The Denver Nuggets face a brutal stretch in their schedule in upcoming weeks as they try to cling on to their playoff chances. The Nuggets are currently the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and hold only a one game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers for the final playoff spot.

The Nuggets will face off Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks, coming off back to back wins over the Portland Trailblazers and the New York Knicks. Denver will hope to make it three in a row amidst a daunting set of games to come, in which the Nuggets will go through a gauntlet of playoff teams.

Over the next month, the Nuggets will have to face the San Anotonio Spurs three times (a team in which they have mightily struggled against over the last decade) and the Houston Rockets twice; along with single games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, and Boston Celtics.

The four games following the Mavericks game Saturday night will be a good indicator of if the Nuggets will be able to compete with the likes on the NBA’s elite over the coming month. The Nuggets will face the Celtics Monday night, the Spurs Tuesday, the Thunder Thursday, and the Warriors on Saturday. If the Nuggets want to have any chance during this difficult stretch, they will need Jamaal Murray to continue his tremendous play of late.

Murray has been the lifeblood of the Nuggets offense all season, averaging over 16 points per game and bringing stability to the point guard position. Not only has Murray scored 30-plus points in six games this season, he has also shown great consistency.

After scoring a career high 38 points in the Nuggets Jan. 22 victory over the Trail blazers, the national media began to take notice of Murray’s outstanding performance. In a tweet, ESPN analyst and former Nugget Chauncey Billups said, “That kid is the truth.. I love watching him hoop for my hometown Nuggets.” Murray hit huge shots down the stretch in the fourth quarter of the win over the Trailblazers, out-dueling star point guard Damian Lillard.

The Nuggets undoubtedly have some tough sledding ahead, but there is hope yet for the Nuggets to squeak into the playoffs. With their record currently at 25-23, they sit one game ahead of the Clippers for the eighth seed; but are still only three games back of the Thunder for the fifth seed. There is still a lot of shuffling to be done.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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