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NBA Snapshot — Friday March 29

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Houston winning yesterday complicates matters.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-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

  • The Nuggets losing to the Rockets accomplished a number of things last night. First, it brought the two teams back within three games of each other, four in the loss column. Second, the Rockets earned the tiebreaker over the Nuggets, meaning that if the two teams tie at the end of the year, the Rockets will move ahead. Third, the Rockets officially put them mental clamps on the Nuggets. If those two teams meet in a playoff series, it’s over in five games or less.
  • Because of that loss, there’s a bit of urgency for the Nuggets heading into the final eight games of the year. If the Blazers or Rockets win out, the Nuggets must win five of their final eight games to stay ahead. That’s a tough ask for a team that plays the Thunder tonight, the Warriors, the Blazers, and the Jazz...and those are just the road games.

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. Oklahoma City: 49-33
  7. San Antonio: 48-34 (will likely own tiebreaker over LAC due to head-to-head record)
  8. 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

Portland Trail Blazers vs Atlanta Hawks — 5:30 pm MST

Who to root for: Portland. The Nuggets control their own destiny against the Blazers with two games at the end of the year. At this point, the best path for Denver is to win as many of their own games as possible and at least one of the final games against Portland, who must stay ahead of the Rockets in the standings if the Nuggets want to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Denver Nuggets vs Oklahoma City Thunder — 6:00 pm MST

Who to root for: The good guys. Dropping last night’s contest highlighted the importance of winning this one. Denver is now fighting for the right to home court in the first two rounds. Winning against the Thunder would be a great place to start.

Golden State Warriors at Minnesota Timberwolves — 6:00 pm MST

Who to root for: Minnesota. It’s almost a prayer at this point, but if the Nuggets still want a chance at the top seed, the Warriors have to lose tonight.

Washington Wizards vs Utah Jazz — 7:00 pm MST

Who to root for: Washington. It’s time for the Nuggets to clinch home court advantage in the first round. The Wizards likely have no chance against the Jazz, but if ever there was a time to surprise, it would be tonight.