Strictly in terms of their record thus far, the Denver Nuggets have gotten off to a solid start this season. With nine wins and six losses, they have a .600 winning percentage – on pace to win 49 games – and are in fifth place in the Western Conference standings. This puts them slightly ahead of the preseason Las Vegas over/under line, which had them at 45.5 wins (.555) and sixth in the West.
The Nuggets have a tough path ahead to maintain this trajectory, however, as in their 21 remaining games through the end of December, they have just 7 at home and 14 on the road, a 2:1 ratio.
This impending road-heavy stretch lies in stark contrast as the inverse of their schedule up to this point, in which Denver has played 9 games at home and 6 on the road. They’ve made big gains from their home court advantage, with the bulk of their wins coming at the Pepsi Center, where they have gone 7-2 (.778). Their 2-4 (.333) road record, on the other hand, paints a more concerning picture with such a big load of away games on the horizon.
Nevertheless, as shown in the above chart, I have projected the Nuggets going 12-9 in the remaining stretch of 2017 through their final December game on the 30th at home versus the Philadelphia 76ers. If my predictions prove correct (at least in total wins and losses if not game for game), this would mean they drop from their current record of .600 to .583 (21-15) to close out the year.
While the details of my projections will almost certainly be off, I feel fairly confident about them winning around 11 or 12 of these 21 games. Although they will be playing away quite a lot, including the season’s second six-game road trip, they face many beatable opponents in those matchups. In addition, two of their four games played on the second night of back-to-backs during this window are what most would consider “schedule losses” at the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors, somewhat mitigating more widespread damage from the SEGABABA effect.
Some other notes on the Nuggets’ remaining 2017 schedule:
- Denver has six games against division rivals in this stretch: Utah and Minnesota twice each, and Oklahoma City and Portland once apiece.
- 15 of these upcoming 21 games are against Western Conference teams.
- 13 of Denver’s opponents in this stretch have .500 or better records, but this excludes the Thunder and Jazz, both of which project to end up as winning teams.
So the Nuggets have a very road-heavy and challenging schedule to close 2017, featuring a mix of very tough matchups and should-win games. The number of road games elevates the importance of finishing above .500 through this window in order to stay in the 5-7 seed range where they’ve been so far, and put themselves in strong playoff positioning going approaching the end of the season.
With their offense finally starting to come together, I believe the Nuggets can clear that mark, though likely by a slim margin of two to three games.