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Preview: Denver Nuggets try to stay streaking against the Orlando Magic

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Can the Nuggets make it four in a row?

Darrell Armstrong carries a TV

Things are going well for the Denver Nuggets. Smack in the middle of a five game homestand the Nuggets have won all three home contests thus far. Tonight they look to continue their winning ways with the Orlando Magic in town. Orlando is in the opposite scenario. Half way through a four game road trip and losers of four of their last five, the Magic are looking to get back on track.

To Orlando’s credit they’ve faced a murderer’s row of opponents during their down swing. They also only recently got Nikola Vucevic back from an ankle injury. The Magic bring a young but athletic and talented lineup to the table with the likes of Jonathan Isaac, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon rounding out the lineup next to Vucevic. If Markelle Fultz ever finds his shot Orlando could be onto something special.

The Basics

Who: Orlando Magic (12-15) at Denver Nuggets (17-8)

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post

Projected Matchups

Position Nuggets Kings Advantage
Position Nuggets Kings Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Corey Joseph Nuggets
SG Gary Harris Buddy Hield Even
SF Will Barton III Harrison Barnes Even
PF Paul Millsap Nemanja Bjelica Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Richaun Holmes Nuggets
Bench Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr., Malik Beasley, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee Yogi Ferrell, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin James Nuggets

Injured players: Paul Millsap - game time decision (quad), Al-Farouq Aminu - out (knee)

Key Matchup: Nikola Jokic vs Nikola Vucevic

Denver Nuggets v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s no doubt that the Nikolas are the marquee matchup tonight. Two of the best at their craft, whoever wins the battle at center tonight will have a good chance at leading his team to overall victory. Both centers played well against one another in the last meeting. Vuc’ ended up with the bigger stat line, but it was Joker who walked away with the W. The main key will be for Jokic to stay out of foul trouble. Vucevic’s range will draw Mason Plumlee away from the rim and hamper a lot of Denver’s defense if Jokic is forced to sit early.

Main thing to watch for: will the Nuggets get back to defense?

The Nuggets won the first matchup of the season against the Magic with stifling defense. However, they’ve been sliding a bit on that end. Denver has allowed their opponents to score 99 or more points in nine of their last eleven games and are just 5-4 in those nine games. The Magic are not exactly an offensive juggernaut this season. They rank near the bottom of the league in scoring and shooting efficiency. Tonight is as good a night as any for the Nuggets to finally put it all together and have a strong defensive showing while also remaining aggressive and playing through Jokic on offense.

Opening thought: these are the games you’re supposed to win

The Magic are better than their record indicates and like I said above, it’s been a really tough go in terms of the schedule lately. Still, they are not at the same level as the Nuggets. Denver dropped a pair of winnable games in recent weeks (losses to the Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets) but they’ve got back on track with this home stand. Nonetheless that road trip was abysmal so for Denver to really get back into the conversation of being a finals contender it’ll go a long way to sweep this home stand. They’ve got two winnable games left to do it and it starts tonight with Orlando.