Denver Nuggets vs. Orlando Magic Pick & Prediction JANUARY 5th 2024

The Orlando Magic have had a day to rest for Friday night and should have a clear advantage over the Nuggets when the teams meet in Denver.

The Nuggets played a thriller in Golden State on Thursday night, rallying from 18 down with 6:51 left to win it 130-127 on Nikola Jokic’s 39-foot bank shot at the buzzer.

Denver expended a lot of energy to win its sixth straight road game and now faces a quick turnaround in one of the toughest back-to-back situations. Friday night’s game starts less than 21 hours after Thursday’s wrapped up.

However, any advantage Orlando will have from that is nullified by its growing injury list.

The Magic played Wednesday at Sacramento without Cole Anthony (bruised right quad), Jonathan Isaac (hamstring), Markelle Fultz (knee) and Joe Ingles (ankle) and then lost Franz Wagner to a sprained right ankle and Gary Harris (right calf strain) during the game.

Anthony wasn’t listed on the late injury report Thursday but the other five players were listed as out for Friday night. Wendell Carter Jr. is questionable with right knee tendinitis.

“Injuries are kicking our (butts) right now, and you know, next-man-up mentality,” said Paolo Banchero, who had 43 points in the double-overtime loss at the Kings.

Orlando has hit a rough patch after a nine-game winning streak put it near the top of the Eastern Conference. Since then, the Magic have lost 10 of 15 games and seven of their last 10 games.

One of the wins during the streak came against Denver in Orlando on Nov. 22 when Wagner scored 24 of his 27 points in the second-half comeback.

The Nuggets didn’t have Jamal Murray for that game but he should be ready to go after scoring 25 points in 32 minutes Thursday night. Jokic had another near triple-double against the Warriors, missing it by one rebound.

Denver knows it is going to get everyone’s best game and is being hunted every night but deals with it by trying to top last year’s dominant run to the title.

“We’re chasing the Denver Nuggets, too,” Jokic said after Thursday’s game. “We want to be better than last year. I think we’re capable of being better, to be that team this year; we’re chasing the Denver Nuggets, too.”

Jokic has two league MVPs and a finals MVP but might be playing his best basketball over the last four games. He is 39-for-44 from the field in that span.

In one of those games, a 37-point win over Memphis on Dec. 28, he recorded a triple-double while not missing a shot from the field, going 11-for-11 and also made all three of his free-throw attempts.

He has done most of his damage close in but has attempted four 3-pointers, including the near-half-court shot to stun Golden State and give the Nuggets their 11th win in the last 13 games.

–Field Level Media

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