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2011 NBA Playoff Picture: Nuggets Fifth In Western Conference Standings Leaves Them Battling Oklahoma City

The Denver Nuggets enter this week's action on the heels of two impressive victories over the Phoenix Suns and the Detroit Pistons. The Nuggets defeated the Suns for the first time on the road in 12 games (and George Karl in 16 games) and then had a 30-point victory over the Pistons on Saturday night. Still, they remain fifth in the Western Conference standings behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, who sit atop the Northwest division standings.

The Thunder hold a 3.5-game lead over the Nuggets with two April head-to-head contests left to play. This should be one of the more exciting stretch finishes to follow in the NBA. The top three seeds in the West will be hard to catch up with. The Spurs are the only team in the conference to clinch a playoff spot so far, though Dallas and Los Angeles aren't far behind from that either.

But if we look at the Eastern Conference, we already see that Boston, Chicago and Miami have already clinched spots in the playoffs. The Bulls, though, have already taken their division. Currently they have 47 wins, while the second-place team, Indiana, had a 28-38 record and a hold on the eighth spot in the playoffs. All eight teams in the West are above .500.

Fifth in the Western Conference doesn't look too bad in comparison. It would be fifth in the East as well.

The Nuggets' schedule this week includes road games against New Orleans on Monday, Atlanta on Wednesday and Orlando and Miami on Friday and Saturday.