Nuggets video: Denver locker room in celebration after making the playoffs
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Video: Nuggets locker room in celebration after making the playoffs

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On April 12, 2018, the final day of the 2017-18 regular season, the Denver Nuggets were in the fight of their life as they battled the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. They ultimately came up short, losing a heartbreaker in overtime as they watched the advancing Timberwolves celebrate.

This season, with three weeks remaining on the schedule, Denver clinched a playoff spot. Nearly a year after they sat in their locker room with utmost disappointment, the Nuggets are now celebrating their return to the post-season after a six-year hiatus.

As he has done all season, Nikola Jokic led Denver in their playoff-clinching effort over the Boston Celtics. The All-Star center tallied 21 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Will Barton and Gary Harris contributed 20 points and 16 points, respectively, while four other Nuggets also scored in double-figures.

What a difference a year makes. Denver has to be one of the best feel-good stories of the 2018-19 season.

They didn’t need to make a significant blockbuster deal or signing to make their ascension in the Western Conference. It took them a year of development and playing together to put them over the top. It also helps that they have one of the best young big men in the game today in Jokic, who has made the leap as a fringe MVP candidate this season.

The Nuggets are currently tied with the Golden State Warriors for first in the Western Conference and are on pace to finish in the top two.

All their success this season comes with a lot of expectations. And despite being a young, up-and-coming team, many are expecting Denver to make some noise and go on a deep run in this year’s post-season.