Well, that was an eventful evening we just had, but the Denver Nuggets (38-17) are in action tonight as they start a three-game road trip against the Orlando Magic (22-33). The Nuggets will play three Southeast division teams before returning home, and tonight starts a string of five road games in six outings for Denver. Meanwhile, tonight will be the second of three games at home for Orlando.
The Nuggets are 6-4 in their last 10 contests, and they’re riding high after throttling the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night by 34 in a game that wasn’t even as close as that final score would indicate. They currently reside at the top of the Western Conference, and they’ll be looking to maintain that hold with a strong road trip ahead of the All-Star Break.
For the Magic, they’re 5-5 over their last 10 games including wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics during that stretch. This Magic team has shown flashes of strong play this year, but they’ve struggled overall with consistency, especially with players going in and out of the lineup. This young core will be looking to continue to grow down the back half of this season.
Who: Denver Nuggets (38-17, 12-13 away) vs Orlando Magic (22-33, 13-14 home)
When: 5:00 p.m. MST
Where: Amway Center
How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Orlando. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio
Rival Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post
Expected Starting Lineups:
ORL: PG Markelle Fultz, SG Gary Harris, SF Franz Wagner, PF Paolo Banchero, C Wendell Carter Jr.
DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic
Injuries: Jamal Murray (knee) QUESTIONABLE, Zeke Nnaji (shoulder) DOUBTFUL, Collin Gillsespie (leg) OUT, Gary Harris (groin) QUESTIONABLE, Mo Bamba (suspension) OUT
Three Things to Watch
Nikola Jokic vs Orlando Frontcourt
For whatever reason over the last two years, Nikola Jokic has had some tough battles against the Magic frontcourt. They split the games last year with Jokic shooting below 50 percent from the field in both matchups, and he had to hit a stepback 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat them at home earlier this season. This is a nearly fully healthy Nuggets team, but Orlando remains one of the teams that gives them consistent fits.
Second Unit Minutes
All season long, the Nuggets’ biggest Achilles heel has been their second unit. Whenever the starters are off of the floor, the offenses often becomes stagnant, and the defense just isn’t consistent enough. While Orlando isn’t the league’s best team, they do have surprisingly good depth. If the starters can keep the game close for the Magic, their second unit is good enough to give them leads when they head for a breather.
Don’t Start Flat
After putting up 49 points in the first quarter on Tuesday, the Nuggets were able to coast for much of the game against Minnesota. The starters were able to rest for the entire fourth quarter, so they should be fresh out of the gate. With that additional rest, take advantage of it by controlling the game rather than trying to wrest that control away from Orlando.