When our Denver Nuggets were slogging through November and December with one road game after another after another, it seemed as though we'd be much more concerned about out-competing Houston, Utah, Minnesota and Portland for playoff positioning than we'd be with Memphis, Golden State and Los Angeles (the Clippers, of course, not those selfish, self-imploding Lakers).

But after wrapping up January with a splendid 12-3 record (including home losses to Minnesota and Washington, no less) and kicking off February with a solid home win against New Orleans to complete a six-game winning streak ... and counting ... the Nuggets are serious contenders for the four-seed. And this fan is thinking bigger than that.

No, the Nuggets won't "compete for the division" as head coach George Karl proclaimed their goal to be at the start of training camp. But give Karl credit where credit is due - the January Western Conference Coach of the Month has his team positioned to compete for home court advantage in the first round by garnishing either the third or the fourth seed. With a little help from the Clippers - who have lost six of their last 10 - the Nuggets find themselves just 3.5 games back of that third position.

Suddenly, the Nuggets ceiling has gone from four to three.