Apr 16, 2023 - Sports

Nuggets in NBA playoff run as West's No. 1 seed for the first time

Aaron Gordon dunks against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half at Ball Arena on Dec. 20, 2022. Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets are stumbling into the NBA's postseason.

State of play: The team went 2-5 over their final seven games of the season but remained the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Between the lines: The Nuggets finished the regular season with a 53-29 record, going 34-7 at Ball Arena — noteworthy, since the team gets home court advantage in the West.

Catch up quick: Center Nikola Jokić made his case to win his third consecutive MVP award.

  • He managed what Yahoo! Sports described as a "historically obscene" .701 true shooting percentage, making him one of the league's most efficient scorers while nearly averaging a triple-double.
Jamal Murray during the game against the LA Clippers on Jan. 13 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles. Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

What we're watching: Point guard Jamal Murray is the team's second leading scorer behind Jokić, and his presence this playoff series is a major reason why pundits think the Nuggets have a legitimate title shot.

Yes, but: It's a comparison that sours when you remember that the duo led the Jazz to back-to-back NBA Finals — but have no rings to show for it.

What's next: How well Denver fares in the playoffs against the 8th seed Minnesota Timberwolves.

Now, let's talk playoffs
The Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo goes up against Nikola Jokić at Ball Arena on March 25. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Nuggets are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the first time in team history.

State of play: Denver is heavily favored in their first round matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night at 8:30.

  • The Nuggets split the regular season with the Timberwolves 2-2, losing in Minnesota twice. In February Denver thrashed the Wolves by scoring 49 points in a quarter to win 146-122.

Threat level: Though it's rare, 8th seeds can upset a top team.

  • In fact, the Nuggets did it in 1994 when they beat the top-seeded SuperSonics, thanks to human swatting machine Dikembe Mutombo.

Yes, but: If (and when) the Nuggets succeed, waiting for them is the winner of the Phoenix Suns/Los Angeles Clippers matchup.

  • The Suns went all in this year, acquiring superstar Kevin Durant to pair with center Deandre Ayton and multiple-time All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
  • The Clippers are led by championship winning coach Tyronn Lue and two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
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