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Thunder, Timberwolves, Nuggets all tied for top spot in West with one game left in season

Sacramento Kings v Oklahoma City Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 9: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder talks to the media after the game against the Sacramento Kings on April 9, 2024 at Paycom Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Denver was in control. It was a game up on Oklahoma City and Minnesota for the top seed in the West — win their final two games and the Nuggets had home court through the entire Western Conference postseason — and they were up on the San Antonio Spurs by 23 in the second half and 17 in the fourth quarter. Then the wheels came off.

Combine Denver’s loss with Minnesota beating Atlanta and Oklahoma City easily defeating the shorthanded Bucks, and there is now a three-team tie at the top of the Western Conference with one game remaining. The Thunder, Timberwolves and Nuggets are all 56-25. This is the first time in NBA history that three teams have been tied for the No. 1 seed with one game to go.

All three teams play their final games at 3:30 Eastern on Sunday:

• Oklahoma City hosts Dallas
• Minnesota hosts Phoenix
• Denver is at Memphis

Of the opponents, only Phoenix has something to play for — if the Suns win and the Lakers beat the Pelicans, Phoenix will jump New Orleans to become the No. 6 seed (based on tiebreakers) and avoid the play-in. Dallas is locked in as the No. 5 seed and will start the playoffs on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers. Memphis is out of the postseason.

The potential outcomes between the Thunder, Timberwolves, and Nuggets are complex, let’s break this down:

• If all three teams win (or all three lose), Oklahoma City will be the No. 1 seed based on having the best record in the matchups between the three teams. Minnesota would be second and Denver third, which is what the standings reflect going into Sunday.
• If the Thunder and Timberwolves win but Denver loses, then Minnesota will be the No. 1 seed (the Timberwolves have the two-team tiebreaker over the Thunder), Oklahoma City would be the No. 2 seed and Denver third.
• If the Thunder and Nuggets win but the Timberwolves lose, the Thunder become the No. 1 seed, the Nuggets second and the Timberwolves third.
• If Minnesota and Denver win but Oklahoma City lose, the Timberwolves are the No. 1 seed, the Nuggets second and the Thunder third.
• The only scenario where Denver gets the top seed is it wins while Minnesota and Oklahoma City both lose, and in that case the Timberwolves get the No. 2 seed and the Thunder fall to third.

Drama on the final day with all three games going on simultaneously — Adam Silver couldn’t have written a more perfect script.