Jan. 26, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Los Angeles Clippers small forward Grant Hill (33) is greeted by point guard Chris Paul (right) as he heads to the bench during the fourth quarter of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden. The Blazers won the game 101-100. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the Western Conference: Where will Nuggets finish?

With All-Star weekend and the NBA trade deadline looming, it’s also the time that teams start jockeying for position down the stretch. A trade here or a trade there could make a world of difference come playoff time. As the season is about 50 games in, the standings out west are getting closer and closer. Currently, the Nuggets are in sixth place in the West, but are right on the heels of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors.

Let’s take a look at how the West will end up.


1. Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers have been on the losing end things dropping three straight with Chris Paul out of action. Whenever they are fully healthy, their depth and star power makes them the favorite in the conference.

February 4, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Injured Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (c) talks with Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) and Clippers small forward Grant Hill (33) on the bench against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 98-90. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2. San Antonio Spurs – The Tim Duncan injury isn’t as bad as it looked which is a sigh of a relief not just for Spurs fans, but NBA fans everywhere. Yes the team is old again. But they continue winning.

Feb 2, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks with San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) during the first half against the Washington Wizards at the AT

3. Oklahoma City Thunder – James Harden who? Kevin Durant is showing why he’s the leagues best scoring threat and right up there with LeBron James in the MVP race. Durant and Russell Westbrook, along with a strong supporting cast, will have home court in the first round again.

Feb 4, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts to a play in action against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

4. Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets have a relatively easy schedule the rest of February and a decent one in March. When April comes around however, the Nuggets will be challenged. It’s essential for Denver to dominate the rest of the month when it comes to position. The Nuggets will likely have a first round matchup against the Warriors or Grizzlies – both whom they fair well against.

January 30, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) during the second half against the Houston Rockets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 118-110. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

5. Golden State Warriors – Why couldn’t their owner make the playoff guarantee this year instead of last? A rejuvenated David Lee and a healthy Stephen Curry are making the difference for the Warriors this year. Look for an exciting first round matchup between the Warriors and Nuggets in the playoffs.

Jan 28, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. The Warriors beat the Raptors 114-102. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

6. Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies traded away their top scorer in Rudy Gay and well, the return wasn’t great. While I feel Zach Randolph is the Grizzlies best player, a team can only get worse when losing its top scorer. Luckily for Memphis, they sit six games ahead of the Utah Jazz right now and should be able to hold them off for the No. 6 seed and a first round date with the Thunder.

Jan 18, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the FedEx Forum. Memphis defeated Sacramento 85-69. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

7. Houston Rockets – This is simple for me because the Jazz can’t win on the road. They are 18-5 at home, but just 9-17 on the road. It will catch up to them as Harden and Jeremy Lin stop a late surge from the Jazz, Mavericks, Trail Blazers and Lakers to grab the No. 7 seed.

Feb 2, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) taunts a ref after being called for a foul resulting in a technical against the Charlotte Bobcats during the second half at the Toyota Center. The Rockets won 109-95. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

8. Los Angeles Lakers – Trust me when I say I hope I’m wrong. If Dwight Howard is healthy though, the Lakers will make the final playoff spot. With Kobe Bryant looking like the best point guard (?) since Magic Johnson, the Lakers clinch the final playoff spot from the Blazers on the the final day of the season with a win over the Rockets. Look for an all Los Angeles first round battle to start things off in the playoffs.

December 26, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 126-114. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports


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