On this day in 2001, the Colorado Avalanche captured the Stanley Cup on their home ice at the then-named Pepsi Center (currently known as Ball Arena). During that same season, the Denver Nuggets, the Avs' arena roommates, finished 40-42. It's because of the Avs that I'm fascinated by Denver sports, but the overall success hasn't really been there. Interestingly, the Avalanche's 1996 Stanley Cup was Colorado's first pro sports championship. This was followed by a pair of Super Bowl wins by the Denver Broncos, and the aforementioned second Cup by the Avalanche. The Broncos and Avs each added a third championship later on, and while MLB's Colorado Rockies have yet to win a World Series, they did win a pennant in 2007.
The Denver Nuggets were the odd team out overall, as since the Rockies' 2007 pennant, the Nuggets had been the only one out of The Centennial State's main franchises who have never evern played for a championship. That changed this year, and in this year's NBA Finals, the Nuggets led 2-1 over the Miami Heat. Game Four becomes pivotal when there's a 2-1 series after three games. The Nuggets have a chance to take full control, and they'll need to, as the Heat are looking to regain some semblance of home court and even this thing up. The first quarter looked as if Miami would be off on that good start, as Kyle Lowry's bank-shot buzzer beater gave the Heat a one point advantage.
That, however, is where the positives end for the Heat. The Nuggets took over with a 35-point 2nd quarter to enter the halftime break with a four point lead, and the second half saw them pick up where they left off. Miami had absolutely no answers for the Nuggets after that first quarter, and it absolutely showed. No matter what the Heat did, the Nuggets matched it and then some, and it resulted in a 108-95 win for the road team.
So who was the leader this time? None other than Aaron Gordon, who had 27 points in the Nuggets' victory. I've been a fan of Aaron Gordon since I saw him in the dunk contest some time ago (back when he was a member of the Orlando Magic). It does help this New York Yankees fan that he does bear a bit of a resemblance to Aaron Judge, but the guy is just good and underrated. Everyone talks about either Nikola Jokic or Jamal Murray; no one really talks a lot about Gordon. He's more than just a dunk player, I've seen it for years. He's one of the best players on this Nuggets team, and this run has absolutely proved it.
So the Denver Nuggets took the road games, and as a result, they are one win away from a big celebration that is 47 years in the making. A 3-1 series lead is a good thing to have; it usually means certain victory. History is on the Nuggets' side--only one team in NBA history has ever blown a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, and that happened to be the famed 73-9 Golden State Warriors team in 2016. I severely doubt we'll see a comeback here. The Heat appear to be out of gas; they had that road win in Game Two, but they've been unable to build off that. There's no way Miami wins three straight games here.
Game Five is Monday back in Denver, and that city could be celebrating for the second straight year.
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