The Denver Nuggets made a splash in free agency when they added veteran power forward Paul Millsap to pair with Nikola Jokic for one of the most promising frontcourts in the league. Luckily for the Magic, however, neither of these players will be taking the court in Orlando on Friday.
The Orlando Magic enter the game after a dramatic, but sloppy overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. That 5-19 Atlanta team gave the Magic everything they could handle, and the physical game sent Evan Fournier to the locker room with a right ankle sprain, and he will be out for this one.
Injuries and inconsistency have plagued both teams this season. In addition to Fournier, the Magic will be without possible starter Terrence Ross and rookie Jonathan Isaac, both of whom played minutes in the 20s (19.9 for Isaac) before their injuries.
Though Denver is known for their fast-paced offense, which ranks sixth in the league in efficiency, they have two factors that could be working against them in this matchup.
First, the defense has been among the most porous in the league, as the Nuggets are No. 29 out of 30 teams in opponents' field goal percentage allowed and No. 28 in three-point percentage allowed.
Second, the Nuggets have been a totally different team on the road than at home this season. They have compiled a startling 3-9 record on the road, including four straight road losses. Denver has been outscored by an average of nearly 10 points per game (9.9) on the road this season. On this current road trip, the Mavericks and Pelicans each scored over 120 points in their wins over the Nuggets.
But there is one thing that could be tricky for the Magic: offensive rebounding. The Nuggets rank first in the league in offensive rebounding percentage, though that can be attributed partly to the presence of Jokic and Millsap. Despite the strong play of bigs Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, the Magic are No. 29 in the league in defensive rebound percentage.
This is a very winnable game for the Magic, who are favored, but Wednesday's game against the Hawks showed this team not to take such things for granted.
Line: Magic -1.5 (OddsShark)
Magic — Evan Fournier (Ankle) – OUT; Jonathan Isaac (Ankle) – OUT; Terrence Ross (Knee) – OUT
Nuggets — Nikola Jokic (Anke) – OUT; Paul Millsap (Wrist) – OUT