Ranking the Top 5 Denver Nuggets Games to Watch in April

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIMarch 30, 2013

Ranking the Top 5 Denver Nuggets Games to Watch in April

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    Eight contests stand between the No. 3 seed Denver Nuggets (50-24) and the 2012-13 NBA postseason.

    Three of Denver’s remaining seven opponents are currently in the Western Conference’s playoff picture. Two more—the Dallas Mavericks, who they will play twice, and the Portland Trail Blazers—are on the cusp of postseason qualification.

    Portland is 3.5 games back of the No. 8-seeded Utah Jazz; Dallas is 1.5 behind.

    There will be plenty of playoff-type competition on the Nuggets’ schedule. However, it’s their regular-season finale against a lottery-bound squad that doubles as one of the five most interesting games to watch if you’re interested in learning more about this Denver team before the first round.

5. Vs. Phoenix Suns, Apr. 17

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    The Denver Nuggets’ season-high 15-game winning streak wasn’t snapped by the Miami Heat, whom they haven’t played since November. It wasn’t stopped by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who succumbed to Denver’s momentum twice during that span.

    Instead, it was halted by the New Orleans Hornets, a 25-48 team that was without its starting point guard in Greivis Vasquez and hasn’t won a game since. The loss, of course, took place after Denver gained national attention for its streaking ways.

    The Nuggets' final regular-season matchup with the Phoenix Suns (23-50) on Apr. 17 will give them an opportunity to refrain from losing focus against a lesser opponent.

    This one could get ugly, though: While Denver is the deepest team in the NBA, Phoenix might just be hunting for ping-pong balls.

4. At Utah Jazz, Apr. 3

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    The 37-36 Utah Jazz are next up for the Denver Nuggets and will host their divisional rival in Salt Lake City for the second time this season. Utah got the best of Denver the first time around, beating the Nuggets 105-103 on Nov. 26.

    Denver blew out the Jazz at home both times that they met in the Pepsi Center, winning by an average of 19.5 points.

    Will George Karl’s squad continue its home/road tendencies or steal one from a divisional foe with its sights on the playoffs?

    We’ll find out on Apr. 3.

3. At Dallas Mavericks, Apr. 12

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    The Dallas Mavericks are the only team with two remaining matchups against the Denver Nuggets. The teams will play in Denver on Apr. 4 and in Dallas eight days later.

    Denver’s pristine home record may not be tested much by the Mavericks, who are 14-22 on the road. But for the second game, Dallas is 21-15 at home, will have the benefit of having just seen the Nuggets and should still be motivated with a chance to get into the postseason.

    The Nuggets are 17-21 on the road.

2. Vs. Houston Rockets, Apr. 6

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    James Harden and the Houston Rockets are the NBA’s fastest-paced team. George Karl’s Denver Nuggets are the second-fastest.

    In a game where both teams could—and have—ended up with 110 points in regulation, there will be plenty of buckets dropping and guys flying around.

    Apr. 6 also presents the Nuggets with an opportunity to sweep a season series with a playoff team. They’ve beaten the Rockets by an average of eight points per game in 2012-13.

    Barring a first-round upset, Denver and Houston wouldn’t see each other in the postseason with the way the seeds are currently constituted. With a highly motivated Harden potentially set to match up with his old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, in his first playoff series with the Rockets, anything could happen.

    Or Houston could snag the No. 6 seed from the Golden State Warriors and see the Nuggets in the first round.

    Denver would have a major psychological advantage over Houston in that series if the sweep is completed.

1. Vs. San Antonio Spurs, Apr. 10

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    Tim Duncan’s resurgence this season has led the San Antonio Spurs to be the only Western Conference contender with a winning record over the Denver Nuggets.

    Two nights after their 15-game winning streak was broken on Mar. 25, the Nuggets had to make their way to San Antonio, where the Spurs edged them by a point. Timmy’s crew is also responsible for the Nuggets’ worst loss, a 26-point drubbing in the AT&T Center on Nov. 17.

    Denver grabbed the six-point W at home on Dec. 18, underlining their league-best capacity for defending its court. The Nuggets are 33-3 at home; the Miami Heat are 32-3.

    Another win on Apr. 10 would even the season series with San Antonio in front of a national audience: It will be Denver’s final ESPN appearance before the playoffs.

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