The 2019-20 NBA season has been one of the most exciting in a number of years due to parity across the league. While it might not quite be the case in the Eastern Conference, this is the first time in over a decade, there aren’t many no guarantees as to who will make the NBA Finals.
In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Clippers, and Houston Rockets have all made legitimate noise. Even the Denver Nuggets, led by Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, are involved.
Heading into the eight seeding games that will take place at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the Lakers sit atop the West by 5.5 games, meaning they will all but certainly be the No. 1 seed.
Nos. 2-6 are absolute chaos, as the Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Rockets all stand within four games of one another. While seeding won’t necessarily matter in the bubble, a bad matchup in the first round of the playoffs could be the end.
If the standings stayed as is, the Nuggets would play the Rockets in the first round and most likely the Clippers in the second round. Despite that absolutely brutal combination, Murray still believes the Nuggets are for real.
Murray recently said he and Jokic had been working out together in Denver, preparing for the league’s return, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
“We know we can go win the title,” the Nuggets’ guard said in a Zoom call with Denver reporters. “Me and Joker have been in Denver this whole time, working out.”
Murray added that when he and Jokic are at their best, no one is able to beat them:
“If we can just find that consistency and play at a high level,” Murray said of the Nuggets’ biggest issue. “When me and Joker are on, I don’t think there is anybody that is going to stop us. And if they do, then good game.”
The Nuggets are certainly a young, talented team that would be a tough out in any playoff series. However, they are simply not on the same level as the other top Western Conference teams.
Against the Lakers and Clippers this season, the Nuggets sit at a combined 2-3. Their two wins came when the Lakers were without LeBron James, and the Clippers didn’t have Paul George. Denver have yet to beat a fully healthy Lakers or Clippers team this season.
They went 2-0 against the Bucks this season, but both games saw Milwaukee missing at least two starters.
The Nuggets reaching the NBA Finals is unlikely, but certainly not impossible. But they will need to find a second gear in the postseason, as their best work in the regular season rarely resulted in wins against the other top teams.
Health nearly became a significant factor as Jokic was recently found to have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). He’s since recovered and is expected to play when the NBA restarts.
Nuggets seeding games
While in Orlando, the Nuggets will face the Miami Heat, Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Lakers, Clippers and Raptors.
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