The Nuggets are currently at 41-21, a game behind of the 43-21 Mavericks, who are on a 11-game winning streak. We are also a game ahead of the 40-22 Jazz. In other words, the standings right now are pretty darn close. If the Nuggets want to come out as the 2nd seed, they are going to have to sweep the next six games, which are...
Sunday at home versus Portland
The Blazers will have ample rest, and have found some success playing at a faster pace than normal (they finished last in the league in pace last season, and were pretty close to last up until a few weeks ago).
They are a very tough team, and now that everybody is getting healthy they seem poised for a playoff push, and a win in Denver would be a huge confidence-booster for them. To beat the Blazers, it is instrumental to get out to an early lead, but more importantly, to hang onto that. Since Kenyon Martin is definitely out for today, I could foresee George Karl putting Joey Graham on LMA to rough him up. If the Nuggets can do this, and control Nicolas Batum, they should be fine, as Andre Miller isn't as good as he used to be and Camby is the master at pretending to play defense.
The next game will be an easy roadie on Wednesday against the Wolves. If the Nuggets lose this, I might rip apart my shirt the same way Darko Milicic (who's getting a consistent 15-20 minutes per game in Minnesota) ripped apart his jersey:
Or like how Darko went all berserk with his language here (caution: subtitles extremely NSFW):
Moving on...the dreaded 4 games in 5 nights bullcrap goes on from March 12 to March 16. The opponents are @New Orleans, @Memphis, @Houston, and at home vs. Washington. They aren't difficult, but it will be extremely difficult to win all four. If the Nuggets want to win all 4 of these (and all 6 in this 9-day stretch), then they need to focus hard and blow out New Orleans by the 3rd quarter so that the starters can have a good deal of rest. That should get the starters enough energy through the third quarter of the Memphis game, and I'd like to see J.R. step up there to give the rest of the Nuggets a burst of energy. The Grizzlies are on the second night of a back-to-back, so they'll be tired too. The Houston one is the most difficult of the bunch, primarily because they have arguably the league's best coach in Rick Adelman (yes, I just said that).
Generals Wizards Bullets Wizards! game should be the easiest, but the Nuggets will be tired like crap and again, we will need J.R. and Ty Lawson to step up (he should be back by then, as shoulder injuries usually don't last that long unless a ligament was torn). However, Washington will be on the second night of a back-to-back.
I personally can see the Nuggets going 6-0, but a lack of focus for even one quarter will push it to 5-1. The Mavericks have only four games from March 7 until March 17, and their opponents are Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Chicago. So I see 4-0 for them. The Jazz have a 4-game road trip at Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and OKC, as well as home dates against Washington and Minnesota in that stretch. I see 4-2 for them.
In other words, that means that if the Nuggets go 6-0, they'll be tied with the Mavs. If they go 5-1, then they'll still be a game behind. Go 4-2 and we are looking at a bit of a hole...
As for the poll...try not to be too biased in the Nuggets' favor.