Preview: Denver Nuggets look for win against Orlando Magic

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (10-10) might be meeting their match in terms of teams that are dealing with injuries in their matchup tonight against the Orlando Magic (4-18) as they’re currently without five different rotation players, including star rookie Jalen Suggs. Denver is in the midst of a long road trip on the East coast, and this matchup against Orlando is one they can’t afford to drop.

Denver had been in a massive slide prior to Monday night’s win over the Miami Heat, and they were glad to finally get superstar center Nikola Jokic back into the lineup, who went right to work with 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. They also got rookie Bones Hyland back who poured in 19 points in just 21 minutes on the floor. In a crowded Western conference, with seven teams within one game of each other between fourth and 10th place, Denver can’t afford to lose too many winnable games.

For Orlando, this team is building for the futures, and they’re just trying to figure out which players are going to be there for the long haul. The hardest part about that is this team can’t get healthy at the same time, and that leaves them still with more questions than answers. They’ve had a rough start to the year, but they still play feisty basketball on a regular basis.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (10-10, 3-6 away) @ Orlando Magic (4-18, 1-8 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 Cole Anthony, SG Gary Harris, SF Franz Wagner, PF Wendell Carter Jr., C Mo Bamba

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Jalen Suggs (thumb), Markelle Fultz (knee), Jonathan Isaac (knee), E’Twaun Moore (knee), Michael Carter-Williams (ankle), JaMychal Green (elbow)

Three Things to Watch

Nikola Jokic vs Magic Frontcourt

Few teams have the raw size up front to match up with Jokic. The Magic are one of those teams with four different active players measuring 6’10” or taller. Jokic is still talented enough to win his matchups, but you don’t want to force him to bounce off of those defenders all game long. If the Magic are physical with Jokic early, it’ll be on Michael Malone to find ways to get him looks in space where the physicality is lessened.

Keep Hyland Involved

In his first game back from injury, Hyland was lighting up the scoreboard off of the bench. He had 19 points in 21 minutes, but he only took nine shots from the field. That is the type of explosive scoring pop that the Nuggets need off of the bench, especially with players like Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. out of the lineup. Getting him involved early and often will only help build the rookie’s confidence.

Get A Win & Get Out

The Magic have the worst record in the Eastern Conference, and they’ve lost two more games than anyone else this season. They’re reeling with injuries, and the Nuggets finally got some reinforcements. With a tough stretch of games over the course of the next few weeks, they can’t drop an easy one like this. They need to get in and out in one piece with a win in their back pocket.

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