Why Blazers vs. Nuggets is the biggest game of the season in the West
The NBA playoffs are shaping up to be one of the most exciting in a long time, with seeding coming down to the final weekend of the regular season.
While it's become clear which teams are going to make it to the postseason and play-in rounds in each conference, the exact matchups have yet to be decided.
And there is a chance that seeding in the Western Conference won't be finalized until the last day of the regular season, with a matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers looming large.
The Nuggets are currently third in the West standings, while the Blazers are sixth, and this game could decide if both teams stay put in the standings, slide, or potentially rise.
And with much at stake, plus the NBA bringing back the play-in format for a second straight year, the fate of the rest of the conference's playoff teams won't be decided until the Nuggets and Blazers do battle.
Here is everything you need to know about the biggest game of the season in the Western Conference.
Current record: 47-24
3rd in Western Conference
If they win:
The Nuggets are currently tied with the LA Clippers with one game to play.
And thanks to holding the tiebreaker, the Nuggets control their own destiny. Denver got a big boost when the Clippers fell to Houston on Friday night. Now they're guaranteed to be the No. 3 seed if they beat Portland.
If they lose:
If the Nuggets were to lose to the Blazers on Sunday night, they could potentially drop to No. 4 – depending on what the Clippers do. They aren't in jeopardy of falling below fourth.
Portland Trail Blazers
Current record: 41-30
6th in the Western Conference
If they win:
The matchup with the Nuggets is the Blazers' last game of the season and they have two days to prepare for it after a Thursday night loss to the Phoenix Suns. That loss dropped them from fifth to sixth in the standings.
If they win, they have a chance to finish fifth in the Western Conference if the Mavericks lose their season finale against Minnesota. Portland owns the head-to-head tiebreakers over both the Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, who are a half-game back in seventh.
If they lose:
A loss for the Blazers could potentially be catastrophic.
The Blazers are 8-2 in their last 10 games, but a two-game losing streak heading into the playoffs could spell doom for them, especially with the Lakers appearing to be rounding into form at the right time.
LeBron James and Dennis Schroder are both expected to return to the lineup at some point during the Lakers' last two games against the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans, both of whom are below .500.
If the Blazers were to lose, while both the Mavericks and Lakers win out, they would find themselves in a potential matchup with the Golden State Warriors in the play-in, and Damian Lillard is 0-10 in career playoff games against Stephen Curry.
The Blazers have more control over their own destiny than the Nuggets, and Denver can afford a loss to the Blazers on Sunday, since they aren't in jeopardy of losing home-court advantage in the first round.
This matchup between the Blazers and Nuggets is sure to have playoff intensity, and could even be a preview of a potential first-round matchup between both teams.
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