“If this is foreplay, I’m a dead man”
-Jack Bonner (Steve Guttenberg), Cocoon
I’m still a teensy bit angry my high school wouldn’t let me make that my senior yearbook quote. I was told I would regret it later, when I matured. Either I’ve not changed my mind, or have not matured. Or possibly both. Geez. Funny what we hold on to.
A little like I’ve semi-secretly held onto the fact that the Denver Nuggets last playoff appearance occurred a few months prior to me joining Denver Stiffs, and they’ve never made it to the postseason since. I’ve quietly taken that a little personally in my vein of magical thinking, and now the Nuggets have me more than a little excited to have their playoff future squarely in their own hands. How excited? Let’s just say I’d prefer to avoid standing and doing any math equations at the chalkboard right now. Seriously, if this is foreplay, I might actually be a dead man come playoff time.
But before the Nuggets and I dance to some Marvin Gaye, there’s more pressing matters at hand in the form of four games that must be had. Denver won’t absolutely be out of the playoffs if they lose some of those games, as there are other teams within shouting distance who could fall off a cliff over their last few contests, but the only sure way to get in is to win, and win them all. Does that give the team pause about the magnitude of the task at hand? You wouldn’t know it by looking at this trio of quotes from the Denver Post:
“We can’t worry about what other teams are doing. We’ve just got to keep winning.”
“We’re in a great spot because we control our own destiny. We don’t have to rely on all these other people. What a great feeling with four games to go knowing you control your own destiny. That’s how we approach it.”
“If we win, everything will take care of itself. Everybody in this locker room can smell (the playoffs) — and they want it.”
The first of the four games is some home cooking, with the Timberwolves headed to the Pepsi Center tonight. The Nuggets owe Minnesota a little payback from a pair of tough losses earlier this season, with a common thread between them. The first of those stumbles came here at home after a dozen-point deficit in the fourth quarter (32-20) left them with an eight point loss from the meltdown.
The game a week later in Minnesota had the Nuggets picking up where they’d left off, with a dozen-point deficit in the first quarter, which left them scrambling the rest of the game. The Nuggets were able to scrape back and tie the game at the end, only to lose the overtime period by three. Denver will need to avoid those types of lapses to pick up either or both of their games left against the Timberwolves. More on that in a sec.
The Nuggets then head my way to take on the Clippers on Saturday afternoon (*also the date of the last Stiffs Night Out, see below) in another contest against a team they have yet to beat this season. The Clippers and Nuggets are currently running neck and neck outside the eight seed, and Los Angeles has a slightly easier route to the end, facing the Jazz, Nuggets, and Pelicans before wrapping up with the Lakers next Wednesday.
Denver heads back home for a Monday night game against the Northwest-leading Trail Blazers, who have been red-hot the last few weeks, and many Nuggets fans were hoping might have clinched the three seed by the time we meet. Those hopes might be delayed by an injury to Damian Lillard, reported yesterday:
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is day-to-day with left ankle injury and is expected to miss Thursday's game in Houston, league sources tell Yahoo.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 4, 2018
Portland has a tough path upcoming as well, with the Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets, and Jazz wrapping up their season.
The cherry on top of this four-play is a last-game trip to play Minnesota once more, and where the Nuggets hope to still have a lot left to play for. The Timberwolves remaining games have the Lakers and Grizzlies sandwiched between the Nuggets contests. Currently sitting at the seven seed, Minnesota could win the Memphis and Los Angeles games, lose to the Nuggets twice, and still not get in. They’ll be playing with all they’ve got, and star Jimmy Butler is pushing to make a return from injury to help his team.
We’ve got a lot to play for in the four-play, Nuggets Nation. Denver has already ensured it’s first winning season in five tries, and now seems to be ready to take a crack at taking it to the next level. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. We’ll know the ending of the story by next Wednesday. Four more to go.
Let’s get it on.
Four games left, Nuggets go:
This poll is closed
*Don’t miss Denver Stiffs’ last Stiffs Night Out, during the Clippers game! They’re always a blast, and there’s nothing quite like spending some time with Nuggets Nation. More info here.