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Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers – Playoff Preview

  • Tonight it is the Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers as the Eastern Conference playoff first round begins, promising fascinating battles across the court.

Playoff First Round Game 1 – Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers 

  • Venue – Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tip time here in the U.K. is 6pm, which is 1pm in Orlando and Cleveland.
  • To watch live in the U.K. you will have a couple of options. As always there is an active NBA League Pass subscription, allowing for on demand also. The alternative tonight is the game is being carried live on both TNT Sports 4 and Discovery +

Regular Season Stats

Orlando Magic

  • Record: 47-35
  • Run: 5-5 in the last 10 played.
  • Home Record 29-12 (29-11 in the Kia Center; one “home court” loss was in Mexico City).
  • Road Record 18-23
  • Finished: 5th in the East
  • Points Per GameFor 110.5 Against 108.4
  • RatingOffensive 22nd Defensive 2nd

Cleveland Cavaliers 

  • Record: 48-34
  • Run: 4-6 in the last 10 played.
  • Home Record 26-15
  • Road Record 22-19
  • Finished: 4th in the East
  • Points Per GameFor 112.6 Against 110.2
  • RatingOffensive 18th Defensive 6th

For Tonight

Orlando Magic

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Ty Jerome (right ankle surgery and out indefinitely), Craig Porter Jr (left ankle sprain) and Dean Wade (right knee sprain) are out.
  • Ignoring their last game in which they had several key players “injured” the Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff is likely to field a  starting 5 of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen 
  • Isaac Okoro, Georges Niang, Caris LeVert, Sam Merrill and the injured Dean Wade have been the core from the bench.
  • Damian Jones, Marcus Morris and Tristan Thompson complete their roster, with Emoni Bates, Isaiah Mobley and Pete Nance on two-way contracts.

Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers – Head-To-Head

  • In 126 regular season games the score stands at 65-61 to the Cavs.
  • This season saw a 2-2 split, each team taking a road and home win.
  • Dec 6th – Orlando dropped to a 111-121 road loss after an opening quarter where the Cavs scored 37 points. The Magic clawed back to within 5 points but Cleveland were consistently able to score to break the momentum. 
  • Dec 11th – a hard fought 94-104 home court victory for the Magic. Arguably one of the best second half displays of the season by the Magic saw intense defence lead to the strong offence.
  • Jan 22nd – The Cavs came out fast, hit hard and early. They did not let up until the white flag was waved by Orlando. On the second night of a back-to-back Orlando produced a disjointed energy-less performance, being second best in every facet of the game. It led to a comprehensive defeat by 126-99 in the Kia Center. Neither team played any of their starting players in the entire fourth quarter. 
  • Feb 22nd – The Magic took an impressive road win over the Cavs by 116-109 and in this instance it was the Magic who came out strong, the starting unit putting up a 14 point lead. It was a team win, one that drew heavily on the support of the bench. Coach Mosley rode the hot hand and the impact players on the night.
  • Orlando have only won 3 of the last 11 regular season encounters, including a 0-4 sweep in the 2022-23 season. Prior to that the Magic had won 7 straight.
  • In the playoffs these two teams famously met in 2009, resulting in a 4-2 win for Orlando. In the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals the Magic made a strong start and claimed a Game 1 victory.

A Thought Or Two On The Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers Playoff Series

  • Orlando face a tough opponent who will battle hard. Aside from the experience factor these two teams have matched evenly this season.
  • Each are exceptional at scoring off cuts. Both teams appear in the top 10 of defence of the paint and in preventing second chance points. 
  • One glaring difference is that on three point shooting. The Cavs put up almost 37 shots per game from range, making 13.5, which equates to a third of their average points total.
  • With two physical and defensive teams how the officials are going to call it is of importance. This statement also goes to the first point below around Suggs and Mitchell. If we see a soft stance where every inconsequential brush of the body is called it will spoil what could be a competitive and entertaining series.

Suggs vs Spida

  • Orlando will need Jalen Suggs for every moment he can play against Donovan Mitchell. It is a crucial matchup and slowing Mitchell’s scoring is essential. 
  • Mitchell in his 44 career playoff games is averaging 27.8 points per game. He averaged 23.2 points per game in last year’s playoffs against the Knicks.
  • This season against the Magic Mitchell averaged 27.3 points and 7.3 assists per game in three appearances. But remember 35 of those came when Suggs was out injured.
  • In 6 games versus Suggs he has averaged 28.3 points, 5.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds. However, this season in the two games, Mitchell scored a total of 25 points in 15:29 against Suggs as the primary matchup. He also turned the ball over five times and shot only 8 for 19 from the floor. He was 4 for 8 from three, meaning he was 4 for 11 in the paint.
  • Suggs has sensational on ball pressure, and will work tirelessly to keep in position. He will be fighting through screens constantly to get back to Mitchell as this is how they can create him space. 
  • Jalen can’t afford to allow Spida space from deep, from where he is shooting almost 37%. He will perhaps have to rely on some help from Gary Harris or be swapping out with JI (who we saw do an amazing job on Dame).

Elite Defence

  • Having already spoken about Suggs as a now elite defender, there are two others in this series. Evan Mobley and Jonathan Isaac.
  • Mobley is as good an isolation defender as there is in the league. His awareness of guarding space is such that often he presence is sufficient to force a player to pass rather than shoot.
  • As to an impactful presence it is hard to overstate that of Judah. He is versatile as to who and how he defends, comfortable taking responsibility for 1-through-5. 
  • Discipline and focus on the pick and roll will be a key part of any success that Orlando may have. That ability the Cavs have in this area could kill us if we don’t get the cover right.
  • Strus and LeVert are both exceptional in-the paint defenders.

Taking The Chance To Shine

  • For both Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner this will be their first experience of the NBA postseason. There is an interesting statistic floating around with regards to this series on Cleveland’s opponents taking the second-most shots with 6 seconds or less remaining on the shot clock. Orlando are very happy to use the clock, taking the fourth-most shots in that time frame, Paolo and Franz each ranking top 10 in taking the late shot.
  • The one-two-punch for Orlando of Franz and Paolo has to come big through the series for the Magic to progress. Both have played well against a zone defence. 
  • Whilst every Magic victory starts from the D the two emergent stars will need to find ways to contribute heavily on offence.
  • Cleveland have played Paolo Banchero exceptionally well in the season’s four games. He dropped 42 points in a loss but did not score more than 20 in any of the other three outings.

The Let’s Talk Magic Game Preview