In all likelihood, Tuesday's Nuggets-Thunder slugfest was a playoff preview, since Oklahoma City's currently in the fourth position in the west and Denver's ensconced in the fifth. But OKC's only one game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the third slot, and the Nuggets, who just beat the Mavs at home, match up well against Mark Cuban's boys. So... should the Nuggets purposefully tank against the Thunder tonight and root for the Mavs to keep slipping?
Hard to ignore the Nuggets' perennial mastery of the Mavs. Moreover, Dallas is currently on a four-game losing streak -- and the health of many of its key components remains in doubt. Note that Tyson Chandler will reportedly play tonight after missing two games with what was essentially an ass bruise, but Jason Kidd didn't participate in shootaround today, raising speculation that his 38-year-old body is at the breakdown point with the post-season looming.
Granted, the Mavs' schedule isn't exactly daunting. They're home tonight versus the vaunted Los Angeles Clippers. After that, they'll take part in a Sunday home contest against the nothing-to-play-for Phoenix Suns, then a brief trip to Houston on Monday, followed by New Orleans back in D-Town on Wednesday.
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As for Kevin Durant and company, they follow the Nuggets game with a high-profile challenge: the Lakers in L.A. on national television Sunday. But their final two opponents, Sacramento and Milwaukee, are eminently beatable -- although that might not matter. After all, the Mavs hold the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Thunder. Hence, OKC really needs to make up two games on Dallas, not just one.
Given all that, what's my answer to the question posed by this post's headline? I'd never advise a team to intentionally lay down -- but if the Thunder win again tonight, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
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