George Karl’s Denver Nuggets (37-22) fought through a tough opening schedule to claim the Western Conference’s fifth seed heading into March. They’ll be in a position to improve upon that standing down the stretch and grab home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Fourteen of the Denver Nuggets’ final 23 games this regular season will take place inside the confines of their home Pepsi Center. Denver is 24-3 at home in 2012-13, losing by a total of 13 points to the Miami Heat (98-93 on Nov. 15), Minnesota Timberwolves (101-97 on Jan. 3) and Washington Wizards (112-108 on Jan. 18).
They’ve defeated their remaining matchups by an average of 7.7 points. The Nuggets can give anybody fits in the Rockies, but Karl’s bunch has been sub-.500 on the road (13-19). Fortunately, they have just nine games left to play away from home and are two-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for fourth place in the west.
Their upcoming road foes are the Sacramento Kings (Mar. 5), Phoenix Suns (Mar. 11), Chicago Bulls (Mar. 18), Oklahoma City Thunder (Mar. 19), New Orleans Hornets (Mar. 25), San Antonio Spurs (Mar. 27), Utah Jazz (Apr. 3), Dallas Mavericks (Apr. 12) and Milwaukee Bucks (Apr. 15).
Denver has two pairs of consecutive road games remaining. One of those is a back-to-back in Chicago and Oklahoma City. The other is against the Hornets and Spurs—with one day off in between—as two-thirds of its three road contests in four games toward the beginning of April.
The Nuggets will have five days between hosting the Brooklyn Nets on Mar. 29 and visiting Utah on Apr. 3. The occupants of their remaining destinations have a combined .599 home winning percentage. Erase the 26-4 Thunder and 22-3 Spurs—the top two overall teams in the conference—and that number drops to .523.
At least a couple of road wins should befall the Nuggets’ before mid-April. Denver will also play at least two consecutive games at home five more times before the postseason begins.
With multiple games separating the current No. 4 and No. 5 seeds from the No. 3 and No. 6 spots, Memphis will most likely be the Nuggets’ first-round opponent. What’s still up in the air is the team that gets the four scheduled home games in the series.
The two teams split their meetings in Memphis; Denver defeated the Grizzlies at home once and they will meet again in the Pepsi Center more than a month before the playoffs start.
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