Through 81 games, only two out of the six playoff spots in the Western Conference have been settled. The Denver Nuggets' loss and the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves' wins on Friday night will set up a photo finish for the number one seed out West, with all three teams having the same win-loss record (56-25) approaching the final day of the regular season.

This is the first time that such a thing has happened throughout the history of the NBA. According to NBA Communications on Twitter (X), it's the first time in history where “three teams, through 81 games, all have the same record and chance to capture the #1 seed in their respective conference”.

With the one-seed still up for grabs, and with that distinction coming with it the perk of having homecourt advantage through the Western Conference Finals, expect the Nuggets, Thunder, and Timberwolves — all three teams coming from the Northwest Division — to go all out for their final game of the regular season.

Nuggets slip up against the Spurs

The Nuggets looked like they were going to cruise to victory against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. They led by 23 early in the third quarter, and against a depleted Spurs team, so it looked as if they were going to maintain their one-game cushion for the one-seed.

Alas, Victor Wembanyama led the Spurs to a mighty comeback, which was finished off by Devonte' Graham's game-winner. The Nuggets ended up losing, 121-120, knocking them down to the third spot in the process after wins from the Thunder and Timberwolves.

The tie-breaker in the event of a three-way tie will be the teams' combined record against the two other teams. Since the Nuggets lost the season series against the Thunder, 3-1, while tying against the Timberwolves (2-2), Denver has the worst record among those teams, at 3-5, thus placing them at third after today's results.

The comfort now for Denver is that they have the easiest season-ending game among the three. They might be on the road, but they'll be facing a Memphis Grizzlies team that's fielding a heavily-depleted roster. However, they'll need both the Thunder and Timberwolves to lose just so they could regain the one-seed.

Thunder: hoping for a Minnesota Game 82 loss

The Thunder own the tie-breaker over both the Nuggets and Timberwolves in the event of a three-way tie; however, if the Nuggets lose to the Grizzlies and the Timberwolves win Game 82, Minnesota will end up having the one-seed over OKC by virtue of having a better record against Western Conference teams (37-14 vs. 35-16 with one game remaining).

Nonetheless, the Thunder will be facing a Dallas Mavericks team with nothing to play for in their final game. Thus, that game will not be as difficult as it would have been had it still been possible for the Mavs to get homecourt advantage in the first round. OKC needs to take care of business and hope that Phoenix continues to be a bad matchup for Minnesota.

Timberwolves vs. Suns, a sneak peek of playoff intensity

After the Phoenix Suns' escape act against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, the sixth seed out West is still up for grabs for the boys from the Valley. If the Suns win their final game of the season and the New Orleans Pelicans lose theirs, Phoenix will end up making the playoffs outright. (The Suns won the season series vs. the Pelicans, 2-1.)

Thus, the Timberwolves will be hosting a highly-motivated Suns team on Sunday afternoon in a game that will have major seeding implications. Minnesota can still finish first with a win, regardless of the result in the Thunder game (as long as the Nuggets lose), so fans should expect both teams to play with playoff-level intensity.

There will be a bit of concern among Timberwolves fans, however. The Suns won the first two meetings against them in convincing fashion, as it appears as though Phoenix is Minnesota's bogey team.