The Nuggets are bobbing in and out of playoff contention. With their huge win today their chances firm . They sit at 7th in the West one game clear of 8th placed Houston and one game clear of facing the ferocious Thunder in Round 1. Denver has 6 games in 11 days before the playoffs begin, only 1 game against the East, so each game will be critical.
April 16 @ Houston
The Nuggets spanked the Rockets in Denver today by 15 points after leading by as many as 20 points. Faried dropped a double-double and is emerging as another great draft pick from the post-Anthony era. The Rockets don’t have anyone who matches up against his big body as well as an OKC or San Antonio. It’ll be a tight hard fought game but the Nuggets should eek out a win.
April 18 vs Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers lead the season series 2-1 and this is a crucial game for both teams. The Clippers will want to come to Denver and pick up a win away from home heading into the playoffs just to keep pace with the Lakers. Denver needs to protect home court. Paul could run wild and slice this Denver defence to shreds, even though he is only 26 he commands the Clipper offense like a veteran. Denver cant afford to drop a game against a Western conference opponent here.
April 21 @ Phoenix
This game could be Phoenix’s last shot at a playoff birth, the Nuggets will need to weather the intensity and aggression that the Sun’s will throw at them. It will likely be the 2nd last time Nash suits up in Phoenix Sun’s purple and Orange so expect the crowd to be all over the Nuggets. This is a danger game as the Sun’s always trouble the Nuggets (Denver leads this season 2-0) pushing them both times this season . Hopefully Lawson and Afflalo can keep Nash in check just long enough to minimise his impact, if not the Nuggets will be in for a tough night.
April 22 vs Orlando
Denver managed to eek out a win in Orlando in January and as we go live the Orlando are only 2 wins ahead of the Nuggets in the East. Any magic that Orlando conjure up is coming through D-12, and the Nuggets have always managed to keep him locked down whenever they have played, due to their big bodied centres and forward, Faried will be in for a hell of a night. Hopefully Harrington can put a body on Howard and draw some of the attention away from Faried. I expect the Nuggets to let this game slip after 2 big games against the Clippers & Suns.
April 25 @ Oklahoma City
There’s a chance the Nuggets could play the Thunder in the 1st round. I think they try to send a message – run and gun. Denver is the best fast-break team in the league scoring 19.6 points per game this season. Lawson & Afflalo push the pace and Gallo is killer from 3-point range. This is the best strategy because the Nuggets don’t match up so well against the Thunder. KD is too big and athletic for any Denver defender, Westbrook is quicker then lighting down the lane and Chandler, McGee and Faried just aren’t skilful enough to contain his explosive speed and power. It would help them out a lot if OKC began resting players for this game and Denver could steal a win.
April 26 @ Minnesota
Last regular season game of the year and its against a division rival. These teams played 5 days ago and Love was knocked out by a wild elbow from McGee which sent him flying. This will be the T’Wolves last game of the season and expect them to come out swinging. Their front line is beastly, Williams, Love and Johnson should cause lots of problems for the Nuggets front 3 (if they are playing). Look for Chris Andersen to get some game time in his last game as a Nugget and more than likely do something stupid like trip JJ Barea (Barea is a bulldog). I can see Minnesota ripping this one from the Nuggets as they end the season on a high. Denver will hopefully rest some of its starters for this one.
Gazing into the crystal ball it looks like the Nuggets will finish either side of 37-25 which should get them a 7th seed in the West avoiding the Thunder and sending them to face Patty Mills, Tony Parker, Manu and Tim Duncan in San Antonio.