The Denver Nuggets will be visiting the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena tomorrow. This will be both team’s second to last game of the season. With a loss to the Trail Blazers last night, the Nuggets are sitting in second place in the Western Conference, with the Rockets only a half game behind them. The Nuggets loss also means that the Golden State Warriors will win the Western Conference for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Meanwhile, the Jazz lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 113-109 and are currently sitting fifth in the Western Conference. The Jazz are currently winning the season series versus the Nuggets 2-1.
For the Jazz, their loss against the Lakers was seen as an embarrassment, considering they lost to the Lakers without Lebron. While the Jazz have been the hottest team in the NBA, their wins have come against below-average competition. Last night, Utah had no excuse to lose that game. The Jazz simply missed shots and failed to make key defensive stops down the stretch. Their last two game are against the Nuggets at home and the Clippers in Los Angeles. If they can win one of their last two games, it will be determined that they will be the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
For the Nuggets, their loss to the Trail Blazers means that they are only half a game ahead of the Rockets for second place. Because the Nuggets are Northwest Division champions, they can not fall any lower than third, with Portland in the fourth seed. The Nuggets last two games are against Utah on the road and Minnesota at home. If they can win their last two games, they will be in the second seed. However, a loss to either one, or both, of those teams could mean trouble for the Nuggets as they could potentially fall in the Western Conference standings.
Overall, like most seasons, the seeding of the Western Conference will come down to the last day of the season. In relation to the Jazz vs Nuggets, it will be a competitive showdown. In recent seasons, this matchup has been mainly determined by the home team, as 15 of the 16 matchup winners have been the home team. The Jazz will be playing one of the most underrated backcourts in the NBA in Garry Harris and Jamal Murray. The Nuggets at full strength are one of the most lethal teams in the NBA because their whole starting lineup can handle the basketball. The Nuggets have great depth and have proven to be one of the best teams in the West. That being said, these two teams are division rivals and the Jazz have been able to play well against the Nuggets. It will be a true test for Utah as they have faced below-average competition in the month of March. Having to transition to play one of the best teams in the NBA will be a good and necessary test for Utah. I have them losing this game 105-99.