Thunder Vs. Nuggets: Pivotal Game In Playoff Race

The Denver Nuggets trail the Oklahoma City Thunder by three games in the Western Conference playoff standings with six games left in the season.  With first round home court advantage on the line, tonight's game could go a long way in determining who can advance out into the second round of the NBA playoffs.

With the Nuggets sitting in the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings, and the Thunder currently holding the fourth spot, the two teams look like they are destined to match-up against each other once the playoffs begin. But with only three games separating the two teams, and with two of each team's six remaining games against the other, what isn't known is if the Thunder can hold onto the fourth spot, meaning first round home court advantage. If the Nuggets can win tonight, and also take Friday's game in Oklahoma City, then it is a virtual crap shoot on who gets which seed. And the way the Nuggets are rolling, don't think they can't overtake the Thunder.   

Having won six straight, and 15 of 19 since the big trade that brought Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov from New York, the Nuggets are playing arguably their best basketball of the season.  Hold overs Ty Lawson, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith are playing better, more organized ball, and the team's head honcho, George Karl, is coaching as well as anyone since the February 22 deal.

And they might be catching Oklahoma City at the right time. The Thunder have dropped two straight, after winning 11 of 12, and Kevin Durant has been outplayed by fellow Big 12 Alumni LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin in the two losses. Durant hasn't been contained, mind you, but in those losses he is shooting 19-of-48 (39.6 percent) from the field and only 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from three point range.

For Denver to win Felton and Lawson need to disrupt Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and the forwards need to keep Durant off-balance, leading him to take poor shots and continue with his shooting woes.

Tonight's game tips off at 7:00 p.m. MDT and can be seen on Altitude.

Follow all things Nuggets on SB Nation's Denver Stiffs or the Thunder on SB Nation's Welcome to Loud City.

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