The Come Up: The tussle for No. 2

Monday means the Come Up, and with only a month left in the season the seeding crunch is upon us. Dallas heads into the week a half game back of the Nuggets for the No. 2 seed. Dallas is 2 1/2 up on fourth-place Utah, which lost to the Thunder on Sunday night, and the Nuggets are three back of the West’s best Lakeshow. We’re standings watchin’ and it a go a ‘lil summin’ like this:

A busy week of practice

The Mavs have only two games this week -- both at home. So that means a chance for the rare practice and rest-up schedule. On Wednesday they host a Bulls team they just beat in Chicago a week ago that is pretty beat up and rapidly falling out of the playoff chase after having lost seven in a row. The spectacular Derrick Rose has been sitting with a sprained wrist suffered when he ran into a wall named Dwight Howard. Chicago will also be playing the second night of a back-to-back after having played in Memphis the night before. Same situation as the Knicks who came in from Memphis on Saturday night to beat Dallas by 34.

Then they’ll see a Boston team Saturday night that isn’t exactly streaking to the finish line. In their last ten, the Celtics have beaten Detroit, Charlotte, Philly, Indy and the Wiz. But they’ve lost to the Cavs (twice), Memphis, Milwaukee and the uhhh, the Nets. If the Mavs don’t come out with energy against a Boston team that plays Houston the night before when the Mavs will have played only one game in the previous six nights, then we’ve got some reason for concern.

A busy week of mediocre opponents

While the Mavs are resting up and focusing on a light schedule of two home games, Denver is playing a full week with four contests it could definitely sweep and end up with a salty ten-game winning streak. The Nuggets finish up a four-game road trip at Houston on Monday night before hosting three straight beginning Tuesday against the Wiz. If the Wiz hadn’t lost seven straight, then that’s a tough scheduling hiccup. But yes, the Wiz have lost seven straight. Denver will see a scrappy Hornets team Thursday night, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see Team Melo go into Saturday night’s game against the Bucks with a nine-game win streak. But therein lies the rub: John Hollinger and Cheryl Miller have me convinced that Milwaukee will never lose again. They’re pretty much unbeatable with John Salmons. So surely that’s an L.

And then it gets really interesting for the tussle for No. 2 -- Denver will embark on a five-game trip that ends in Dallas on March 29 -- so very magically delicious. Circle it ...