Fifty wins is what it takes in the Western Conference to claim a top-four seed. As I’ve stated before, there are five other teams in the West that can also win 50 games. So far, just one of those five are struggling to win the games they should. That team is the Lakers, but unfortunately the Lakers also had no problem beating the Nuggets last Friday. With an All-Star-laden starting lineup, I’m sure we can all agree the Lakers will be just fine when healthy.
The other four teams are off to a good start and seem to be on track to 50 wins. Those teams are the Thunder, Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies.
In my season preview blog, I predicted the Nuggets to win 48 games this year and finish as the sixth seed, behind all the mentioned teams. With five early season losses that should’ve been victories, that 48-win mark may be a few too many.
The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Nuggets on opening night 84-75. The 76ers were without center Andrew Bynum that night. When opposing teams are without their best player, you need to win those games.
The Nuggets have also lost to the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, all on the road. Save your “its tough to win on the road” comments; if you want to be a top-four team in your conference, you have to beat young rebuilding teams on the road.
I can live with two losses to the Heat, (although the Nuggets let the game in Miami get away) one loss to the Spurs and Lakers and a loss to the Warriors. All of those teams will make the playoffs and in the Warriors’ case, I believe they can compete for a seventh or eighth seed this year.
It’s those losses to teams that have no business beating the Nuggets, such as the Jazz, Suns, Magic and 76ers that will cost the team home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
If you want to be an elite team in the NBA, you have to prove you’re worthy. Losing to teams that will be eliminated from playoff contention in early March shows just the opposite.
But beat teams like the Raptors as the Nuggets did last night, and they’ll be back on the right track.