Trail Blazers

Does it make sense for the Nuggets to "tank" against the Blazers?

Trail Blazers

With one day left in the regular season, every single seed in the Western Conference is still up grabs.

While we have a general idea of how things could play out, there are still plenty of questions. 

One of the biggest questions is coming out of Denver, where one has to ask, "Does it make sense for Denver to tank on purpose and lose to Portland?"

I know you're wondering why any team would try to lose on purpose, but there is a reason - The Los Angeles Lakers.

[RELATED: Should the Blazers, Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets and Mavs win or tank their last game?]

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

The Lakers are currently in a battle for playoff position with the Blazers. The outcome of the Blazers vs Nuggets game on Sunday could decide who gets the sixth seed and who gets the play-in. If Portland wins, they are guaranteed at least the sixth seed, meaning the Lakers are No.7, and play-in bound regardless of the outcome of their game against the Pelicans. 

So, why does that matter to Denver?

Well, in short, they may be able to decide who they will play in the first round of the playoffs. Denver is currently in 3rd place, tied with the Clippers.  

 

If Denver beats Portland, then they are guaranteed the No.3 seed. It also means the Lakers can still grab the No.6 seed with a win... in that case, the first-round match would be Nuggets vs Lakers. However, if the Nuggets lose so the Blazers, Denver can still be the No.3 seed (if the Clippers lose to the Thunder) but with a major alteration... the Lakers would automatically be heading to the play-in. 

In short, if Denver loses to Portland they can guarantee one thing - They would avoid the Lakers in the first round. 

The Lakers are the defending champions. Sure, they are currently in 7th place, but anyone who watches the NBA knows they are one of the best teams in the league with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the team healthy. They are still a favorite to get through the West, and any team that can will likely want to avoid them in the first round. Right now, that's Denver.

So, on Sunday there is only one game that really matters. Blazers vs Nuggets. A chance for the Blazers to lock in a playoff spot. A chance for the Nuggets to decide their playoff opponent. A chance to send the Lakers to the one place they don't want to be - The Play In.

Buckle up folk, things are about to get wild.