NUGGETS

Ball Arena failures were stunning collapses by the Nuggets and Avs

May 21, 2024, 4:00 AM

Ball Arena became a detriment to the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche during the 2024 playoffs.

Who could’ve seen that coming?

After both teams were great at home during the regular season and in their respective Round 1 series, the Nuggets and Avs fell apart in stunning fashion.

They went a combined 1-6 at Ball Arena, sending fans to the exits unhappy time and time again in the month of May. It’s fitting both their seasons ended 44 hours apart at home, both equally gut punching for how they happened.

On Friday night, the Avalanche had a 1-0 lead on the Dallas Stars and had many great chances to add on. They couldn’t do it, and Dallas eventually sent the game to overtime at 1-1 and then double overtime.

You know by now both Zach Parise and Artturi Lehkonen had great chances to win it, but couldn’t get the puck past Stars goalie Jake Oettinger in the second OT.

And then Matt Duchene, a villain in Denver who forced his way out for a chance to win, ended Colorado’s season. Obviously Duchene’s logic was terrible, as the Avalanche broke through and took home a Stanley Cup while it felt like he was putting on a new sweater every year.

The finality of championship dreams ending doesn’t get any worse than the hockey playoffs in overtime. It’s a sick feeling seeing the puck hit the back of the net, all that work since last August completely out the window.

For an encore, the Nuggets gagging might have stung even worse.

They were up 20 on Minnesota in the third quarter in Game 7, and it truly felt like one or two more baskets and the Wolves were ready to roll over and die. Instead, Denver gave them life, and they seized it and then some, going a monster run to end the Nuggets’ hopes of going back-to-back.

Monday in the Mile High City hadn’t felt this bad since Rahim Moore watched Joe Flacco fling a football over his head more than a decade ago and prevent the 2012 Broncos from winning a Super Bowl in Peyton Manning’s first year.

When Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray go for a combined 69 points, you don’t imagine the season ending. The problem is they got almost no help from their teammates, with not a single other guy even reaching double-digits.

Both the Avalanche and Nuggets enter the offseason loaded with questions. For the Avs, it’s the status of Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin. Their situations couldn’t be more different, but both futures remain murky. Even head coach Jared Bednar couldn’t commit to how all that is going to shake out when he met with the media early Saturday morning.

For the basketball team, there’s real questions if Michael Porter Jr. fits in their plans. He makes a ton of money and scored nine points or fewer in five of the seven games with the Timberwolves. If a trade partner can be found, freeing up a huge amount of salary cap space may be tempting for GM Calvin Booth.

We should be talking about the Western Conference Finals beginning this week for both teams. Each had the talent to do it, they just came up short at Ball Arena. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it.

Instead, we’ve got the Rockies losing 110 games to monitor and another double-digit loss Broncos season on the horizon. Bo Nix could be the answer at quarterback, but every rookie goes through growing pains.

Nope, there will be no parades. And now after watching the baseball and football team lose and lose some more, we have to grind through two 82-game regular seasons just to get back to this very same spot. And that’s hoping for another championship.

A lot can change in life in 365 days, and that’s how long we will wait for the Nuggets and Avalanche to get another shot. It stinks, and the failures at Ball Arena will sting for months — or years.

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Ball Arena failures were stunning collapses by the Nuggets and Avs