As the NBA schedule draws closer to the regular season resuming, the Nuggets are set to face the Orlando Magic tonight in their final exhibition game.
While the other exhibition games have seen the Nuggets throw out their “Monstars” lineup with the shortest player checking in at around 6’7” (Jerami Grant or Torrey Craig), it remains to be seen if head coach Michael Malone will try to put a more normal starting lineup out on the court as the team returns to full availability.
Jamal Murray has been resting from exhibition games, while participating in practices, in order to try to preserve his health, but could be available to get minutes tonight. Other members of the team that have not been present at practices or games due to positive Covid-19 tests, such as Gary Harris and Michael Porter Jr., have joined the team in the DisneyWorld bubble and could also be available to play.
The Magic haven’t won any exhibition games yet, not that it matters, but could put forward more of an effort as they try to clinch a playoff spot and finish off the Washington Wizards early in the regular season restart.
Who: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic
Why: Because the NBA said they have to play
When: 5:00 PM MT
How to Watch: NBA League Pass, Altitude
|PG||D.J. Augustin||NIkola Jokic||?|
|SG||Evan Fournier||Jerami Grant||?|
|SF||James Ennis III||Torrey Craig||Even|
|PF||Aaron Gordon||Paul Millsap||Nuggets|
|C||Nikola Vucevic||Mason Plumlee||Magic|
|BENCH||Terrence Ross, Michael Carter-Williams, Markelle Fultz, Wes Iwundu, Jonathan Isaac, Khem Birch, Melvin Frazier, Mo Bamba||Tyler Cook, Troy Daniels, Noah Vonleh, Will Barton, Jamal Murray, Bol Bol, Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris||Nuggets|
Three Things to Watch
Will the Covid crew get minutes? The Nuggets had their fair share of players impacted by Covid-19 that had their arrival in Orlando postponed as a result. It appears that several of them have tested negative and should be available to play tonight. I know I can’t be the only Nuggets fan that would like to see Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Keita Bates-Diop, Michael Porter Jr., and Monte Morris get minutes on the court.
Will Bol Bol play? The Nuggets have wisely allowed Bol Bol to get minutes in the exhibition games, which I think preserves his rookie eligibility. He’s been exciting to watch on the court, but with more players healthy and available, and the regular season nigh upon us, the coaching staff may decide that they need to give their regular rotation players run. While Bol has been great, I don’t think he’s come close to cracking the rotation. But if the coaching staff treats the first few regular season games as additional exhibition games, I’d expect to see Bol get more run. The team needs to know what he’s capable of, and this is a great opportunity. I’d love to see him matched up against Mo Bamba and see who wins that matchup, the former No. 6 overall pick or the second-round prospect who is still finding his feet.
Turnovers. The Nuggets Monstar lineup has been sloppy, which is to be expected. They’ve never played that lineup together outside of a few closed practices, and they didn’t have any ballhandling guards. Hopefully as the entire team gets back into the rhythm of playing basketball as a team, they’re able to clean things up and avoid wasting possessions.