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Are the Playoffs a Sure Thing?

I had planned to write a post today detailing how there was a good chance the Nuggets would miss the playoffs and as a result of that the team we would see next season would probably be drastically different than the team they have today.  

There were concerns that Stan Kronke would not pay the price to keep the Nuggets together as constructed for this season, but he did.  You better believe that if they failed to make the playoffs he was not going to foot an $80 million payroll and $13 million in luxury tax to trot the same group out again next season.  

However, the Nuggets completely missing the playoffs is about as relevant a topic as whether women should wear pants instead of skirts or if Communism is an effective form of government.

How can I be so sure?

There are reports out of Houston that Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, winners of 12 straight games, will miss the rest of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot.  With Yao out Golden State and Denver ought to be able to pass Houston in the standings.  

As of today the Nuggets are three games back of Houston.  Even with Denver’s brutal upcoming schedule the Nuggets should put Houston in their rear view mirror by the end of the season.  Of course last year Yao missed 31 straight games with a knee injury and the Rockets went 20-11 in those games so this may not be as sure a thing as it seems.  Houston does have a much easier closing schedule than the Nuggets do so maybe I am jumping the gun on this Nuggets making the playoffs post.

The injury to Yao does not really change anything for Denver other than to greatly reduce the chances of the Nuggets being in the lottery instead of the playoffs.  Before the Yao injury I did not see any way the Nuggets could get any higher than eighth in the conference.  Well, now seventh is within their grasp, but that still means a first round matchup with the Lakers, Phoenix or San Antonio.

We all know how any of those series will end.

Will Kronke be any happier with a quick first round exit than he would with a ninth place finish?  

Will you?

I still have a feeling this team will be drastically different next season, but that post will have to wait for another day.