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Preview: Denver Nuggets continue road trip against Magic

There’s nothing quite like the return of the reigning MVP to give a team a much-needed boost in the midst of a losing streak.

For the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokić returned to action Monday night against the Miami Heat and helped propel Denver to a much-needed 120-111 victory. Jokić was his dominant self with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists, but the Nuggets used a complete team effort to fuel the win, finishing with a season-high 32 assists as seven players scored in double-figures.

Denver (10-10) now continues its road trip in the Sunshine state with a meeting against the Orlando Magic.

Orlando (4-18) own’s the league’s worst record as the franchise begins a rebuilding process. The Magic have struggled on both ends of the floor, but there have been bright spots from some of the team’s young talent, including Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner, the eighth pick in this year’s draft.

Denver swept the season series last year and has won 10 straight against Orlando.

TUNE-IN: 5 p.m. MT, Altitude 2 and 92.5FM

The battle on the offensive glass

As mentioned earlier, the young Orlando squad has struggled in most categories this season on both ends of the floor. However, the Magic have deployed a starting lineup with two big men (Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba) that has helped the team remain in the top half of the league in offensive rebound percentage (13th at 25.8 percent).

Considering Orlando’s other struggles on that end of the floor, if the Nuggets can limit the second-chance opportunities Wednesday night, it will go a long way in limiting the Magic offense. Denver should be up to the task, as the Nuggets rank eighth in opponent offensive rebound percentage this season at 24.1 percent.

Defending the three

When you rank 27th in offensive rating on the season, it’s safe to say that there has been a fair share of struggles on that end of the floor.

As young teams tend to do, Orlando has turned the ball over at a high rate, which has been coupled with cold shooting to hurt the team’s offense. The Magic rank 28th in effective field-goal percentage this season at 48.4 percent.

However, Orlando’s offense prioritizes shots at the rim and especially from beyond the arc. 40.5 percent of Orlando’s total shot attempts this season have come from downtown, the fifth-highest frequency in the league. Even though those shots haven’t fallen regularly (33 percent), Denver’s defense will have to be focused on taking away those attempts Wednesday night.

Get out in transition

The Magic have struggled in several areas on the defensive end of the floor, resulting in the 28th-ranked defense on the season, per Cleaning the Glass.

While Orlando has been slightly better than that when defending in the halfcourt, Denver can certainly look to exploit Orlando’s weakness in transition.

The Magic rank 27th in both opponent frequency and effectiveness in transition this season, as 17 percent of opponent possessions have begun with a transition play through the team’s first 22 games of the season.

Although Denver’s transition frequency and effectiveness have slipped since the beginning of the season, there will be opportunities to push the pace and get easy buckets against a scrambling Magic defense.