Ranking the Denver Nuggets potential playoff matchups

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As of Friday morning, the Denver Nuggets sit in sixth place in the Western Conference with eight games to play. They’re right on the tails of the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz for the fourth and fifth seeds, but they’re also feeling the heat from the Minnesota Timberwolves just behind them.

All four teams are within four wins of one another right now, so the stretch run should be very interesting for the heart of the Western Conference standings.

Clearly, the Nuggets are employing the best player among that quartet of teams. That would be the NBA’s oft-disrespected reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic, aka the Joker aka the Big Honey aka the Big Cevapi. He’s propped up a team that lost 40 percent of its starting lineup right out of the gate, though Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are supposedly nearing returns after multi-month absences.

To be frank, the Big Cevapi has been carrying the load of Mount Evans and the whole of Denver on his beautiful and substantial Serbian shoulders through 70-plus games, so why not just let the guy continue that run? And it’s not like Big Honey isn’t already the prototype of a guy who you want leading your team:

A couple of weeks ago it was reported MPJ would join the G-league Grand Rapids Gold for some action, but he never did, and now his availability for the rest of the season is in question. The same goes for Murray, who is 50-50 to return at all this season after tearing his ACL around this time last year. It remains a matter of debate whether the Blue Arrow aka the Bubble Hero should return at all this season.

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume that neither of those max players returns to make any significant impact on the rest of this season. So, Minnesota, Utah, Dallas? Golden State, or maybe even Memphis or Phoenix? Who is Denver’s ideal matchup for the first round of these playoffs?

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