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The Nuggets Must Prioritize Health and Rest Over Playoff Seeding

The Defending Champions Are Battling to Secure the 1st Seed in the West

The Favorites to Repeat

The NBA regular season is coming to an end and the defending champions Denver Nuggets are in the middle of a tight race for the number one seed in the Western Conference with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder, which would give them home-court advantage in the playoffs, but the cost could be too high.

As reported by NBA news outlets, the Nuggets, who became the first Western Conference team to clinch a spot in the playoffs, have been one of the healthiest teams in the league this season. Denver has multiple key players like Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. who have dealt with major injuries over the years.

The Nuggets Must Prioritize Health and Rest Over Playoff Seeding
Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets - Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

As of late, the Nuggets have seen longer injury reports, and more guys miss games. While it’s hard to tell how much of this was due to actual injuries and how much was due to rest and caution, NBA rumors suggest that Denver prioritizes health and rest over the number seed, which seems to be the right call.

 

What Went Down Last Year

A year ago, the Nuggets had a comfortable lead in the Western Conference, which allowed them to take their foot off the gas and rest key players without sacrificing their position in the NBA standings. Denver made the most of having home-court advantage in every playoff series, going 10-1 at Ball Arena on their way to winning the NBA Championship.

Having the number one seed is beneficial, no one can deny that, but that should not be the Nuggets’ main focus! Approaching the end of the regular season with caution is a must. Being healthy and well-rested ahead of the playoffs should be their priority, even if they sacrifice some NBA games and the possibility of getting the number one seed.

 

A Healthy Nuggets Team Can Win Anywhere

While the Nuggets were dominant at home in last year’s playoffs, they also played well on the road, going 6-3, and two of those losses were in Phoenix in games where Kevin Durant and Devin Booker had unreal performances.

Overall, the Nuggets are the most complete team in the NBA. If rested and healthy, they can win anywhere in the playoffs. Anything can happen in the playoffs but let’s be honest, the only two teams that pose a threat to the Nuggets in the West are the Timberwolves and Thunder, and while both teams are young and talented, they’re also unproven.

Still, having a home-court advantage against them would be nice. Is it essential? No, the Nuggets should know they can go on the road and win big games in hostile environments if necessary. Denver is a battle-tested team with a championship mettle, built for the bright lights. It won’t be easy but the Nuggets are still the team to beat.

Murray missed Sunday’s 130-101 home win against the Cavaliers due to right knee inflammation, which moved Reggie Jackson to the starting lineup and gave Christian Braun and Justin Holiday an uptick in playing time.

 

Jackson, Braun, and Holiday stepped up against the Cavaliers, combining for 36 points and 10 rebounds, and Nikola Jokic’s stats were unreal! Jokic led the way with a monster triple-double of 26 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists, proving how scary the Nuggets are, even without Murray.

 

The Road Ahead

The rest of the regular season schedule is favorable, so the Nuggets should give their role players an opportunity on some of the games, just like on Sunday. The Nuggets already beat the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies without key players.

Of their seven games left in the regular season, the Nuggets will face the Spurs twice, and play the Hawks, Jazz, and Grizzlies. Those are all winnable games, even if they rest some of their stars, and they will allow role players like Jackson, Braun, Holiday, Peyton Watson, and Zeke Nnaji to audition for playoff minutes.

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