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NBA Snapshot Series: February 24, 2020

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The West playoff picture with a Nuggets focus

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Snapshot series was created as a playoff check-in for Denver Nuggets fans. Every game matters as the regular season comes to a close and the playoff bracket constantly changes. These posts will help inform Nuggets fans of the week’s games, providing an update on the standings and which teams to root for from game to game.

Standings Update

  • With two wins compared to Denver’s one win and one loss this weekend, the Los Angeles Lakers gained a game in the standings on the rest of the Western Conference. They have six fewer losses than second place in the West, and with just 27 games to go, it would take a surprising drop for the Lakers to not claim the top seed in the conference.
  • The Nuggets are slated to play the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. The Mavericks may look pedestrian, but they are 29-14 in games Doncic plays legitimate minutes. That’s a higher win percentage (67.4% of games) than all teams in the West but the Lakers and Nuggets. They are a very good team with a talented superstar at the helm, and fans should proceed with caution before assuming the Nuggets would dominate that series. It would be a battle.
  • The Rockets and Jazz swapped places in the standings after Houston waltzed into Utah and won by double digits. The Jazz are in a bad place right now, and things are falling apart for them as Mike Conley struggles to find his place in the pecking order. I would be far more confident for the Nuggets in a playoff series with the Jazz than I would be with the Mavericks.
  • Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans have entered the arena.

Projected Playoff Order, via FiveThirtyEight

  1. Los Angeles Lakers: 61-21
  2. Denver Nuggets: 55-27
  3. Los Angeles Clippers: 55-27
  4. Houston Rockets: 55-27
  5. Utah Jazz: 52-30
  6. Dallas Mavericks: 49-33
  7. Oklahoma City Thunder: 49-33
  8. New Orleans Pelicans: 41-41

*Updated playoff scenarios as related to Magic Numbers will be introduced on Monday, March 16th, roughly one month until the end of the 2019-20 regular season

Most important games to watch during the week:

(all times are designated mountain timezone)

Monday

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers: Monday, February 24th @ 8:30pm

Quietly, the Clippers have lost three games in a row and are 6-6 in their last 12 games. They aren’t playing at an elite level right now, having lost to the Sacramento Kings twice, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Minnesota Timberwolves during that stretch. This feels like a game Memphis could steal.

Tuesday

Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets: Tuesday, February 25th @ 7:00pm

Of course you have to watch the Nuggets, even if it’s against the clearly tanking Detroit Pistons. Nikola Jokic should feast in this game once again, and don’t be surprised if Michael Porter Jr. gets it going that day.

New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers: Tuesday, February 25th @ 8:00pm

This could be a preview of the first seed versus eighth seed in the first round, but more importantly, the Pelicans are good and could definitely upset the Lakers in this one. Zion Williamson is on a roll, while Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will return to Staples Center. If they aren’t up for that game, I will be surprised.

Wednesday

Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz: Wednesday, February 26th @ 8:00pm

Gordon Hayward returns to Utah, and while this game doesn’t truly affect the Nuggets, it will be wildly entertaining and could result in another home loss for the Jazz. If they drop that one, there’s a good chance they will be flirting with the six or seven seed.

Thursday

Nothing major. Plan your evenings accordingly.