After re-reading my recap of last night's disappointing loss, I realized that I need to put the Nuggets season - which isn't over yet - into some perspective. First off, we won 53 games. 53 games! That's the second-best record in Nuggets franchise history and only one game off Nuggstramadus' prediction from two months ago. Second, we finish with the home court advantage-ready fourth seed IF the Suns beat the Jazz tonight. And as I'll outline below, ending up fourth could land us back in the Western Conference Finals and possibly the NBA Finals.
And thus, we must root for Phoenix tonight. Here's why...
2) Among the other seven teams in the Western Conference playoffs, only the Suns and Spurs give the Nuggets fits. Avoiding them in the playoffs at all costs gives the Nuggets an outside shot at getting to the NBA Finals. If the Suns win tonight, neither they nor the Spurs could play the Nuggets until a potential conference finals matchup.
3) Perhaps not-so-obvious, the Nuggets play with no fear against four Western Conference teams: the Lakers, Jazz, Blazers and Thunder. So again, if the Suns win tonight, the Nuggets will get home court advantage against the Jazz - a team we beat handily three times (including once at Utah without Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups) and almost beat a fourth time (again at Utah without Melo and Chauncey).
4) The Lakers will beat the Thunder in the first round, but it won't be a cakewalk. Moreover, the Lakers are playing their worst basketball of the season right now and are vulnerable. I'm sensing 2002-03 Lakers here - worn down, tired and in-fighting after consecutive years of championship appearances. After beating the Thunder, a weary Lakers team could lose to a confident and resurgent Nuggets team in the second round...especially if George Karl is back on the bench!
Per all the reasons noted above, finishing with a fourth-seed wouldn't be so bad for our Nuggets. So let's root hard for Phoenix to beat Utah tonight, as unlikely as that might be to happen.