The NBA Snapshot series was created as a daily check-in for Denver Nuggets fans. Every game matters as the season comes to a close, and the playoff bracket is altered constantly. These posts will help inform Nuggets fans of the day’s games, providing an update on the standings and which teams to root for from game to game.
- For the first time in a long time, the Nuggets are alone in first place atop the Western Conference. As I talked about yesterday, the Mavericks had an opportunity to upset the Golden State Warriors who were playing without Stephen Curry. Turns out, missing an MVP caliber player matters, and the Dubs lost by 35 at home. Go figure.
- Because of that, it’s very possible for the Nuggets to stay at the top of the conference, which alters the proceedings here. If Denver is to play the 8 seed, I’d bet money on it being Oklahoma City or Los Angeles at the end of the day. If the 8 seed was Utah or San Antonio, like it is right now, that would hurt Denver in the first round.
- Portland remains a half game behind Houston, but if Denver can keep the 1 seed for the rest of the year, they may try and lose those last two games at the end of the season to ensure they have the opportunity to stay away from Golden State’s side of the bracket. Whoever Portland plays in the first round could upset them, so they might as well stay as far away from the Warriors as possible, who they have lost to in the playoffs on countless occasions.
Updated magic number scenarios for the Nuggets are as follows:
- Home court advantage in the first round = 4 combined Nuggets wins and Jazz losses
- Home court in the first and second rounds = 7 combined Nuggets wins and Rockets losses
- Top seed in the Western Conference = 11 combined Nuggets wins and Warriors losses
Games to watch Sunday
Denver Nuggets at Indiana Pacers — 3:00 pm MST
Who to root for: The good guys. If the Nuggets win this one, they would complete a clean sweep on their road trip, something they haven’t done on a four game road trip in a long time. Seven straight wins is just the kind of momentum Denver needs.
Who to root for: New York. The Clippers get stuck with the super early start here. This would be a 9 am game on the west coast. It’s time for the Clippers to start losing games and fall back to the 7 or 8 seed permanently.
Houston Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans — 5:00 pm MST
Who to root for: New Orleans. It’s tempting to root for Houston if Denver truly believes they can clinch the 1 seed, but one injury to a key player and Denver could start dropping games. It’s more important for Denver to clinch a top 2 seed than game certain matchups in the second round.
Who to root for: San Antonio. Push the Clippers down. The Spurs can’t catch Denver, but the Nuggets should probably fear them in a first round matchup, though I think Denver wins it anyway.
Detroit Pistons vs Golden State Warriors — 6:30 pm MST
Who to root for: Detroit. A Nuggets win and Warriors loss would push Denver two steps closer to clinching the top seed in the playoffs. The Warriors are on a SEGABABA, and while Curry should be rested, a bad game from Golden State’s front court versus Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond is reasonable.