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NBA Snapshot — Saturday March 30

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Taking a look at the games on Saturday.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-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

  • Look who’s all tied up again...the Warriors and Nuggets are still locked in step, and from here on out, a random win or loss could change whether each team earns the 1 seed. Right now, the Nuggets are more likely to drop below the 2 seed than claim the 1 seed in my estimation. Both Portland and Houston have weak schedules to make that a reality. The Nuggets control their own destiny though. Their magic number if they win against the Warriors on April 2nd is just 7, and after that game, it would reduce down to 5. That means that if the Nuggets win every game from here on out, they will be the top seed in the West.
  • The Warriors have two tough games left on their schedule, including one against the Nuggets, and five easy games. They have been prone to apathy and dropping easy games late in the season, and they would have to do so again if the Nuggets want a real chance to be the top dog. I doubt Denver can (or should) win every remaining game.
  • Right now, San Antonio is the team the Nuggets are lined up to face in the playoffs, but I don’t expect that to be their matchup. With six games remaining, I expect the Spurs to go 5-1 to close the season, with all five wins coming against under .500 teams and the loss coming from the Nuggets, as the Spurs will be on a back to back at altitude.

FiveThirtyEight projects the playoff order as follows:

  1. Golden State: 57-25
  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 = 2 combined Nuggets wins and Jazz losses
  • Home court in the first and second rounds = 4 combined Nuggets wins and Rockets + Blazers losses
  • Top seed in the Western Conference = 7 combined Nuggets wins and Warriors losses with tiebreaker, 8 without out tiebreaker

Games to watch Thursday night

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Los Angeles Clippers — 1:30 pm MST

Who to root for: Cleveland, but there’s absolutely no way the Cavs are winning this game. A 12:30 local time start with L.A. nightlife in play versus a tanking team? The Clippers won this when the schedule came out.

Sacramento Kings vs Houston Rockets — 4:00 pm MST

Who to root for: Sacramento. Again, another difficult ask for a Sacramento team on the brink of elimination, but the Rockets have very few games they can lose on their remaining schedule. The Kings and Rockets play again in Sacramento in a couple of days. If the Kings won either of these two matchups, Nuggets fans should rejoice.

Portland Trail Blazers vs Detroit Pistons — 5:00 pm MST

Who to root for: Portland. The Nuggets can control their own destiny for the 2 seed as they have the tiebreaker. All Denver must do is win four total games and they are in the money — just three actually if one of those matchups was against these Blazers. I’d be far more worried about the Rockets, especially with Jusuf Nurkic out.