Denver Nuggets vs. Orlando Magic Game Preview – March 23, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| March 23, 2021 1:35 am PDT

The Nuggets sit fifth in the Western Conference at present. They are becoming slightly detached from the teams above them, but the good news is that the gap is widening to seventh place. Denver won’t want to get too comfortable, though, as there is still a lot to play for this season. The Magic’s hopes of playing post-season basketball are disappearing quicker than one of Houdini’s magic acts. It would take a monumental effort, but it is still mathematically possible, but they have to win tonight and pretty much every other night too.

Orlando’s win over the Nuggets last time out ended a run of nine straight defeats and will give them a little bit of confidence heading into tonight’s game. However, they have lost the last four meetings in Orlando, and their previous home victory over the Nuggets came five years ago in 2016.

Here is my Nuggets vs. Magic betting preview.

Nuggets vs. Magic Match Odds

Nuggets -7-110
Magic +7-110
Nuggets To Win-300
Magic To Win+260
Over 216.5 Points-110
Under 216.5 Points-110

The spread reflects the gap between these two right now, and you would have to say it’s about right. However, the points total looks low, and strangely it has been cut by two and a half points since the betting opened.

Nuggets Analysis

The Nuggets are in fine form, having only dropped two losses in their previous ten matches. With that said, one of those defeats was last time out, in a surprise defeat against the Pelicans. Denver will be even more disappointed by the fact that they started that game so well, leading by eight at the end of the first quarter. However, they quickly dropped away and could not maintain their early momentum.

Denver has a good record of 13 wins and eight defeats on the road this season. They should have plenty of confidence maintaining that good record tonight, considering they have won their last five away fixtures in a row.

Here are the latest betting trends for Denver:

Against The Spread

  • They have lost four of their previous six matches.
  • The Nuggets are 6-0-2 in their last eight games against Orlando.
  • Denver has only lost one of their last six games against teams from the Eastern Conference.

Their poor form against the spread recently is predominantly down to the bookmakers setting the Nuggets some tough handicaps. The more games they have won, the greater the handicap has increased. This also franks their good form over the Magic.

Points Total

  • Eight of their last 11 games against teams based in the Southeast Division have gone over the betting total.
  • The total has gone under in eight of their previous 12 matches played in March.

There is nothing to go on here as both stats contradict each other.

The Nuggets have a deadly accurate offense, currently scoring at a field goal rate of 48%. They haven’t always rebounded brilliantly, but then again, they haven’t had to. Denver can also shoot well from distance as they have a 38% success rate from the three-point range.

The success behind their high-scoring percentages is not only down to their shooting ability. They work the ball around the court tremendously well, which presents some great scoring opportunities.

Their defense is decent, which makes them a well-rounded team to play against. They like to play a pressing game which on the whole seems to work, but it has been known to get caught out in behind on occasions.

Surprisingly for a team doing as well as the Nuggets are, they have no players ranked inside the top five of any of the performance charts this season. This suggests to me that everyone is contributing, which can only be a good thing.

Denver has two confirmed absentees for this one, as both Harris and Morris will miss out. Whittington also remains a doubt, having missed out with a knee injury against the Pelicans.

Magic Analysis

Orlando needs to produce some Magic if they are to win tonight and turn around their desperate form of late, which has seen them pick up one victory from their previous 11 games. However, that’s exactly what they produced a couple of nights again when they beat the high-flying Nets. There is no doubt that the win came as a shock as the Magic were heavy outsiders that night. Still, they defied the odds to lock up the win, and they will need more of the same here tonight.

Their form at home hasn’t been the best, but they have picked up nine of their 14 wins in Orlando, so they have certainly performed better at home this season. Their win over Brooklyn last time out ended a run of five straight home defeats. The last time they picked up a win at the Amway Center, they went on to win three games in a row, so they will be hoping history repeats itself.

Here are the latest betting trends for Orlando:

Against The Spread

  • Orlando has only lost two of their last six matches.
  • The Magic are 4-10 in their previous 14 games played against teams from the West Coast.
  • They have only picked up one win from their last five games against teams based in the Northwest Division.

This confirms the Magic’s poor form this season. Thus, it would appear that the bookmakers are beginning to be more generous with the starts they are giving them seen as they have started to win a few matches against the spread recently. With the bookmakers doing the opposite to the Nuggets, does that mean the spread could be in Orlando’s favor tonight?

Points Total

  • Four of their last five games have gone under the betting total.
  • The total has gone over in ten of their previous 15 matches against the Nuggets.

There isn’t anything to go on here.

The Magic have the second-worst offense in the NBA this season which has been hindered by a field goal percentage of 43%, which is the lowest in the league. Thankfully for them, they have rebounded well in attack, presumably because they are getting so much practice at it.

Their defense has been okay and relatively consistent throughout the season. Although most of their stats are around the league’s average, they don’t have any fundamental weaknesses, which has been the basis of their wins this season.

However, if you had one criticism of their defense, you would sometimes like them to be slightly more physical and get in their opponent’s faces, and produce more blocks than they are at present.

Like their offense, they have rebounded well in defense, making them the fourth-best rebounding unit in the league. This is their key to victory most nights and where they have a distinct advantage over the Nuggets.

However, where they can’t match up with Denver is in the passing department, and the Nuggets passing game blows them out of the water. Therefore, they will have to continue their dribbling game, which they have used predominantly throughout the season.

Nikola Vucevic has been the stand-out player for the Magic this season, and he has been the driving force behind their impressive rebounding game. He has attracted plenty of attention from other teams as the trade deadline approaches, but the Magic have put a hefty price tag around his neck, which could scare off other teams from making a move for the center.

The Magic have an injury list as long as your arm right now, which certainly hasn’t helped them get out of this rut. They are missing Isaac, Fultz, and Anthony, while Ross, Randle, and Bamba remain doubtful.

Nuggets vs. Magic Betting Pick

  • Nuggets To Win

The form lines suggest that the spread is tipped in the Magic’s favor, and I can’t disagree with that. But with such an extensive injury list, I can’t bring myself to back the Magic right now. Especially given the fact they have posted scores of 77, 97, 93, and 96 in four of their previous five matches. I’m a fan of the way that the Nuggets play. They apply themselves well and are hard-working with it. I will take them to win tonight, but I won’t risk-taking on the spread as it seems the bookmakers have their number at present.



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