After Friday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs threw the entire NBA playoff picture for a loop, the Denver Nuggets are in a complicated situation on the final day of the regular season.

The Nuggets gave up their spot at the top of the Western Conference last game with an extremely unfortunate loss. Had the Nuggets won against the Spurs, a game that they led by 23 points in the second half, their path to the playoffs would be significantly different. The Nuggets would have had homecourt advantage throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs no matter what. Instead, they are now stuck in a three-way tie with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves, one that they lose to both teams.

Yes, the Nuggets are currently the third seed. Yes, they are in-line to face the sixth seed New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs if everything goes according to plan.

However, it’s fair to question whether everything will fall into place, especially in light of Denver’s most recent slip-up.

Today, the Nuggets will face the Memphis Grizzlies in their final game of the season, and it’s possible that the Nuggets will be missing the majority of their rotation.

Now, the Grizzlies have it waaaaay worse, as has been the case for them the entire season. There are 13 players on Memphis’ active roster that are sitting out today, including almost every player that a Nuggets fan might know. They’re team is currently pieced together by duct tape and super glue, ready for the season to end. That doesn’t mean that rookie GG Jackson or Scotty Pippen Jr. are going to willingly get out of the way for the Nuggets to earn an easy win though.

The Nuggets will have an opportunity to win without playing a single rotation player, but it probably won’t matter for their own personal standings. The Timberwolves and Thunder both have opportunities to win and clinch top two seeds at the same time. The Timberwolves are hosting the Phoenix Suns, while the Thunder are hosting the Dallas Mavericks.

Here’s why it’s possible, but unlikely, that the Nuggets will leap either team in the standings:

The Timberwolves face the Suns, who are trying to avoid the play-in tournament. They’re expected to play Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and the rest of their team to try and earn a win; however, their results are meaningless if the New Orleans Pelicans defeat the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pelicans are one game up on the Suns, and one win over the Lakers clinches the sixth seed and avoiding the play-in. The Lakers DO have something to play for in trying to be the eighth seed in the play-in as opposed to the ninth or even tenth.

It’s possible that Minnesota loses to Phoenix, but I wouldn’t count on it. They have an opportunity to claim the top spot in the West for themselves, and it seems unlikely they would let that slip…then again, it’s one game, and it already happened to Denver.

The Thunder face the Mavericks, who have zero reason to try in their particular matchup. They’re now locked into the fifth seed, as illustrated below.

The Thunder, on the off chance that the Timberwolves did lose to the Suns, will go try and get the win over the Mavericks. Dallas is resting the top eight players in their rotation outside of Tim Hardaway Jr., so I’m not expecting miracles here. The Thunder will win, and they will place higher than Denver in the standings.

So, the highest the Nuggets can realistically finish in the standings is the second seed if they win, the Thunder win, and the T’Wolves lose. Is that better than the third seed? Right now, the Nuggets are in line to face the Pelicans in the first round. Moving up to the second seed means waiting for the play-in tournament to figure things out. The current seventh seed? The Phoenix Suns. The current eighth seed? The Los Angeles Lakers.

Everything is still too convoluted to make a firm determination on Denver’s best course of action. Would homecourt advantage in the second round (as the second seed vs the third seed) be better? Sure. Is it necessary? No. Would it help Denver potentially end a series faster? Perhaps.

The first seed is likely the best path, but that involves a win and losses by both the Thunder and Timberwolves. That seems unlikely.

The one final wrinkle in this entire schematic of Western Conference playoffs scenarios involves the three-way tiebreaker. Currently, the Thunder possess said tiebreaker over the T’Wolves and Nuggets. If all three teams win today, the Thunder will be in first place.

However, that’s only if all three teams win. See, if the Nuggets intentionally lose today while the Thunder and T’Wolves still win, Denver would drop below both teams by a game, turning a three-way tie back into a two-way tie. Under that scenario, it would be the T’Wolves that clinch the top spot rather than the Thunder due to a sequence of tiebreakers that come down to conference record.

So, if the Nuggets so desire, they can manipulate the bracket such that they propel either the Thunder or T’Wolves to the top of the standings and out of Denver’s side of the playoff bracket.

If the Nuggets don’t care about whether they get the second or third seed, but they do care which of the T’Wolves or Thunder they see in the second round vs possibly the Conference Finals, they have an opportunity to pick and choose with an intentional loss.

Does that mess with the Basketball Gods? Does that open up a door that a defending champion shouldn’t consider opening? Should the Nuggets be simply okay with playing whoever’s in front of them, or should they try and shift the bracket one way or the other to their choosing?

It’s a tough decision, one that I don’t envy, and one that wouldn’t exist if the Nuggets had taken care of business on Friday.

Time will tell what the Nuggets do.