Orlando Magic vs. Denver Nuggets (Feb. 9, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The trade deadline dust settles for both the Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets as the two teams face off at the Amway Center on Thursday.

Orlando Magic (22-33) vs. Denver Nuggets (38-17)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Nuggets by 6
Tickets: $20-$9,699 on StubHub
Season Series: Nuggets 119, Magic 116 in Denver on Jan. 15; Tonight in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets are still recovering from the trade deadline happenings. For Orlando that meant sending out Mo Bamba to the Los Angeles Lakers in what amounts to a cap-dumping move. The Magic largely stood pat then considering Bamba is out of the rotation. The same with the Nuggets, who traded away Bones Hyland and acquired Thomas Bryant for Davon Reed.

This may be one of the few games around the league Thursday not directly affected by the trade deadline in a meaningful way. It should be a matchup of two teams who are in a groove and playing well.

That could be good for creating an interesting matchup. The Magic’s length gave the Nuggets problems in the first matchup as it has for a lot of teams. And Orlando has been playing much better on defense. But that is a tough call still going up against one of the best offenses in the league.

Denver Nuggets
Orlando Magic

3 Keys To Watch

Defense leads the way

The Orlando Magic have told everyone who will listen that defense is where they will hang their hats. They want to be a defensive-minded team and have that be where they get energy and spark their offense.

That has not always been the case throughout the year so far. But that has been the case lately. I thas helped the team make up for some of its shooting shortcomings.

“Defense. I think when it’s all said and done, you have to hang your hat on the defensive end,” coach Jamahl Mosley said before Thursday’s game. “You look at the game, we didn’t make shots against New York and didn’t make shots against Philly, but we were in both of those games to the end and that was because of the defensive effort and our level of play.”

The Orlando Magic struggled with their shot against the New York Knicks on Tuesday making only 6 of 25 3-pointers  in the game. But they stayed in it thanks to a stellar defensive effort, giving up only 12.1 points per 100 possessions. That marked the fifth time in seven games they have held opponents under their season average.

The Magic’s defense has gotten better. But there have been some notable blips the team will have to shore up.

Bol vs. Denver

Bol Bol has seeming been more feast or famine since he moved full-time to a bench role. There are still some stellar games and moments from Bol. But there are also a lot of times hwere he looks a bit lost and like a rookie playing his first extended playing time. The Magic have had to hide him in some ways.

Bol had one of his brightest games in the loss ot the Denver Nuggets back in January. He scored 17 point son 8-for-12 shooting that game, helping spark the Magic’s turnaround to get bakc into the game in the second quarter. When he plays like that, he is worth riding and seeing how far he can go.

Bol’s numbers have looked solid since then. In his last 11 games, he is averaging 6.1 points per game and shooting 52.0 percent from the floor, although he has not made a three in that time.

The trick with Bol now seems to be knowing when to reel him back and not sticking with him too long if teams are attacking him. That has been the trickiest balance for Orlando because he can still be a dangerous and unique weapon for this team.

Jamal Murray out

The Denver Nuggets will be without Jamahl Murray on Thursday, out with right knee inflammation. The Nuggets are certainly plenty capable of scoring without him with Nikola Jokic acting as the team’s de facto point guard. But Murray is still a big piece of the offensive puzzle. And especially with a relatively inactive deadline, the piece that could take the Nuggets over the top to a title.

Murray has had a good recovery season so far. But with Murray off the court, the Nuggets post a net rating of +0.0 with an offensive rating of just 112.1 points per 100 possessions. They have an offensive rating of 117.8 points per 100 possessions overall.

Especially now without a natural point guard with Bones Hyland off to the LA Clippers, the Denver Nuggets could be spending some time figuring out how to run things for this game. The Nuggets are starting a road trip in this one and that can always be a tricky game to manage.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.