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Thunder vs. Nuggets: Okay, Here's Our Playoff Situation (2011-2012 Game 66 Preview)

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This is how KD relaxes for tonight's game.
This is how KD relaxes for tonight's game.

GameThread Tonight at 7! Let your voice be heard, come and discuss the game!

Records: Denver Nuggets (36-28) at Oklahoma City Thunder (47-18)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Altitude Sports and Entertainment

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KMEZ 106.7 FM

Enemy Blog(s): Denver Stiffs, Roundball Mining Company

Previous Meetings: Feb 19th, Mar 15 (Thunder Lead Season Series 2-0)

Tonight's game is not entirely meaningless. Yes, what the Thunder do tonight will affect what happens in the playoffs. It won't increase or decrease our seed, but it could determine who we face in the first round: And either way, the matchup is tantalizing.

Who are our potential opponents? The Mavericks, the team that knocked us out of the 2011 Conference Finals. The Nuggets, the team we faced a whopping 7 times last April. Last are the Utah Jazz, division rivals and champion of interior offense.

What are the scenarios?

The Nuggets are the 6th seed, and half a game above the Mavericks for the seventh seed. If we beat them tonight, they fall into a tie with the Mavericks for the seventh seed. Dallas leads the season series 4-0, so if they finish in a tie with Denver, Dallas gets the nod. Dallas doesn't play tonight, so in that situation, the Mavericks would have to lose tomorrow in order to get the 7th seed, assuming Denver wins.

The wild card in the whole ordeal are the Utah Jazz. If Denver loses twice, the Utah Jazz will leapfrog them for the seventh seed, as they hold the tiebreaker. There's no situation in which they could get the sixth seed, as the Mavericks are a game ahead and hold the season series advantages.

Okay, if that was too confusing, here's every potential scenario spelled out.

#6. Denver, #7. Dallas, #8. Utah

What needs to happen? Denver defeats OKC, MIN. Dallas and Utah are irrelevant.. OR Denver defeats OKC or MIN, Dallas Loses to ATL, Utah is irrelevant.

Likelihood: 70%. It's obviously very dependent on what the Thunder do tonight. Their backups have shown feist and have defeated the Sacramento Kings, but more than likely Brooks will rest his starters in the fourth and Denver will win that one. All the Nuggets have to do then is beat the Timberwolves scrubs.

#6. Dallas, #7. Denver, #8. Utah

What needs to happen? Denver loses to OKC or MIN. Dallas defeats ATL. Utah is irrelevant. OR Denver loses to OKC and MIN. Dallas loses to ATL. Utah loses to POR.

Likelihood: 25%. Denver could potentially botch one of their last two games, opening the door for Dallas.

#6. Dallas, #7. Utah, #8. Denver

What needs to happen? Denver loses to OKC and MIN. Dallas defeats ATL. Utah defeats POR.

And what if Denver goes 0-2, Dallas loses, and the Jazz win?

Well, that's a three way tie. In that case, the seeding is determined by winning percentage in all head-to-head games. The Mavericks are 3-1 against the Nuggets and 3-1 against the Jazz, making for a winning percentage of .750. The Jazz are 1-3 against the Mavericks and 2-1 against the Nuggets, making for a winning percentage of .429. The Nuggets are 1-3 against the Mavericks and 1-2 against the Jazz, making for a winning percentage of .286. In other words. it would be #6. Dallas, #7. Utah, #8. Denver.

Likelihood: 5%. For the Jazz to move up, Denver has to seriously screw up. On the Jazz's part, all they have to do is defeat the Trail Blazers, who are tanking like champs right now. But I just can't see Denver losing against the Thunder AND Timberwolves.

What does this mean for tonight?

This game is perhaps the most critical of all remaining matchups for the three teams. Should the Thunder win, it will open the door for the Mavericks and Jazz to move up, and gives everybody a reason to watch TV tomorrow. If the Thunder lose, then it pretty much solidifies the Mavericks as our first round matchup.

What do you want to happen?

I'd love to see a Thunder win. It looks good on the team's resume, and it potentially keeps the Mavericks from staying in the seventh seed and causing us problems in the first round. I'm more worried about them than I am the Nuggets or Jazz. But regardless of what happens, I'm ready for the playoffs, and I'm happy to see the Lazer, Cheese, Mini-T, and the Cole Sore one last time. BRING IT ON!!!!

Prediction: Denver Nuggets 101, Oklahoma City Thunder 93.