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.
- With the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, and Utah Jazz all achieving some expected wins last night, not a lot changed from yesterday to today. This didn’t exactly help Denver, but it didn’t hurt them either. At this point, it’s unlikely the Nuggets will grab the top seed in the West, but with the way things seem to be falling, the Blazers have a real opportunity to grab the 3 seed. As long as the Nuggets take care of their own business, fans shouldn’t worry.
- The Jazz have started to separate from the Thunder and the Spurs, and I wouldn’t expect them to fall back to the pack any time soon. With just two games left against playoff teams including one against the Nuggets, I’d expect the Jazz to sit in the 5 seed, possibly the 4 seed, for the rest of the year.
- The Spurs and Thunder jockeying for position to face the Nuggets at the end of the year will be interesting. I haven’t written off the Clippers as a first round opponent, but Nuggets fans should start thinking about the positives and negatives of facing San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the first round.
FiveThirtyEight projects the playoff order as follows:
- Golden State: 58-24
- Denver: 55-27
- Houston: 52-30
- Portland: 51-31
- Utah: 50-32
- Oklahoma City: 49-33
- San Antonio: 48-34 (will likely own tiebreaker over LAC due to head-to-head record)
- Los Angeles: 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 + Blazers losses
- Top seed in the Western Conference = 10 combined Nuggets wins and Warriors losses
Games to watch Thursday night
Denver Nuggets vs Houston Rockets — 6:00 pm MST
Who to root for: The good guys. This could be the game of the season so far with the most playoff ramifications. If the Nuggets win, it becomes extremely unlikely for the Rockets to finish ahead of them. The Blazers still could, but I don’t expect Portland to hold up over the rest of the season without Jusuf Nurkic.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Milwaukee Bucks — 6:00 pm MST
Who to root for: Milwaukee. The Clippers have proven to be dangerous, but the Nuggets match up with them extremely well. I’m almost certain Denver would prefer facing Los Angeles, a team starting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Ivica Zubac, over the Thunder or Spurs with more playoff experience.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs San Antonio Spurs — 6:30 pm MST
Who to root for: San Antonio. If the Clippers are going to fall to where the Nuggets can play them, a team has trade places in the standings. The Spurs are the most likely. The only playoff team they face to close the year is this Nuggets group on the second night of a back to back. That’s probably a loss for the Spurs, but they should be favored in every other game.