out of position at power forward. Thabo Sefoslosha reminds me of a bulkier Arron Afflalo, and James Harden is a 2010 Rookie of the Year candidate (JK). Their main weakness is interior defense. Nenad Kristic should be a backup, as he is 7'0" but isn't very bulky and is pretty slow and fits the description of a stiff. Their x-factor is not Harden, or Maynor, or Green, or Westbrook, but Serge Ibaka. He is 6'10" and 225 lbs, and is extremely energetic and athletic with a huge vertical. He's like their version of Chris Andersen, except much younger, more explosive, and more tattooless (wait, is that even a word?). Here's him dunking on Drew Gooden:
The Blazers are currently in the eighth seed, but would be a lot higher if not for a rash of injuries. As you already know, Oden and Pryzbilla are gone for the season, and Batum, Blake, Outlaw, Roy, Fernandez, Cunningham, Pendegraph, and Mills all missed a good deal of time due to their own injuries. This team is a very, very slow paced team that plays decent defense and efficient offense (although their ppg doesn't show it because they play so damn slowly). Unlike what Zachm219 said, the Blazers are a better three-point shooting team than many people accredit them for. Martell Webster has greatly improved his long-range shooting, Batum can knock down open 3s, Fernandez lives behind the arc, and Roy is definitely no slouch at those long-range shots. However, Miller is a slasher/mid-range shooter, Bayless is their version of Ty Lawson, and Marcus Camby is very good at bricking his knuckleball 15-18 footer.