Denver Nuggets: 5 Players Who Must Step Up Against the Magic and Heat

Jon Reid@@JonReidCSMCorrespondent IINovember 2, 2012

Denver Nuggets: 5 Players Who Must Step Up Against the Magic and Heat

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    The Nuggets may only be one game into their 82-game schedule, but this weekend's games are still fairly important.

    While it wouldn't be the end of their season if they dropped their first three matchups, that is certainly not something the team is looking to do.

    Not to mention, after their back-to-back games in Orlando and Miami, they'll still have to play 15 of their following 21 games away from the Pepsi Center.

    Starting out 0-3 on the road won't help their confidence heading into that stretch of away games.

    That means that winning one or both of the next two contests is more important than you may think.

    Tonight, the Nuggets will play their former teammate Arron Afflalo in Orlando, while tomorrow they'll travel to Miami to take on the star-studded NBA champion Heat.

    Here are the five players who must step up for Denver to pull out a pair of wins.

Wilson Chandler

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    The sixth man in today's NBA is an extremely important role.

    Having a guy that can come off the bench and be as good as a starter at both ends of the court can do wonders for a team.

    Unfortunately, Wilson Chandler hasn't been anywhere near that during his time in Denver.

    Wednesday night was another poor display from the man that the Nuggets will count on to play a big role for this team.

    Chandler managed just five points and three rebounds, shot just 2-of-8 from the field and turned over the ball four times in 21 minutes of action in Wednesday night's opening defeat.

    If Denver is going to compete this year, Chandler is going to need to be much more productive than he has been lately.

Andre Iguodala

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    Andre Iguodala was brought to Denver to be one of the main pieces in making the Nuggets a contender.

    He and Ty Lawson are the "stars" of this team and will be relied upon most this season to help Denver become one of the NBA's elite teams.

    Iguodala, however, has gotten off to a slow start with his new team.

    Over his last three games (including his two final preseason tuneups), Iguodala has shot just 31.6 percent (12-of-38) from the field.

    He's also turned the ball over eight times, four of those turnovers coming in Philly during the team's first contest.

    While he did pick up two steals in that game, one of which led to an uncontested dunk, Iguodala is going to have to pick up his offensive game if the Nuggets are to succeed this week in Florida.

JaVale McGee

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    To the displeasure of many, JaVale McGee did not get the start on opening night in Philadelphia.

    That honor went to Kosta Koufos, who played fairly well in his 30 minutes of floor time.

    As for McGee, he proved head coach George Karl right for bringing him off the bench. McGee turned the ball over three times in 18 minutes (compared to just one turnover for Koufos in 30 minutes) and struggled to identify situations where he should be trying to box out opponents instead of trying to block shots.

    After Wednesday night, it'd be a surprise if McGee were to get the start on Friday night, but he must use his minutes more effectively this weekend if the Nuggets are to pick up a win.

Andre Miller

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    Andre Miller's opening night performance wasn't all bad.

    He provided Denver with a good amount of energy off the bench, picked up two steals and shot 4-of-6 to start the game.

    From there, however, Miller tanked offensively, sinking just one bucket of his final nine attempts.

    If Ty Lawson should get into foul trouble again any time over the next two nights, Miller will be relied upon to play the same game as he did in the first half of Wednesday's tilt, but for the whole game this time.

Danilo Gallinari/Jordan Hamilton

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    According to, there is a chance that Danilo Gallinari could suit up tonight for the Nuggets in Orlando.

    If he does, he should provide a huge lift to the Nuggets on offense.

    Wednesday's production out of the three spot was non-existent, and the Nuggets were absolutely terrible shooting from beyond the arc.

    Gallinari should provide a boost in both of those areas, and adding Jordan Hamilton to the bench will add even more depth to an already deep team.

    Whoever starts tonight and tomorrow at SF, though, will have to fill the hole that was left in Philadelphia.