FanPost

Countdown to the Playoffs

With only 37 days until the end of the regular season the Nuggets are in the midst of the playoff hunt in which very few things are certain. After the jump, I attempted to break down what the rest of the season looks like for the 10 teams involved.

Order is done by current standings in the West:

1. OKC (0 games back)

OKC should have very little problem holding onto the number 1 spot moving into the playoffs. Amongst teams in the hunt, they have the 3rd hardest schedule the rest of the way including 3 potential Finals Matchups (2 against the Heat and 1 against the Bulls). They also play several teams that are still fighting for positioning including the Clippers 3 times, the Lakers twice, and Memphis once. As hard as it may sound, it may behoove the Nuggets to hope the Thunder with all six of these games as it may seriously help their standing in the West.

Average Opp Win% - .540
Home games - 10
Away Games - 10
B2B - 4
B2B2B - 0

2. San Antonio (3.5 games back)

The Spurs are sitting fairly comfortably in the 2nd seed 3.5 games behind the Thunder and 2.5 games ahead of the Lakers. There strength of schedule is the easiest moving forward, but they also play the most games (22), have 6 back to backs and 2 back to back to backs. However, out of any team in the league, the Spurs are one of the best at managing minutes and their B2B2B's aren't horrendous like the Nugget's was. Their first is Dallas, at NO, and Philly, then at GS, at LAL and at Sacramento. I would expect that barring any catastrophe, they will end up with the 2nd seed in the West.

Average Opp Win% - .478
Home games - 11
Away Games - 11
B2B - 6
B2B2B -2

3. LA Lakers (6 games back)

The Lakers are fantastic at home and not so great on the road. They have 20 games left, 11 at home and 9 on the road. Their schedule is the 4th most difficult out of the 10 teams in the hunt. They only have 4 B2B's so I would expect the Lakers to maintain their spot unless another team gets very hot. Adding Sessions should help them out but I'm not 100% sold that its a game changer.

Average Opp Win% - .513
Home games - 11
Away Games - 9
B2B - 4
B2B2B - 0

4. LA Clippers (7.5 game back)

The Clippers are another team that struggles with inconsistency, specifically from everybody not name Blake Griffin or Chris Paul. The addition of Nick Young should help alleviate this, but he's not exactly Mr. Consistent either. Since Chancey went down to injury, they have been struggling to maintain a .500 record and in my opinion, might make the best match up for the Nuggets in the playoffs.

Average Opp Win% - .499
Home games - 10
Away Games - 11
B2B - 6
B2B2B -0

5. Dallas (7.5 games back)

Dallas started slow, had some ups and down and appear to be coming on strong of late. Dirk has regained his championship form and their defense has surprisingly improved with the absence of Tyson Chandler. They have the most difficult schedule of the 10 teams, but are tied for the fewest amount of games to play. They do have 6 back to backs left and several big games against OKC, Miami, and Chicago. It's difficult to place how they will end the season, but I'm personally hoping we finish ahead of them.

Average Opp Win% - .557
Home games - 8
Away Games - 11
B2B - 6
B2B2B - 0

6. Memphis (8 games back)

Memphis was thought to be out of the running when Z-Bo went down earlier in the year. After some initial struggles they've come on as a team that nobody really wants to play, especially now that Z-Bo is back. they have the second easiest schedule the rest of the way but have 22 games (tied for the most) with 7 back to backs and a fairly difficult B2B2B (at OKC, GS, at Dallas) in early April.

Average Opp Win% - .481
Home games - 10
Away Games - 12
B2B - 7
B2B2B -1

7. Denver (9 games back)

What can I say that hasn't already been said? Ups and Downs. World beaters and Stiffs. Never know what team will be on the court. Luckily we have one of the easier schedules down the stretch. We'll see how it plays out.

Average Opp Win% - .496
Home games - 7
Away Games - 13
B2B - 5
B2B2B -0

8. Houston (9.5 games back)

A bit of a surprise in my opinion, but Houston seems to always be in the midst of the last few playoff spots. With Kyle Lowry out for a long time with an infection, who knows how they will end up. The last playoff spot will probably be a dogfight.

Average Opp Win% - .557
Home games - 10
Away Games - 9
B2B - 6
B2B2B -0

9. Utah (10 games back)

Another surprise team that people thought would not be very good this year. After an initial good start, they have floundered a bit and have flirted with .500 ball every since. They have a fairly easy schedule with 11 out of 20 games on the road. They have a lot of interior talent but not a lot of talent on the wings. A small run by Utah or Houston faltering could propel them into the 8th seed.

Average Opp Win% - .498
Home games - 9
Away Games - 11
B2B - 5
B2B2B -0

10. Phoenix (11 games back)

One of the more feel good stories of the year so far is the Steve Nash led Suns making a final push towards the playoffs. They've played great ball of late, but I fear that it may be coming to a close. They play 12 of their last 20 games on the road and have a really difficult schedule ahead of them. I expect them to falter and fall out of the playoff hunt.

Average Opp Win% - .546
Home games - 8
Away Games - 12
B2B - 6
B2B2B -0

There are a lot of games between these 10 teams between now and the end of the regular season. For tie breakers, Dallas, Memphis, San Antonio, and OKC have it against us. We are down in the season series against the Clippers (1-2 w/ 1 to play at home) and the Lakers (1-2 w/ 1 to play on the road). We are tied with Houston in the season series with a game on the road and at home left.

Whew. Hope that essentially covers everything. I am hoping for a matchup with the Clippers though I have no idea how that is going to happen. But with this condensed season, who knows? Who do you want to match up with? Or would you rather not make the post season and hope against hope for a lottery pick?

Write respectfully of your SB Nation community and yourself.

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