The Denver Nuggets desperately wanted to make the playoffs to get their new young roster some experience under pressure.
In coach George Karl's mind, they got a jumpstart on that.
Karl had his team treat the last seven regular season games as a playoff series, suggesting Denver had to win at least four to reach the postseason for a ninth straight season.
They won six, moving up the Western Conference ladder to the No. 6 seed and a first-round date with the Los Angeles Lakers instead of the resurgent San Antonio Spurs or the powerful Oklahoma City Thunder.
''I think it's very impressive because if you consider all the injuries we had, all the trade stuff, a lot of things happened this year but we're still here in the playoffs,'' Danilo Gallinari said. ''I thought we played a great season.''
Despite making the playoffs every season since 2003-04, the Nuggets have advanced out of the first round just once in that span, and many fans figure they're first-round fodder again with a r...