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NBA Playoff Photo: Nuggets’ stunning loss to Spurs opens No. 1 seed for Timberwolves, Thunder

The Denver Nuggets held the No. 1 seed in the West after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Then Victor Wembanyama happened.

The NBA Rookie of the Year favorite led the last-place Spurs to a stunning 121-120 victory over the defending champions on Friday, scoring 34 points on 12-for-27 shooting with 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. That included an otherworldly stretch of 17 points in three minutes, plus a crucial block from Nikola Jokić in crunch time.

The winning basket was delivered by Devonte’ Graham, who worked through Jamal Murray in transition to put the Spurs ahead with 0.9 seconds left.

If the Nuggets had taken care of business against the 21-60 Spurs, they would have been well in front of the first seed in the West. After beating the Timberwolves, Denver was one game ahead of both Minnesota and the Oklahoma City Thunder with two to play, both against non-playoff teams. All they had to do was win.

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Now all three teams are tied at 56-25. Instead of just needing to beat the 27-54 Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, the Nuggets need both the Thunder and the Timberwolves to lose on Sunday because they have no tiebreakers. The Thunder play at home against the Dallas Mavericks, while the Timberwolves play at home against the Phoenix Suns.

Here’s how the tiebreaks all work out: via Andrew Lopez of ESPN:

All three teams win or lose: 1. Thunder, 2. Timberwolves, 3. Nuggets

Thunder and Timberwolves win, Nuggets lose: 1. Timberwolves, 2. Thunder, 3. Nuggets

Thunder and Nuggets win, Timberwolves lose: 1. Thunder, 2. Nuggets, 3. Timberwolves

Timberwolves and Nuggets win, Thunder lose: 1. Timberwolves, 2. Nuggets, 3. Thunder

The Nuggets get the easiest opponent of that trio, but perhaps the worst position.

Every other NBA team with playoffs on Sunday

The top of the Western Conference isn’t the only spot up for grabs heading into Sunday. Here’s every other team that has something to play for. You can view the full NBA standings here.

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East No. 2 seed

The New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks are currently tied for second in the East at 49-32, with the Cleveland Cavaliers a game behind them. The Bucks get the second seed with a win over the Orlando Magic, the Knicks get it if they beat the Chicago Bulls and the Bucks lose, and the Cavaliers get it if they win and the Knicks and Bucks lose.

East No. 5 and 6 seeds

The Magic, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers are all in fifth place at 46-35, while the Miami Heat loom in eighth place at 45-36. This leaves four teams fighting for two spots in the playoffs, instead of having to play in the play-in tournament.

If each team wins, it will be the Magic and Pacers in the playoffs.

West No. 6 seed

The New Orleans Pelicans hold the last spot in the automatic playoffs at 49-32, but the Phoenix Suns are right behind them at 48-33 and hold the tiebreaker. The Suns will have to beat the Timberwolves and the Pelicans before losing to the Lakers to bounce out of the play-in tournament.

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West No. 8 seed

The Lakers hold onto second place in the better play-in matchup at 46-35, while the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors are in ninth place at 45-36. A Lakers win over the Pelicans will give you the No. 8 seed, but the Kings and Warriors will both have the head-to-head tiebreaker over them (the Kings will have the tiebreaker over the Warriors). A three-way tie would win the Kings.

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