Nuggets secure 2 seed on final day of season: who will they play in round 1?

Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages

The Denver Nuggets entered the final day of the NBA regular season looking likely headed for the number three seed in the Western Conference. It was unclear what their motivations would be, as they didn’t control their own destiny and were facing an extremely banged-up Memphis Grizzlies team.

But instead of resting key players, the Nuggets chose to go out there and take care of business, doing just that in a 126-111 road win over the Grizz. Perhaps as a karmic reward for taking the game seriously, the Nuggets got some help from the rest of the conference as the Phoenix Suns were able to take down the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-106.

Nuggets clinch the 2 seed

With that result, the Nuggets were able to leapfrog the Wolves and finish as the number two seed in the West, while the Wolves fell to third. This means that the Nuggets will have to wait for their first-round opponent, as they’ll face the winner of the first Western Conference play-in tournament game.

That will be Tuesday night’s game between the seventh-seeded New Orleans Pelicans and the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in New Orleans. The winner of that single game will clinch the seventh seed and get on a plane to Denver to face the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

Possible opponent: Pelicans

Both teams would pose a tough matchup as a first-round opponent but the Nuggets should be able to take care of either one. The Pelicans have had a great year, but haven’t won in the playoffs with this core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum.

The Pels have lost two crucial games to the Lakers this season, once in the In-Season Tournament, and again on Sunday when they could have clinched the sixth seed with a win and avoided the play-in altogether.

Possible opponent: Lakers

We all know the story with the Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They’ve come on down the stretch, but the Nuggets swept them this regular season after sweeping them out of the conference finals last season.

So, both potential opponents boast a great deal of talent, but the Nuggets will be heavy favorites in either series. I’d rather face the Pelicans; they don’t have the size to contain Jokic, and they struggle to find lineups with the right combination of offense and defense.

Plus, as much as the Nuggets have owned the Lakers, they usually make it a close game. I’m happy to avoid the typical nonsense that comes along with playing a LeBron Lakers team, going into the games knowing you won’t get a single foul call.

Either way, it was a good day for the Nuggets, and climbing up to the number two seed was a great result.