Orlando Magic vs. Denver Nuggets (March 23, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic will have Evan Fournier in their back pocket as they enter free agency. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic will have Evan Fournier in their back pocket as they enter free agency. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic begin their three-game homestand with the trade deadline casting a cloud over the entire roster as the season seems to be finally at a head.

Orlando Magic (14-28) vs. Denver Nuggets (25-17)


7 p.m./FOX Sports Florida





 on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Tonight in Orlando; April 4 in Denver

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic enter the game in a bit of a cloud. Everyone knows the NBA trade deadline is coming up and now the report of Aaron Gordon requesting a trade has leaked to the media. Did the team already know and understand this? Players often react to these trade rumors much differently than fans imagine. But the deadline is here. The team had its last hurrah. What will be the team’s motivation?

The hope is the team can be professional enough to get through it and play at their best and try to make the most of things. There will still be a season afterward. It is probably human nature that this is not the case. When you are not fully bought in, it shows. It is hard to predict whether the Magic will play well. We just know they struggle with consistency. And the Denver Nuggets have long had their number.

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3 Keys To Watch

What’s left for Aaron Gordon?

So the report leaked out that Aaron Gordon has requested a trade. He reportedly made the request in February when he was still injured. And the team, at least by the volume of rumors that have come out over the last few weeks, appear to be pushing to make a deal. It seems like it is inevitably going to happen.

Gordon, it seems, made that request while he was still injured with the high ankle sprain. So he has elected and welcomed playing even with this hanging over him. And he has played all right. He had the 38-point game against the Brooklyn Nets. But he also displayed that inconsistency with a 3-for-13 shooting against the Boston Celtics. That is the roller coaster of Gordon’s offensive game. The question then is what more is there to expect now that this is out and the trade deadline is so near.

The free throw battle

It is kind of odd to focus on free throw shooting in a game featuring two of the team’s with the lowest free throw rates in the league. But this is a really important aspect of the game for both the Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets. Jamal Murray was upset with the officials following Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, calling it ridiculous that Nikola Jokic did not take a free throw in the game. Denver had just 10 free throws in the game.

Both the Magic and Nuggets are better when they get to the foul line. Denver is 10-6 in games the team attempts at least 20 free throws and 7-1 in games it shoots at least 25 free throws. Orlando is 9-11 when the team shoots 20 or more free throws and 5-3 when shooting 25 or more free throws. Orlando has done well to prevent free throws this year. But be sure the Nuggets will be focused on this.

Chuma Okeke’s shooting slump

As the season moves past the trade deadline, the focus for the Orlando Magic is going to re-center on the team’s young players and future. The Magic are going to have to find ways to test their young players and see them grow as they integrate and figure out any new players they have. They almost certainly want to see Chuma Okeke continues to expand his offensive game.

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While Okeke is showing plenty of strength defensively, his offense is still a bit of a work in progress. And his shooting has tailed off after a nice run of play. He has made just eight of his last 26 3-pointers in the last 10 games. That 30.8-percent 3-point shooting is certainly a bit of a regression to the mean. He has shown progress in plenty of other ways. These are the normal ups and downs of a rookie.