The Denver Nuggets' season came to an end at the hands of their division rival Minnesota Timberwolves. Throughout the series, both the Nuggets and Timberwolves exchanged blows. The Nuggets were down in a 0-2 hole early, but came storming back to take a 3-2 series lead. The Timberwolves would win Game 6 and force a Game 7. Even though the Nuggets had a 20-point lead at one point in Game 7, they would ultimately end up losing 98-90.

Squandering that large of a lead in a win-or-go-home game undoubtedly left Nuggets players and fans disappointed. According to Jamal Murray, the Nuggets had the opportunities to win in Game 7, but they simply could not cash in on them.

“We had our opportunities tonight, and we didn’t make them, and that’s what stings,” said Murray. “I don’t know. I think we should have won tonight. That’s the tough part. They beat us, but we had so many great opportunities, including myself, so it’s just tough man. I’m excited for next year.”

As defending champions, the Nuggets were the ones being hunted all season. Now with the season being over, they have an opportunity to rest and reload for another title run next season. Heading into next season, they'll also no longer have the pressure of defending a title.

“It's back to being the hunters,” said Murray. “It's back to fighting for something with a different type of edge.”

With the Nuggets going back to the position of being the hunter, according to Murray, they'll have a different kind of motivation next season.

“I think when you’re the hunter, you have so much more motivation, and you grasp onto anything to prove everybody wrong, and you have a constant chip on your shoulder,” said Murray.

Timberwolves get their revenge on the Nuggets

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone talks with forward Aaron Gordon (50) in the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sport

During the 2023 NBA postseason, the Nuggets were the ones who ended the Timberwolves' season in the first round. That series was not nearly as competitive, as the Nuggets would win the series 4-1. Going into the 2024 NBA postseason, the Timberwolves would use the previous playoffs' disappointment as motivation, and it clearly worked.

“We won it last year. Teams in the West, they regrouped, they retooled. How are we going to beat the champs?” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. “And teams got better. You have to tip your cap to Minnesota…that was a helluva series. They gave us all we could handle, and they wound up winning Game 7 on our home court, which is a tough one to swallow.”

Now the Nuggets find themselves in the same position the Timberwolves were in last year. With the season ending so abruptly, they will be using it as motivation going forward.

“Every series is a learning opportunity, and this feeling sucks, as I told our players,” said Malone. “You go through training camp all the way through, and then it comes to an abrupt halt, and that hurts. So, you use that feeling as motivation to come back a better player.”

Even with the series loss, the Nuggets are still considered to be one of the top teams in the league and will undoubtedly make another serious run at a title next season.