All-Star Weekend has come and gone and now it is time to for the sprint to the playoffs or tanking towards the lottery.
We know that the top three spots in the Western Conference and the top spot in the Eastern Conference are likely set. We think we know the Miami Heat will finish atop the East and the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers will finish the Western Conference 1-2-3 in some order.
After that it is a toss up, but there is one team — the Denver Nuggets — who I think will make a late season push and could even challenge for a top three seed in the West.
At 33-21, the Nuggets are fifth place in the West, one and a half games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for fourth place and five games back of the Clippers for third. They are 22-3 at home and 11-18 on the road, thanks in part to a murderous schedule early in the season that saw them play 21 road games in November and December. They have since rebounded and have 16 of their remaining 28 games at home.
The Grizzlies on the other hand, have only 12 of their remaining 31 games at home. Not only could we see the Nuggets jump up to the four seed, we could also see the Grizzlies slide down to the six seed because the Golden State Warriors are only three and a half games back of them.
Not to say the team with the league's best record is due for a late season break out, but we could see the Spurs finish with a 65- or 66-game win total. At 42-12, the Spurs have four games left on their annual Rodeo Road Trip. Once that is done, they have 17 of their final 24 games at home. ESPN has them projected to finish with 63 games.
It is easy to say they are going to rest their guys once they have home court locked up, but their reserves just beat a very good Chicago Bulls team in the Windy City on the second night of a back to back. Sixty wins feels like a mortal lock and 64-66 wins does not sound out of the question.