March was supposed to be “the big test” for the new-look Nuggets and yet they finished the month impressively with 10 wins against just three losses (all on the road). Now comes April which – I swear! – will test the mettle of this team.

Remember all those days off our Nuggets were blessed with during March?

Well, now it's time to pay the piper, so to speak.

Beginning Friday, April 1st, the Nuggets will play six games in nine days, including two pairs of back-to-backs. And among those six opponents includes dates with the Lakers at Staples Center, the Thunder at Oklahoma City and once in Denver, and a back-to-back at Dallas.

Entering Thursday night’s action, the Lakers, Mavericks and Thunder were the Western Conference’s hottest teams not named the Nuggets. We and the rest of those who follow the NBA have been justifiably focused on the Nuggets sudden post-Melo greatness, but our Nuggets may not even be the hottest team in their own conference! The Lakers have now won 16 of 17 post-All-Star break games (plus they have that whole “defending champ” thing going for them). The Mavericks had won five straight before getting smoked out of Staples Center by the Lakers Thursday night. And the Thunder have somehow managed to be the hottest team in their own division, winning nine of their last 10. The bottom line is these are a trio of tough, tough teams.

And, of course, while the Nuggets have been able to beat all three of these Western powers at some point this season, they did it while #15 was here. Now it’s time to see how the new-look Nuggets size up against the NBA’s true elite – i.e. not a Spurs team missing Tim Duncan or a thinned-out Celtics team reeling from a big trade.

Speaking of Celtics trades, the under-the-radar big trade no one talks about is the Thunder’s acquisition of former Celtic Kendrick Perkins in exchange for Jeff Green. With Perkins in the lineup, the Thunder have won eight of nine games, including their last five straight. So when the Nuggets and Thunder inevitably collide in the playoffs’ first round, we’ll be watching the two biggest beneficiaries of the trade deadline going head-to-head. And with the Nuggets and Thunder playing twice next week, it’s as if the two teams will be engaged in a best-of-nine as opposed to a best-of-seven. I can’t wait!

But before seeing our future playoff opponent up-close, the Nuggets must first deal with the Kings at Sacramento (who gave the Nuggets fits in Denver on Wednesday night) and the dreaded Lakers at Los Angeles. In theory the Nuggets have shown that they can beat anybody. But does “anybody” include the Lakers, Thunder and Mavericks?

A week from now we'll find out.

The Links…

NUGGETS: Nuggets march through one of toughest months on schedule
Aaron Lopez points out that the Nuggets have had 24 consecutive winning months. 24 consecutive winning months!! That's one hell of a streak that should be commended.

Former NBA ref charged with attacking Dominique Wilkins – The Denver Post
My favorite all-time non-Nugget beat the living crap out of a former NBA referee who attacked The Human Highlight Film after Wednesday’s Hawks game. When I had the privilege of meeting ‘Nique a few weeks ago he told me the players in “his day” were much tougher than they are now. He wasn’t kidding.

Knicks are now Carmelo Anthony’s team as Amar’e Stoudemire seems worn down by long season
And after beating the Magic (who kind of suck on the road) and the Nets (who really suck), the New York media is back to kissing Carmelo Anthony‘s ass.

NBA At 2: Play Ball! (In Sacramento) – Basketball News & NBA Rumors –
Bill Ingram catches up with J.R. Smith about the Denver Nuggets‘ unlikely success.