DROP THE MIKE
Which team has a better chance of winning a title – the Avs or Nuggets?
Here’s the question: If you had to bet the house on which team makes it to the finals, who you got? The Avs or Nuggets?
Before I make my pick, I understand the Kendrick Perkins-like vitriol that will be coming my way from the offended fan base I don’t choose. That is kind of funny, since we’re talking about two Colorado teams. One would think the great DenverSports.com readers are fans of both. You probably are, but to a point.
If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that there is a hard core group of Avs fans and a hard core group of Nuggets fans, and they exist on their own. They are not willing to share their team or their passion with anyone else. It doesn’t matter that I’m choosing which Colorado team goes to the finals; the fact is the fans of the team I don’t pick will be ticked off. Oh well. Here we go.
I’m picking the Avalanche as having the best chance of the two going to the finals. I understand the Nuggets are having the better regular season. But, the Avs get a pass.
Coming off winning the Stanley Cup, followed by the short summer and then the realization of a long 82-game season looming ahead of them, it was actually predictable the Avs would have an up-and-down season. That’s before you even add in the injuries.
I see a team that knows they’ll be in the playoffs. I see a team that doesn’t really care where they are seeded and whether they have home ice or not. Mostly I know this is a team I can trust until it’s shown I can’t trust them anymore. Winning a Cup builds that kind of belief.
Add in the fact that I think the Western Conference is even weaker than it was a year ago. St. Louis was the only team in the West that would even put up a fight last year. They’ve been dismantled, so who’s left? What team in the West can you point to and say with conviction can beat the Avs four times in a best of seven? I don’t see that team.
When it comes to the case against the Nuggets, let’s start there. I can see a couple of teams that could knock them off four times. Until the stake is driven through the Warriors’ hearts, I’ll always be wary of them. Same goes with the Suns. While I wonder about their ability to gel by playoff time and their overall lack of depth, their star power is daunting.
I absolutely love this Nuggets team. Emphasis on team. In an NBA, where increasingly teams take nights off or outright tank, these Nuggets give you a hard-working, professional effort almost every night. That’s a testament to the leadership of Nikola Jokic. When your best player is your hardest worker and is willing to be coached, then everything rolls downhill nicely from there.
I desperately want the Nuggets to stick it to the NBA establishment that places a gross emphasis on the individual over the team. I’m tired of over-hyped and overrated “superstars.” I’m tired of the pursuit of forming “super teams.” I’m over the ESPNs of the world spending all their time prattling on about teams and players that only matter because of the media markets they play in. It’s nauseating to see a Nuggets team that embodies so many of the characteristics of sports that we claim to love is purposely ignored.
As I’ve said many times before, the only way the Nuggets can change that narrative is to win to a level where the basketball world has no choice but to give them their props. That means the NBA Finals. But unlike the Avs, who have proven their playoff legitimacy, the Nuggets haven’t.
It really is unfair during a season like this, to say “Yeah, but.” The Nuggets are having a special, special season. But…
The Avs were having that same type of regular season last year and wise guys like me kept saying, “It only matters if you do it in the playoffs.” Harsh, but true. It does only matter if you pay it off in the postseason.
The good news is we all know how that worked out for the Avs. Maybe it can happen this time around with the Nuggets. But I asked the question: If you had to pick one, who would it be? For me, it’s the Avs. Let the arguments fly.
Of course, two June parades would make this argument a moot point, right? I’ll be rooting for that as I avoid the slings and arrows of Nuggets Nation.