The Orlando Magic continue their preseason as they take on the up-and-coming Cleveland Cavaliers as both teams look ahead to the regular season.
Orlando Magic (1-0) at Cleveland Cavaliers (0-1)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./NBA League Pass
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Line: Cavaliers by 3.5/Magic +120 Money Line/Over-Under: 216.5 on FanDuel
Tickets: $1-$438 on GameTime
2023 Season Series: Cavaliers 103, Magic 92 in Cleveland on Oct. 26; Cavaliers 107, Magic 96 in Cleveland on Dec. 2; Cavaliers 117, Magic 113 in Orlando on April 4; Cavaliers 118, Magic 94 in Orlando on April 6
2024 Season Series: Dec. 11 in Orlando; Jan. 22 in Orlando; Feb. 22 in Cleveland
The Orlando Magic saw themselves find their sea legs a bit as the game went on in their first preseason game. It was a first preseason game and there was a lot to clean up. There was always going to be a lot to clean up. But the Magic looked better as the game went on and they found their groove to control the game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers too are starting to figure out who they are. They are without Jarrett Allen for the moment with an ankle injury. But this is still a team that is dangerous offensively. These are two teams that want to be the future of the Eastern Conference for sure.
What does that mean for tonight? At this stage, the Magic should remain focused on themselves. They will hope for a more consistent defensive performance and better rebounding — cleaning up issues from Tuesday’s game. That will be a good start for them.
3 Keys To Watch
Attack the glass
The Orlando Magic ended up winning Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. It turned out to be a solid and encouraging performance with the team getting better as they settled into the game in the second quarter and second half. But it was a struggle to get there.
The biggest point of emphasis has to be on the offensive glass. This was an area where the Magic were solid last year — eighth in the league in defensive rebound rate — but still faced some difficulty considering the team was 15th in the league in second-chance points allowed per game.
New Orleans took advantage of Orlando’s switching schemes to get on the interior. And this was a big focus for the team in Wednesday’s practice. Orlando plans to be more attentive on the glass.
Eyes on Mobley
At this point, the two best players from the vaunted 2021 NBA Draft class are Evan Mobley and Franz Wagner. It is always fun when those two get together. Mobley is a dynamic defensive presence and was part of the anchor for the Cleveland Cavaliers last year.
Mobley had a solid sophomore season, averaging 16.2 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game. That included going to the All-Defensive team last year.But Mobley struggled in the playoffs — with just 9.8 points per game, although still 10.0 rebounds per game. Mobley is going to have to prove himself again.
Adding in that Jarrett Allen is out this preseason, Evan Mobley’s presence is going to be important. And this should be a good experiment for what Mobley is capable of.
Wendell Carter and threes
The Orlando Magic are not viewed as a great 3-point shooting team. It is probably the biggest weakness in the team’s offense and its ability to climb the standings. Even Tuesday saw the team struggle, making only 33.3 percent of their 3-pointers.
Still, there were encouraging signs. Orlando made 15 3-pointers and took 45. They only took 40 or more 3-pointers in five games last year. They took nine corner 3-pointers (making six) after averaging a little more than six per game last year. Wendell Carter hit four of five 3-pointers.
How much of this is real — the Magic had 31 attempts through three quarters, their season average for last year — and how much of this is one preseason game? That is something to figure out for this game. But that could be an encouraging sign for the team’s growth offensively.
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