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Preview: Three keys as the Denver Nuggets host the Orlando Magic

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Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin are out, and the Nuggets' point guards must take advantage.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic sit near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, surprising everyone en route to an 8-4 record. They have wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans. Those are some impressive wins, and while they are entering Saturday night against Denver on the second night of a back to back, they are far from an easy out.

On the other hand, the Nuggets are looking to finish off their homestand with their 5th win out of 6 tries. A win would make for as impressive a homestand as Denver has had in the Michael Malone era and a great springboard into the team’s most high-profile game of the season, a road trip on Monday to face Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trailblazers. A win could also vault Denver all the way to 3rd in the Western conference.

Injury Report

Juancho Hernangomez has been upgraded to questionable (mono).

Gary Harris has been added to the injury report as questionable with right shoulder soreness.

Three-point defense

The Magic rank 1st in the NBA in three-point percentage and 5th in three-point field goals made. This might be due to an unsustainable hot streak to open the season but even if that’s the case, Denver is going to have to run them off of the line and keep their three-point shooting in check. Denver is allowing the 4th most three-pointers made per game. Whichever team can win this battleground will have an enormous leg up on the game.

On the flip side, Orlando is allowing the 2nd fewest three-point attempts per game and the lowest percentage on such attempts. With Gary Harris listed as “questionable” for tonight’s game, it will be up to Denver to win the three-point contest or at least keep the deficit to a minimum.

Offensive rebounding

One place that Denver can dominate tonight is on the glass. Denver ranks 5th in offensive rebound rate while Orlando allows the 5th most offensive rebounds per 100 possessions. Denver needs to own the glass and produce as many second chance points as possible.

Turnovers

Turnovers will be a battleground for every Nuggets game this season. 14 seems to be the magic number for the Nuggets. In wins, they are averaging just 14.3. In Losses, that number jumps to 17.4. The Magic like to run, playing at the league’s 5th fastest pace. That will be difficult to maintain at altitude on the 2nd night of a back-to-back but Denver can help slow them down on the offensive end by limiting turnovers.

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