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Wolves, Nuggets Duel in Rare Play-In Game for NBA Playoff Berth

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Wolves, Nuggets duel in rare, sudden death game for final 2018 NBA Playoff spot

Whomever was the schedule-maker that estimated the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets should play one another in the final game of the season is getting a raise. They did a great job guessing that the two teams would be in and around the same record as the season wound down, spun the wheel and walked out with the jackpot. Plus whatever additional bonus scratch-offs.

Rare Sudden Death Duel for Eight Spot

That’s because as of April 10th, 2018, the Wolves and Nugget are tied for final NBA playoff spot in the 16-team bracket. The two teams have the exact same 46-35 regular season record. If you didn’t do the math: 46+35 = 81 games. For you NBA heads, you know there’s 82 games in the regular season and hat mean’s there’s one remaining game left on both of the teams’ calendars.

In any other year, the situation boiled down to whether another team won or lost, or some kind of tiebreaker. Not that year. The final game pits Minnesota and Denver against each other in a good old fashioned sudden death match up. The winner getting the opportunity to play either the #1 seeded Houston Rockets or the #2 Golden State Warriors. The loser goes fishing.

Rarely has the final game of the regular season been so clear cut in terms of playoff chances.  Usually the final spot comes down to a divisional record or another consideration. When the jumpball is tossed up, it comes down to whomever outscores the other in what amounts to basically a play-in game after 80+ games.

What were the chances? We looked at basketball betting odds over the last several seasons and couldn’t find a more straight-forward scenario that boiled down to the two teams in contention playing one another with the winner in the final game of the season moving on. Simple and rare.

Denver Nuggets Vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday Night

Going into the game on Wednesday night, both teams are being led by 22 year old rising stars.

The Denver Nuggets have won six straight games and a lot of post season performance is how well the team is gelling going into the playoffs. The team has clicked as of late and Nikola Jokic was just named NBA Player of the Month for March after flirting with triple doubles over the last couple weeks. In those six wins, The Joker averaged 23.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks on 50.5 percent from the field. He has no choice but to be great if they want to get into the post season.

However, don’t count out the Timberwolves – they’ll be the home team and thus home court advantage where they have a record of 29-11. Not only that, Karl Anthony-Towns has had a banner year with 67 doubles-doubles – -the most since Dwight Howard in nearly ten years and played in his first NBA all-star game so look for the Big KAT to step up. On top of that, the team’s leader Jimmy Butler just got back from injury and played well — so that’s a much-needed boost to the youthful Timberwolves.

The Nuggets are 15-25 on the road. On the other hand, the Nuggets are 8-2 in their last ten games and Minnesota is just 6-4.

The full NBA tiebreaker rules for can be found in their PDF here, but here’s what is what usually needs to be applied: When two teams end the season with the same record, the first tiebreaker is the head-to-head season series. If the two teams split the series, then it comes down to how you performed against your own division – whether you won it outright and then the team’s record against the other teams in their division. That’s not going to matter for Denver-Minnesota. One team is going to have 47 wins and one team is going to have 36 losses, the former going to the NBA Playoffs, the latter going home.


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