Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (April 5, 2022): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Ignas Brazdeikis played admirably for the Orlando Magic even as they struggled to close out the game. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Ignas Brazdeikis played admirably for the Orlando Magic even as they struggled to close out the game. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic’s season winds down with the team’s penultimate home game and perhaps the return of both rookie players for their final statements of the season.

Orlando Magic (20-59) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (43-36)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line via WynnBet: Cavaliers by 9
Tickets: $15-$260 on StubHub
2022 Season Series: Cavaliers 105, Magic 92 in Cleveland on Nov. 27; Cavaliers 107, Magic 101 in Cleveland on March 28; Tonight in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic’s end-season goals probably became clear last week in Cleveland.

The Orlando Magic were in a tight game with the Cleveland Cavaliers with a bench group running on fumes midway through the fourth quarter when the Cavaliers reloaded with their starters and the Magic left theirs on the bench.

As much as coach Jamahl Mosley has talked about seeing different combinations on the floor and getting different groups out there together, this is certainly not what anyone had in mind. This would have been a good time to get Franz Wagner experience late in the game, especially after he struggled in that role the previous game in an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Alas, that is what this season is. Certainly, Orlando was helped in that game by Evan Mobley’s sprained ankle suffered in the first half (he remains out for tonight’s game). But their goals are now pretty clear.

Here is hoping something productive comes out before that part of the game.

156. 104. 38. Prediction. 115

3 Keys To Watch

Rookie Return

Injuries are starting to pile up for the Orlando Magic and the team might have to play some of their more productive players just to field a functioning roster. The Orlando Magic certainly want to avoid the embarrassment they suffered Sunday night against the New York Knicks.

With Cole Anthony leaving Sunday’s game and ruled OUT for tonight’s game with a sprained left toe, the Magic may be forced to get their other rookie guard back on the court, just so they can keep Markelle Fultz’s minute restriction and have another competent ball-handler available.

After a 10-game absence with a bone bruise in his right ankle, Jalen Suggs may indeed return. He is listed as QUESTIONABLE for the game.

Suggs’ season has had plenty of ups and downs. But he was making progress before this latest injury knocked him out. Suggs was averaging 13.1 points per game and 5.4 assists per game in the 12 games before his initial ankle injury (he returned for a few games before being shut down again).

Suggs will still have a lot of work ahead of him this offseason. And the Magic will probably want him to ease off the breakneck drives toward the basket to avoid contact. But they also need to encourage him to play his game and find his spots.

Things slowed down for him after the last time he missed an extended period of time. Maybe it will again here.

Respect for Darius Garland

Darius Garland torched the Orlando Magic the last time these two teams played, scoring 25 points and dishing out 12 assists. He had a big hand in the decisive 12-0 run that turned a close game into a runaway for the Cavaliers.

Garland has had an All-Star season and is a big reason why the Cavaliers seem set to make the Play-In Tournament. While Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen have helped transform the team’s defense, Darius Garland is the one giving the team a big offensive push. He is as much a reason why Cleveland is successful.

The Magic will have their hands full guarding him again. And Garland could be in for another big night with the Magic’s defense all out of whack.

Defense out of whack

That is a good place to start for the Orlando Magic then.

This team wants to be a strong defensive outfit and it has indeed been one of the few bright spots for the season. Orlando is ninth in the league with a defensive rating of 110.9 points allowed per 100 possessions since Jan. 1 (a span of 43 games where the team has gone 13-30). Since the All-Star Break, the Magic are still fifth in the league giving up 110.4 points per 100 possessions.

Those are positive defensive trends.

But the Magic obviously are a bit of a different team of late.

Since the team’s last win against the Golden State Warriors on March 22, the team is giving up 114.1 points per 100 possessions (14th in the league among teams’ last six games).

Next. Orlando Magic can't waste opportunities to close season. dark

The Magic’s offense has always been a problem and the team’s inability to score is costing the team games as much as anything else. But with the defense slipping like this, the results can be pretty bad for the team.