For any Western Conference team sitting outside the playoff picture, it’s natural to be envious of teams residing in the East.
The Denver Nuggets are a perfect example. Currently 11th in the West, the Nuggets (27-35) would be eighth in the Eastern Conference, just a game-and-a-half behind the Charlotte Bobcats (29-34).
Denver faces the Bobcats on Monday night in Charlotte to open a stretch of four straight road games against the East. The Nuggets play at Orlando on Wednesday and then end the week with a back-to-back set Friday at Miami and Saturday at Atlanta.
Denver is 12-12 against the East this season.
Here’s a quick look at each opponent:
Behind center Al Jefferson (21.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg), the Bobcats are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They routed the Indiana Pacers and then beat the Cleveland Cavaliers at home last week before losing at Memphis. Charlotte beat the Nuggets at Pepsi Center on Jan. 29.
The Magic are 2-8 in the past 10 games, with the two victories coming at home against the New York Knicks (24-40) and Philadelphia 76ers (15-47). The Nuggets beat Orlando in Denver on Jan. 11 and can sweep the season series for just the second time since 1992.
After winning 11 of 12, the Heat are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Miami will look to get back on track at home against the Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets before the Nuggets hit South Beach. The Heat won in Denver on Dec. 30.
It’s been tough sledding for the Hawks since early February. After managing to stay above .500 in the first five weeks without injured center Al Horford, Atlanta has lost 14 of 15. Despite the slide, the Hawks are still the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.