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Houston earned talk-of-the-town status by edging San Antonio Sunday and taking hold of the West's No. 2 seed. But quietly -- nay, silently -- Denver has put together a five-game winning streak, slipping up to just one game behind the Rockets, a half-game behind the Spurs. It's the Nuggets -- not the Blazers, Hornets or Jazz -- in position for home court advantage right this minute. So why the silent treatment?
Well, those five straight wins have come against the Wizards, the Nets, the Thunder, the Clippers and the Grizzlies. Only one (Memphis) came on the road ... and Denver won by only two in said contest. The Nuggets trailed by 17 in the second half against the Grizz last week. In March, Denver is 1-4 on the road, with losses in Indiana (!), Detroit, Utah and Sacramento (!!!). In the last two weeks of February, the team lost in Milwaukee and Chicago, too. The road has been incredibly problematic of late for the Nuggets.
On the flip, Phoenix has been great at home! The Suns boast home wins over the Lakers, the hot 76ers, the (erm) wacky Thunder and the (erm) wackier Wizards. The blemishes have come in tight matches against the Mavericks and Cavaliers. If Phoenix has been mediocre this season, it's because the Suns have immense trouble winning away from Arizona, with a 16-18 record on the road.
This would seem to give Phoenix an edge tonight in the desert. But Denver's a better team, and we should get a good game out of it.Philadelphia at Portland, 10 PM ET
Speaking of great home teams -- only Cleveland and L.A. boast better home records than Portland, with the Celtics tied at 28-6. If Portland ends up with a top-4 seed in the West, its first-round opponent should be worried.
But the Blazers (currently in fifth place) need to get there. They'll be helped by seven more games in the Rose Garden, including tonight's fare -- a 76ers team with bad losses in Phoenix and Oakland wedged between a last-minute victory over the Lakers and a wire-to-wire obliteration of the Kings. The 76ers, desperately hoping to avoid the Magic or Celtics in the first round, need this (and every) game. But it looks like the most difficult task of the ending Western road trip.L.A. Clippers at Boston, 7:30 PM ET
Projected margin of victory for Boston, considering that Kevin Garnett is back and the Celtics got beat by the Clippers in L.A. a few weeks ago: 217.Minnesota at Atlanta, 7 PM ET
Chicago at Washington, 7 PM ET
Orlando at New York, 7:30 PM ET
Memphis at Miami, 7:30 PM ET
Monday's NBA Guide: Nuggets in Phoenix, 76ers in Portland originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Mon, 23 Mar 2009 13:15:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.