With a 120-106 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, combined with a Lakers’ overtime win at the Staples Center, the Denver Nuggets are only a half game out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race behind the Golden State Warriors.
As I predicted in Denver News: Nuggets Still Have A Chance, Denver has made a late-season run and are in prime position to make the cut. Golden State’s next set of five games is no picnic as they play Portland, Denver, Dallas, San Antonio, and Dallas again.
Obviously they’ll have their hands full with each team, but the key game will be against Denver—a game where Don Nelson's team must travel to the Pepsi Center where Denver holds a fantastic home record of 28-7.
Its significance is off the charts. With a victory, either team can walk away with the season series and a whole game above the loser in the playoff race.
Denver’s next five games are against Phoenix twice, Dallas, Golden State, and Sacramento.
Denver should steamroll through these games. They will go against a Dirk-less Mavs squad, a Suns team that is just now finding themselves and are only 13-9 since acquiring Shaq, a Golden State team that blew a 72-49 lead Sunday against the Lakers and are deeply inconsistent and capable of meltdowns or fireworks on any given night, and a Sacramento club who has gone 4-6 on their last 10 games and hasn't beat Denver all year.
Furthermore, George Karl's team has won three straight games in which all were against playoff bound teams (except the Memphis Grizzlies).
After the March 29 showdown against the Warriors, Denver goes to Oracle Arena for its last road trip of the season to battle Golden State for the last time.
That game will be monumental depending on the records of both teams heading into that contest.
Currently both Denver and Golden State have tied the season series at one game apiece. This is important because if both teams are deadlocked at the end of the seasons' play, the eighth seed will be awarded to the winner of the season series.
If they manage to come up tied after that, then playoff spot will be given to the team that has a better record against the Western Conference.
As of now that is Denver 24-17 versus Golden State 22-17. They are also only three games back of division leader Utah.