The Denver Nuggets defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 126-111 on Sunday afternoon in their final game of the regular season.

Jamal Murray led the way with 21 points in 24 minutes, though he did roll his left ankle late in the second quarter. Murray had opportunities to leave the game, but he stayed out there, looking a bit hobbled but contributing to the Nuggets win.

Nikola Jokic had 15 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and four steals in his 31 minutes. Jokic had plenty of opportunities to score against a Grizzlies frontline ravaged by injury, but he spent most of his time rebounding, screening, and playing solid defense in passing lanes.

The Nuggets passed the ball well as a starting unit, and it was more so a game about tuning up for the playoffs, staying fresh, and getting the entire team playing right and any one player showing out.

Michael Porter Jr. started the game slow as a shooter but ultimately made two three-pointers. He played 81 games this year, the only game he sat out being right before the All-Star Break. His availability has been extremely important for Denver, and his consistency as a shooter (at least one three-pointer in 35 straight games) remains impactful. The rebounding has left something to be desired of late, but he has made up for it in other areas.

Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also made an impact. Gordon took some time to get into the game, but he ultimately finished 7-of-8 at the free throw line and made plays across the board. Caldwell-Pope filled in the gaps, made some threes, and played his standard defense. Both players have All-Defense cases, but Caldwell-Pope is the more likely option. Hopefully he gets rewarded by voters.

Off the bench, Christian Braun played a great game, going for 19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He was engaged for the entire 48 minutes, doing a nice job on both ends of the floor as a hustler, scorer, and playmaker.

Reggie Jackson and Peyton Watson each chipped in 11 points, though Jackson’s shooting efficiency continues to be a problem heading into the playoffs. Watson remains a bit erratic himself, but he made a three-pointer tonight. He’s now made seven three-pointers post All-Star Break, something to monitor heading into the playoffs.

Overall, it was a fine performance from Denver. They were lucky that the Grizzlies were this injured, but Denver ultimately prevailed with a win.

More importantly, the rest of the Western Conference lined up for them reasonably well. The Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the Phoenix Suns, meaning that the Timberwolves will drop all the way to the third seed in the West and play the Suns.

How did the Suns jump to the sixth seed? The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans. The Lakers keep their eighth spot, and the Pelicans drop to seventh. Those two teams will face off against each other, and the winner will face the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

So, there we have it. The Nuggets know their first round opponent will be either the Lakers or the Pelicans. If the Nuggets advance, they know their second round opponent will be either the Timberwolves or the Suns. These were some impressive shenanigans from the West to manipulate the playoff bracket this way, and now that it’s over, the Nuggets know where things stand.

There will be plenty of coverage breaking down the Play-In tournament, the rest of the first round, and the playoffs from me. I’m excited to see whether the Nuggets can defend their title successfully. They’ve got a good shot, and the rest will be up to them.

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