For starters, smack dab in the middle of this homestretch is a five-game, including a pair of back-to-back sets, Eastern Conference road swing. It starts with a trip up to Motown against the Pistons of whom the Nuggets have had no recent success against. From the Motor City, the Nuggets stop in the City of Brotherly Love to see old friends Andre Miller and Reggie Evans and the playoff bound Philadelphia 76ers. This pivotal week also makes the Nuggets stop in Toronto (playoff bound) and New Jersey (who is fighting for their playoff lives). I think the Nuggets will be fortunate to emerge from this five-game jaunt with three wins, but anything more than that would be over-optimistic and the possibility for fewer is certainly there. The sole gimmie (if you think there is such a game for these Nuggets) on the trip is the last stop at Memphis where the Nuggets need to get some bar-b-que, a win, and back to Pepsi Center as fast as humanly possible.
Another stretch of games that has me worried is the final road trip of the year. In the first seven of the final ten days of the regular season, the Nuggets have a four-game swing up and down the West coast starting with the Sonics, Clippers, and Warriors before finishing off in Salt Lake City for the final Nuggets v. Jazz game of the season. This late in the season is when teams like the Sonics and Clippers can be dangerous because they have nothing more to play for other than ruining another teams season (misery loves company). The Clippers have even beaten the Nuggets this year… So have the Warriors who are hot (7-3) since the break. And the Jazz seem to only be beatable if a Nugget burns the nets for 40+ points.
Also sprinkled in the final 20 games are road games against the Spurs and Suns and home games against the Raptors, Mavericks, Warriors, Suns, and Rockets; all of whom are playoff bound. Sheesh, can’t we just play Seattle and Memphis a couple of more times? OK, the basketball gods have smiled upon the Nuggets as they do see the Grizzlies to finish the regular season at the Pepsi Center, but what worries me is the road that lies ahead may make that game merely an exhibition game, and a for few on Kroenke’s payroll, a farewell affair.
I still stand by my prediction that the Nuggets needed to win 53 games to make this year’s postseason pack of eight. At this point, that means the Nuggets have to win 15 of the aforementioned 20 remaining games. A task that I don’t see getting accomplished.
Last year’s Nuggets were 47-35 and disposed of quickly (4-1) by the Spurs after lighting a fire underneath San Antonio in game one. This year’s Nuggets need to fare 10-10 in their last 20 games to even match last year regular season record that mark would surely leave them finished after game 82.
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve sat there a read yet another Nugg Doctor article and just said to yourself, “Seriously, Denver has to be a .500 team just to match last year’s efforts and probably has to win 15 of their last 20 games to possibly make the playoffs?”