Yet lately, the Nuggets don't need them to. They've beaten good teams at home, on the road, on rested nights and on back to backs. Their confidence is peaking at just the right time. With 13 games left to play, it's entirely possible that if the Nuggets finish strong - say, 10-3 - they could even capture one of the top three seeds.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder seem to have lost focus. They've now lost two straight to lower-seeded teams and the Nuggets are just three away from capturing the Northwest division lead. While the Nuggets have only 13 games remaining and by far the easiest remaining schedule, the Thunder play several teams that have already beaten them at least once this season:
vs Washington - 3/27 - Somehow, Bradley Beal was able to hit a last second shot to lift the Wizards over the Thunder in their matchup on January 7th. It could happen again, right?
@ Minnesota - 3/29 - Earlier this season, the Thunder lost to a plucky Timberwolves squad led by 28 points from Kevin Love and 24 from Nikola Pekovic. While it looks more and more likely that Love will not return this season, Pekovic is still a load in the post for OKC.
vs. San Antonio - 4/4 - I don't care where we are in the season, the Spurs rarely go away quietly. They've beaten the Thunder twice this year already, and I'm sure the Spurs would love the tiebreaker to lock themselves into the 1 seed. Assuming Pop doesn't pull any shenanigans, which are entirely possible.
@ Jazz - 4/9 - EnergySolutions Arena is a nightmare on a good day despite the recent struggles of the Jazz. An improving Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter present another imposing frontcourt for the Thunder to contend with.
@ Golden State - 4/11 - Even with the occasionally awful defense, Golden State and Stephen Curry can get hot in a hurry.
Far from being sure wins for the Thunder, these remaining games seem like very real potential losses for a suddenly wobbling Oklahoma City team. That's to say nothing of their rematch with the Knicks on Sunday, April 7th -where the Knicks will surely be looking for revenge after losing by just one point to the Thunder (without Carmelo Anthony).
The Grizzlies may not be able to do the Nuggets any favors, but it's entirely possible that the Thunder will.