Ranking the Nuggets' potential first-round playoff matchups from easiest to hardest

Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages
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With 61 games under their belt, the Denver Nuggets have essentially played three-quarters of their 2023-24 regular season. The team boasts a 42-19 record, just half a game back of the Oklahoma City Thunder for first place in the Western Conference.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have the same record as the Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Clippers are just two games back. With over 20 games to go in the regular season, it seems like any of these four teams could go on a run and end up with the one see, while any of them could struggle and finish behind the other three.

But after the Clippers there is a bit of a gap, as Denver is six games ahead of the current fifth-place team in the West. Barring a pretty drastic collapse down the stretch, the Nuggets are going to get a top-four seed in the West and host a first-round playoff series.

That means their first-round opponent will be a team that finishes somewhere between fifth and eighth in the West. With the rest of the season to be played, and the play-in tournament to follow, quite a lot could change between now and then in the race for the final four playoff spots. 

But again, there is a wide gap between the 10th and 11th seeds. The final order of 5-10 between the New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State Warriors is anyone’s guess.

It does seem like a certainty that the final four playoff teams will come from that group of six, and it does seem like a certainty that the Nuggets will finish the regular season with a top-four seed. In turn, their first-round opponent will be one of those six teams listed above.

Frankly, it would be very disappointing to lose a first-round series to any of those teams. But there are still some opponents that would be more and less favorable than others. Let’s take a look at the six most likely matchups, and rank them from easiest to hardest.