For the first time since the 2012/2013 NBA season, the Denver Nuggets have tallied 50+ wins in the NBA regular season. They have even been competing with the most dominant team of this decade, the Golden State Warriors, for the top spot in the West. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, the chances of being the top-seed and receiving home-court advantage was likely diminished after they lost to Golden State on Tuesday. So what is the easiest way they can win the NBA Championship as the 2nd seed?
It all comes down now to who gets the last 2 playoff spots.
Currently the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs are battling for the 7th and 8th seeds in this years playoffs. The Spurs hold the tie-breaker over the Thunder as they have beaten them twice and lost once. The Spurs remaining 3 games are all versus teams that are not going to make the playoffs this year. The Thunder, however, have 3 of their last 4 games against teams in playoff position, including the red-hot Rockets, and the Milwaukee Bucks who have the best record in the NBA currently.
Knowing this information, the Spurs have the more likely chance at earning the 7th seed. This would mean they would face the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA playoffs. This season, they have split their matchups with each team winning two games. This would also mean that the Warriors would face-off with the Thunder in the first round. The Warriors would have home court advantage, and they have beat the Thunder 2 out of the 3 times they played this season. This would mean the Nuggets would have to compete with the Rockets and the Warriors for the Finals, which would be really difficult.
However, if the Thunder were able to retain their current position as the 7th seed, they would face the Nuggets. The Nuggets swept the season series against the Thunder winning all 4 times against them this season. The Spurs would then face the Warriors. The Spurs have met the Warriors 3 times this season with the Spurs winning 2 out of those 3 times. The Rockets are another major threat in the West for any team. If they retained their current position, they would be playing the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers hold a 2 out of 3 game advantage this season over the Rockets. If the Clippers and/or the Spurs were able to knock off one of the top teams, it could pave the way for Denver to get to the NBA finals.
Even if both the Warriors and Rockets still win the first round, the Nuggets are still a really good team this year (there’s a reason they’re second in the West). Although they have only one 1 out of 4 against both the Rockets and the Warriors this season, who knows if momentum can carry them? If they have a strong opening round against the Thunder, who they haven’t struggled with all season, the momentum could swing in their favor against the Rockets in the next round (especially since Denver would receive home-court advantage). They might still have to face the Warriors, but who knows what could happen?
While there are many possible scenarios, and the one mentioned is all hypothetical, this is primed to be one of the better NBA Playoffs in recent years. Any of the teams in the West can knock the Warriors off their perch. I believe the Nuggets could be one of those contenders.
But in the end, we shall have to wait and see…