This Denver Nuggets season all comes down to tonight, with the team taking on the scorching Phoenix Suns in a battle for the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs, which would guarantee at least one home-court playoff series.
The Nuggets put themselves in this position with a 123-101 blowout of the Memphis Grizzlies last night at the Pepsi Center, giving fans much more than just $1 hot dogs and free team posters for the last regular-season game at home. The Denver Post points out that Aaron Afflalo logged his first double-double last night, sinking 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. And the enigmatic J.R. Smith drained six three-pointers on the way to his game-high 26 points (box score via NBA.com).
The Nuggets were efficient, shooting 46 percent from the field and turning the ball over just eight times.
But now comes the hard part. The Nuggets must win in Phoenix against a team they haven’t beat on its home floor since April 7, 2004. If the Nuggets pull it off, they win their second-straight division title. If not, they’ll have to wait and see what happens when Phoenix battles the Utah Jazz Wednesday night.
The breakdown becomes a bit confusing from there, and it’s hard to say who Denver will play in the first round, but a win tonight ensures home-court advantage for at least that round, an imperative advantage for the Nuggets, who’ve won at the Pepsi Center nearly 83 percent of the time this year, notes Denver Stiffs.