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NBA Snapshot — Wednesday March 27

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Will the real MVP please stand up?

NBA: Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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.


Standings Update

  • In the NBA game of the night, the Houston Rockets dropped a game to the Milwaukee Bucks on the road, with James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo having an anticlimactic battle between MVP candidates. Still, this Rockets loss was a massive step in Denver claiming a top 2 seed in the playoffs. The Blazers and Rockets can now reach a maximum of just 55 wins this season, and with the injury to Jusuf Nurkic and a couple of potential losses remaining on the calendar for Houston, it’s difficult to envision Denver falling out of the top 2 now as long as they take care of business.
  • The current playoff opponent in the first round is Oklahoma City. This is sure to jump around a number of times, but with as many games as the Los Angeles Clippers have won and the easy schedule of the Utah Jazz, it’s very possible that Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and co. will be heading to Mile High in mid April during the first round.
  • Some separation is finally occurring in the bottom half of the playoff bracket as Oklahoma City continues its free fall and San Antonio dropped an overtime contest on the road in Charlotte. Those teams don’t appear nearly as dangerous as they once did, while the Clippers just keep rolling.

FiveThirtyEight projects the playoff order as follows:

  1. Golden State: 58-24
  2. Denver: 55-27
  3. Houston: 52-30
  4. Portland: 51-31
  5. Utah: 50-32
  6. San Antonio: 48-34 (will likely own tiebreaker over LAC and OKC due to head-to-head record)
  7. Los Angeles: 48-34
  8. Oklahoma City: 48-34

Updated magic number scenarios for the Nuggets are as follows:

  • Home court advantage in the first round = 3 combined Nuggets wins and Jazz losses
  • Home court in the first and second rounds = 5 combined Nuggets wins and Rockets losses
  • Top seed in the Western Conference = 10 combined Nuggets wins and Warriors losses

Games to watch Wednesday night

Portland Trail Blazers vs Chicago Bulls — 6:00 pm MST

Who to root for: I still maintain that the Nuggets should root for the Blazers to win. They will definitely drop a game here or there without Nurkic in the lineup for the rest of the year, but staying ahead of Houston would be a great help for Denver.

Golden State Warriors vs Memphis Grizzlies — 6:00 pm MST

Who to root for: Memphis. The Grizzlies have pulled off some major upsets in the past couple of weeks, first winning against the Rockets in overtime and then defeating the Thunder most recently. Hopefully, they go for the trifecta and take down the Warriors.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Indiana Pacers — 6:00 pm MST

Who to root for: Indiana. If the Nuggets are to face the Thunder in the first round, the best thing to happen would be to demoralize them as much as possible before the end of the year.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Utah Jazz — 8:30 pm MST

Who to root for: Utah. Right now, the Jazz are in position to stay away from the Nuggets in the first round but potentially be a second round opponent. That’s the perfect storm, as the Nuggets would have confidence and home court advantage heading into a series against an opponent that can be defeated.