Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets (April 4, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Aaron Gordon is already settling in with the Denver Nuggets. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Gordon is already settling in with the Denver Nuggets. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic wrap up their road trip once again undermanned and now getting their first matchup against Aaron Gordon since the trades a few weeks ago.

Orlando Magic (17-32) at Denver Nuggets (30-18)


10 p.m./NBATV, Bally Sports Florida




$55-$225 on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Nuggets 110, Magic 99

in Orlando on March 23; Tonight in Denver

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic are going to be thankful this road trip is over. A couple of days to breathe — and even a day to practice — are going to be very welcome as this team tries to come together after the trade. The returns on this 2-2 road trip so far have been good. Orlando has shown it will play hard enough to compete if teams leave the door open for them.

Whether the Magic have the energy on the dreaded Utah-Denver back-to-back is another story. Whether the team will be able to field a real roster (the league will likely force the Magic to dress one player who may not be available) with a stomach illness going through the team claiming Michael Carter-Williams, Khem Birch and Mohamed Bamba is another story. The Denver Nuggets have fit well together since their big trade. This one has all the makings of being ugly.

38. 123. 73. Prediction. 98

3 Keys To Watch

The offense

The Orlando Magic are down several key offensive players. With Cole Anthony and Gary Harris still out — and possibly returning later this week — there is relief on the way that can help the team put the ball in the basket. But so far since the new players were integrated, the Magic’s offense has looked incredibly bleak. Orlando has the second-worst offense in the league in the last four games, posting a 98.8 offensive rating and a league-worst 43.0-percent effective field goal percentage.

The Magic’s 3-point shooting is of special concern. Orlando has made only 12 3-pointers in the team’s last three games. The wins over the LA Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans are two of the 10 instances this season that a team has won a game while making five or fewer 3-pointers. The Magic to win have to play with incredible defensive energy to create turnovers and fast breaks and they have to get in the paint and to the foul line.

No. 50

The play from Aaron Gordon since he made his Denver Nuggets debut has been a revelation to the national media. They are excited with his ability to switch defensively and how seamlessly he has fit into a team with so many offensive options. Orlando Magic fans were not surprised by any of this, of course. They knew Gordon needed to get some of the offensive pressure off so he could focus defensive and that would in turn give him more space to operate when the ball did swing his way.

Gordon is averaging just 11.0 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game in three games starting for the Nuggets. But his field goal percentage is way up to 57.7-percent. It is a lot easier when Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are throwing passes to you cutting to the basket, a far under-utilized part of Gordon’s game in Orlando. He does not have to do as much creation and that has helped Gordon make a real impact.

Hampton’s return

This is not just a reunion for the Orlando Magic and Aaron Gordon, of course. R.J. Hampton is also returning to Denver. There were seemingly no hard feelings in the trade. The Denver Nuggets were supposedly reticent to include Hampton in the deal. But it is also clear how much Hampton wanted to play too. He was not going to get that playing time in Denver.

He is very clearly raw and so the Magic are narrowly defining his role and trying to put him in places where he can use his speed and contribute positively to the team without making too many mistakes. They have to be happy with his development so far. In four games with the Magic, Hampton is averaging 8.8 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Next. Orlando Magic finding what they are good at. dark

He still needs to find a way to finish at the rim more efficiently. But his speed is already causing problems for defenses and the Magic are trying to figure out how best to harness it.