The Denver Nuggets are fighting for their playoff lives once again. A year after a Russell Westbrook long buzzer-beating three booted them out of the playoffs, the Nuggets find themselves in a very similar place, losers of a tiebreaker with the Minnesota Timberwolves, now at the point where winning is the only thing they can control.
“If we can’t win games, we can’t get in regardless,” Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler told James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. “So, we just got to win games and see what everyone else do.”
The Nuggets are unfortunately on the outside looking in, as part of the most ruthlessly competitive conference, where fourth through ninth place are separated by a mere two games’ difference, making it a chaotic see-saw battle that will stretch to the very final day of the regular season.
If Denver and Minnesota win, it’ll set up a winner-take-all matchup in the season finale, as both teams will compete for a playoff ticket in what’s sure to replicate the same heart-pulsing atmosphere.
The Nuggets have won five straight games and Chandler has been playing with a mask ever since a gut-it-out win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a revenge game caused his sudden exit after 22 minutes with a broken nose.
“The mask is super uncomfortable, I hate it,” said Chandler, who described the discomfort as a 10 out of 10.
Yet his production (scoring in double digits the last three games since sitting out with the injury) will be needed through these last two games, first against the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, and finishing up with the Wolves on Wednesday.