Nuggets injury report for Game 82 shows how little the No. 1 seed means to Denver

The Denver Nuggets are not particularly worried about the No. 1 seed from the looks of it.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

We have arrived at the final day of the NBA regular season and folks, it's a doozy. There are a lot of postseason implications for today's games, especially at the top of the Western Conference. For the first time in league history, we have three teams tied for the best record with one game left. The Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Oklahoma City Thunder all have a chance to claim the West's No. 1 overall seed.

The playoff scenarios are as follows, per The Athletic:

  • Denver gets the No. 1 seed with a win and losses from OKC and Minnesota
  • Minnesota gets the No. 1 seed with a win and a Denver loss
  • OKC gets the No. 1 seed if all three win or all three lose, or if it wins and Minnesota loses
  • Denver moves up to second if it wins and one of the other teams loses

So, in theory, each of the West's top contenders has something to play for Sunday evening. That isn't deterring the Nuggets from throwing their final game of the season, though.

Nuggets plan to rest starters despite potential No. 1 seed implications

The Nuggets' entire starting five, as well as their primary backup point guard, is on the injury report. While the "questionable" tag doesn't carry any guarantees, it's no coincidence that the entire core has suddenly come down with a mysterious malady. The Nuggets are going to tank the game.

Now, the real question is, does resting the entire starting lineup really matter against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been putting out historically long injury reports all season? Maybe not. We definitely cannot rule out the possibility of Denver's reserve gang winning the game and claiming No. 1 overall.

That said, the Nuggets are clearly comfortable in the No. 2 or 3 spots. Arguably, that would be the ideal landing spot, as it allows Denver to avoid the Dallas-Clippers side of the bracket. A second-round matchup with the Timberwolves or Thunder isn't necessarily a cakewalk, but Denver would face an opponent with less postseason experience and more favorable matchups. That Minnesota matchup is tricky, though, so Denver needs to tread carefully no matter the outcome.

OKC will face the Dallas Mavericks with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both sitting out. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, face a Phoenix Suns team still locked in a tight battle for postseason seeding. One could argue that Minnesota should prefer the No. 2 seed, but it's hard to guarantee an outcome at this point in the season.

That said, the most likely outcome here is that Denver losses (on purpose), while the Thunder (with a clean injury report) takes care of business against the depleted Mavs. The Wolves are notably listing Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns as questionable against Phoenix, but the availability of Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, and others signals a desire to win the game. We will see how strong that desire is Sunday night.

In short, it's a mess, but we know Denver is gunning for the No. 3 seed, which is all but guaranteed with a loss.