3. The Denver Nuggets will reach the semifinals, at least.
Even if they have to do it as a wild card, the Nuggets will give someone a ticket home in the knockout stage. Denver just waltzed to an NBA championship, losing just four games throughout the entirety of their playoff run.
Both of their stars, Jokic and Jamal Murray, stepped up their game when the lights got bright last spring. Jokic’s stats from the last page are impressive alone, but then adding in Murray’s jump from 20.0 points per game in the regular season to his playoff average of 26.1 makes the duo even more scary for opposing teams.
Plus, Denver’s supporting cast of Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all coming off of impressive seasons too. All three made key contributions to the team’s first NBA title run. Gordon stepped up defensively, while Porter Jr. and Caldwell-Pope were reliable options for Jokic to find on the three-point line.
It’s tough to imagine them messing around once the stakes get higher. In a win-or-go-home scenario, the Nuggets will undoubtedly bring their “A game.” Even though the In-Season Tournament doesn’t have a ton of shine right now, in August, things will get a bit more interesting once teams find themselves three wins away from hoisting the “NBA Cup” trophy.