The Denver Nuggets have already secured their spot in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, but still have one final game to figure out their first-round matchup and seeding. In the last game of the regular season, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers coming to town.
The Nuggets could be short-handed against the Lakers. As of Sunday morning, only Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray had been officially ruled out, although several players — including Nikola Jokić and Aaron Gordon — are considered questionable.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Kendrick Nunn, all of whom have been ruled out for their season finale.
Regardless of who’s playing, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has no interest in waving the white flag. “We have to keep an edge. We have to keep a proper mindset going into the playoffs. You don’t want to come up for air and stay there.”
When the postseason begins next weekend, the Nuggets will either be in the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Sunday night’s slate of games determines exactly who winds up where, as fans can closely watch the score of the Utah Jazz matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers.
If the Jazz win or the Nuggets lose on Sunday night, the Jazz will take the No. 5 seed and the Nuggets will claim sixth. However, if the Nuggets win and the Jazz lose, the two will swap spots in the bracket.
Nuggets fans can also watch the outcomes of two other games: the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans, as well as the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. If the Warriors win or the Mavericks lose, Golden State will be No. 3 and Dallas, No. 4. If the Mavericks win and the Warriors lose, the two switch sides.
Nuggets guard Will Barton — questionable for the Lakers matchup — said that the Nuggets do not have a preference in their first round matchup, and that they would be confident against either team.
Heading into the final game of the regular season, the Nuggets have the correct mindset across the board. Rather than trying to manipulate the standings to be in a specific seed or face a specific opponent, they are going to go for a win, even if some key players sit out.
Hopefully, against a depleted Lakers team, Denver can put together a performance they can be proud of heading into the fight for an NBA championship.
Los Angeles Lakers (32-49, 11th in the Western Conference) vs. Denver Nuggets (48-33, sixth in the Western Conference)
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado; Sunday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. MST