Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (April 4, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic are still learning and growing and have to see every failure or struggle as a chance to grow and improve. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic are still learning and growing and have to see every failure or struggle as a chance to grow and improve. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic countdown to the end of their season as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first of a pair of games to close their schedule at Amway Center.

Orlando Magic (34-44) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (49-30)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Cavaliers by 5
Tickets: $47-$1,872 on StubHub
Season Series: Cavaliers 103, Magic 92 in Cleveland on Oct. 26; Cavaliers 107, Magic 96 in Cleveland on Dec. 2; Tonight in Orlando; April 6 in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic are on their last postseason legs. One more loss and their postseason dreams are officially over — just as they would be over with one more Chicago Bulls win.

The team, for their part, is focusing on what it can control. And they do not seem too concerned with postseason elimination. The Magic just want to win and make the most of the four games they have remaining. That is at least admirable. We will see what happens when the team is officially eliminated from postseason contention.

That brings them to the challenge in front of them.

The Orlando Magic will face a tough Cleveland Cavaliers team that is a tough matchup for anyone with their two defensive-minded big and their slow pace to go with a brutally efficient offense.

That has been a big challenge for everyone around the league and is certainly a challenge for a Magic team that is playing well right now to deal with.

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3 Keys To Watch

Battle for pace

The Orlando Magic have long said they want to be a team that pushes the pace. That is not just pushing the pace in terms of getting up and down the court in transition, but in getting into their offense quickly and with intensity.

The Magic have been much better at this too since the All-Star Break, watching their raw pace rise from 99.7 possessions per 48 minutes for the season with a 111.8 offensive rating to 101.3 possessions per 48 minutes (fifth in the league!) with a 113.4 offensive rating (still in the bottom-10 in the league).

That at least gives a hint of who the team can be and wants to be as they still look to balance their offense better.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have gone in the opposite direction. They play with the fewest possessions in the league but have one of the most brutally efficient offenses in the league. The Cavaliers have played just 10 games this entire season with a pace of at least 100 possessions per 48 minutes. They are still 7-3 in those games, previewing their stylistic versatility.

They try to slow games down to a crawl. And even speeding them up does not always work.

Franz in the spotlight

The arrival of Evan Mobley to Orlando will highlight perhaps the two best sophomore players in the league this year. Evan Mobley and Franz Wagner have both clearly improved this season both stylistically and statistically more than any other of the major sophomores from last year’s rookie team. Mobley is once again a Defensively Player of the Year candidate.

Wagner has experienced a surge of late though. He has really started to find his rhythm and make a big push to end the season.

Wagner is averaging 19.3 points per game in his last 14 games while shooting 49.8/34.3/85.1. He has added 4.7 rebounds per game for good measure and another 4.7 assists per game. It has been with solid efficiency and definitely plenty of gusto as Wagner knifes his way through the lane.

That will be tough with both Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen patrolling the lane, but as long as Franz Wagner is able to get downhill, he seems impossible to stop. And that is the part that is exciting.

Playoff picture

The scenario for the Orlando Magic is quite simple with four games to play.

They trail the Chicago Bulls by four games for the final Play-In spot. With a loss or a Chicago Bulls wins (the Bulls play at home against the Atlanta Hawks in a critical game for both teams Tuesday night), the Orlando Magic are eliminated from the postseason.

Of note, perhaps, the Magic are the last remaining team that can oust the current top 10. The Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards have been eliminated because of the tiebreaker with the Chicago Bulls. The Eastern Conference postseason field is nearly set.

In the Lottery standings, the Orlando Magic currently sit seventh with the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers passing them. They are tied with the Washington Wizards. Lottery ties are broken by a random draw after the season.

Next. Orlando Magic starting lineup has potential to grow. dark

On the other side, the Cleveland Cavaliers are pretty much locked into fourth. They are 2.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for third and still have a remote chance of catching them. They lead the fifth-seeded New York Knicks by three games. One more Cleveland win will clinch homecourt in the first round for the Cavaliers.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.