June 13, 2021
And now, the Nuggets are done, too.
Within a four-day
span, both they and the Avalanche have lost second-round series and have been eliminated from the postseason.
In case you missed
it, here's my view of the Avalanche exit. This was disappointing underachievement and an unraveling that should go down as a bit of a flashback to the franchise's
earlier glory years, when the two Stanley Cup celebrations came with realizations that the Avs could have -- and should have
-- won at least one more title in that span. This one got away, too.
In the Nuggets' case, the aura
of disappointment had more to do with their inexcusable lack of competitiveness in getting swept by the entertaining Suns
than not at least getting to the Conference finals for the second season in a row. Jamal Murray's absence ultimately was debilitating,
but it didn't excuse the Nuggets appearing so overmatched.
There should have been a middle ground between Avalanche coach
Jared Bednar's premature panic move of breaking up his top line and, in a different situation, Nuggets coach Michael Malone's
stubbornness in not making changes earlier in the series.
I'm not making excuses
for anyone, but I'm also not here with a lame and fill-in-the-blanks diatribe from the post-series reaction template.
Giving credit where
credit is due is not gulping Kool-Aid.
Although the playoff showings deservedly are considered disappointments,
Denver's winter sports seasons -- with the two teams both playing under the Kroenke Sports and Entertainment banner and technically
owned by Ann Kroenke -- were praiseworthy and even remarkable.
I've addressed the impressive reality that Denver had the top NBA/NHL player tandem of the 16
markets with teams in both leagues. And I did it before Nikola Jokic was named the NBA's MVP and Nathan MacKinnon was announced
as one of the three finalists for the Hart Troophy. That look at the market player tandems is here.
Yet one of the reasons this was so disappointing was that
the teams built expectations with their regular seasons, with the Nuggets after Murray's exit doing it with a less-than-glittery
See the chart
below, essentially creating combined NBA and NHL standings for those 16 markets. As you'll see, I used some flexibility in
is No. 1. Combining the standings, the Nuggets and Avalanche finished six games ahead of the runnerup, Long Island (Nets
and Islanders) in the regular season.
Denver was one of only
five markets that had both the NBA and NHL teams in the playoffs. The other four: Washington (Wizards and Capitals), Boston
(Celtics and Bruins), Miami (Heat and Panthers), and Long Island.
Only Denver and Long Island had both teams in the
Now, the Nets are tied 2-2 in their second-round series against Milwaukee. The surprising Islanders have won two
series and advanced to the Stanley Cup semifinals against Tampa Bay. They even won the opener 2-1 behind former Avalanche
goalie Semyon Varlamov.
going by only what's happened so far, Long Island will be the playoff champion from my Group of 16 tandem-team markets. If
the Nets go on to get past the Bucks after the homecourt held up the first four games (sound familiar?), the gap between No.
1 (Long Island) and No. 2 will be considerable.
So was the Avalanche
and Nuggets' combined showings in the postseason fair game for criticism?
But any stand that refuses to give both teams credit for what they did accomplish
-- individually and in tandem -- shouldn't be taken seriously.
1, #DENVER 86-42
Nuggets 47-25, W, L
Nets 48-24, W, *
Islanders 32-24, W, W, *
Heat 40-32, L
Panthers 37-19, L
4, PHOENIX 75-53
Suns 51-21, W, *
5, #PHILADELPHIA 74-54
76ers 49-23, W, *
6, #WASHINGTON 70-58
Wizards 34-38, L
Capitals 36-20, L
7, #BOSTON 69-59
Celtics 36-23, L
Bruins 33-23, W, L
8, #NEW YORK 68-60
Knicks 41-31, L
9, #DALLAS 65-63
Mavericks 42-30, L
10, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Clippers 47-25, W, *
11, #LOS ANGELES 63-65
Lakers 42-30, L
12, #TORONTO 62-66
Maple Leafs 35-21, L
13, SAN FRANCISO BAY 60-68
14, MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL
Wild 35-21, L
15, #CHICAGO 55-73
16, #DETROIT 39-89
Red Wings 19-37
-- Because the NBA played 72 games, the NHL 56, this gives
slightly more weight to NBA standings. But not so much to create misleading win totals. If you want to multiply the NHL reconds
by the appropriate co-efficient (1.28) and retotal, be my guest.
-- This treats the NHL's overtime
and shootout losses simply as losses. For example, the Avalanche's 39-13-4 record becomes 39-17 here.
"W" following a team's record is a playoff series win, "L" is a playoff series loss, * is a playoff series
still in progress.
-- I admit I've done some creative alignment to have two-team pairings in markets,
most notably with the Clippers and Ducks as Southern California, leaving the Lakers and Kings as Los Angeles.
-- "#" means the two teams play in the same arena.