1 seed watch: Nuggets inch closer to the top on day off

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Though the Nuggets did not have a game on Sunday, they were still able to make up some ground in the Western Conference standings. Though the Oklahoma City Thunder prevailed over the Suns 118-110, the Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 89-88.

The loss by the Wolves drops their record to 42-19, putting them in a dead tie with Denver as both teams now have identical records. The Thunder’s wing was their 42nd as well, but they only have 18 losses, thus holding a half-game lead atop the West.

How many games left?

The Nuggets and Wolves each have 21 games remaining to play in the regular season, while the Thunder have 22. Meanwhile, the Clippers are still in shouting distance as well, as they’re now up to 39-20, 2.5 games out of first.

Any of these teams could still finish first in the conference, but the Nuggets have certainly been the hottest team of late, having rattled off six straight wins coming out of the all-star break. They seem to be peaking at the right time, and gearing up for another long playoff run as they attempt to defend their title.

Home court advantage

It may not be essential, but earning the one seed and securing homecourt advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs definitely wouldn’t hurt. The Nuggets have gone 24-5 at home in the friendly confines of Ball Arena. That’s the best home record of any team in the conference, and have lost only once in Denver since January 5th.

The Nuggets have proven they can win anywhere at this point, and the most important thing for the team is making sure they are healthy, well-rested, and playing good basketball going into the playoffs. They can’t be overly concerned with what seed they are, who their opponent is, or where they’ll be playing the games.

But getting the one seed would certainly help, and is usually a good indicator of playoff success. Of the 77 NBA finals, 51 have been won by a number one seed, 16 have been won by a two seed, and 8 have been won by a number three seed. Just two championships have ever been won by a team seed lower than third. The Nuggets were, of course, the number one seed last year as they won their first title.