The Denver Nuggets’ season is coming down to the wire

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(Graphic Illustration by Jake Dunaetz | The Collegian)

Braidon Nourse, Sports Reporter

Denver Nuggets fans, welcome to a column dedicated to the boys in midnight blue and sunshine yellow. This is a space where followers and die-hard fans of the Nuggets like myself can go for team updates and predictions as well as to indulge in the pain, pleasure and everything in between. They are the Nuggets, after all.

The Nuggets are 47-33 since April 5, which includes a key victory in the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. They did, however, lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which could complicate things as they head into the final week of the season.

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The game tipped the Nuggets versus Timberwolves season series 3-1 in Minnesota’s favor, meaning if the two teams finish off the season with the same record, the Timberwolves take the higher seed.

Going into Tuesday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, Denver needed two things to happen in order to lock up one of the two remaining unsecured top-six playoff spots: One was a win against the Spurs, and the other was a Timberwolves loss to the Washington Wizards. 

“The good news for Nuggets fans is that Denver’s magic number is one win out of their last two games.”

The Wizards took care of business, beating the Timberwolves in Minnesota by 18 points. The Nuggets, however, never had control of their game against the 10th-seeded Spurs, losing by 19 after going 7/33 from deep. 

With the downfall of both Minnesota and Denver on Tuesday, it opened the door for the Utah Jazz to secure their own playoff spot. Since the Jazz won the season series against both of these teams and can finish with no worse than the same record as both teams, they automatically stay in the playoffs while avoiding the play-in tournament.

This means after Tuesday, there is only one remaining playoff spot, and it’s down to Minnesota and Denver to decide who gets to lock up the sixth seed and watch the other fight for the seventh or eighth seed. 

Seasoned Nuggets fans may find this spot familiar. In 2018, a similar situation happened between the two Northwest Division rivals when it came to the very last regular-season game. This happened to be a contest between the two teams to decide who snuck into the playoffs at the eighth seed (the play-in tournament didn’t exist yet). The Timberwolves outlasted the Nuggets in overtime and essentially won the rights to get eliminated by the No. 1-seeded powerhouse Houston Rockets.

There will be no such final deciding game between the two this time around, which is a shame for fans looking for fierce competition. The good news for Nuggets fans is Denver’s magic number is one win out of their last two games.

Denver plays the Memphis Grizzlies and the Lakers to close out the season. I think the Nuggets can beat the Grizzlies, who have nothing to play for since they cannot move up or down in rankings. The Lakers will be a problem for the Nuggets, I believe. If Denver can’t take care of Memphis, the just-eliminated Lakers will do everything in their power to spoil the fun of the Denver team that has demolished them all season.

One out of two, Denver. One out of two. 

Reach Braidon Nourse at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @BraidonNourse.

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