OMD Roundtable: Key to the Orlando Magic's series with the Cleveland Cavaliers and staff picks

The Orlando Magic take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the Playoffs in what everyone expects to be a competitive and physical series. We discuss the keys to the series and make staff predictions.
Jalen Suggs and the Orlando Magic have reached the Playoffs and have their chance to win their first-round series.
Jalen Suggs and the Orlando Magic have reached the Playoffs and have their chance to win their first-round series. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
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OMD Roundtable: Keys to the Series & Staff Predictions

Patrick Previty: Stepping up to the stage

Last year the lights were admittedly too bright for certain players on the Cleveland Cavaliers. This year, the Orlando Magic face a similar task in being a predominantly inexperienced group in the opening round of the playoffs.

But as long as the learning curve is not so sharp, as long as the shooting from the role players does not dip too drastically on the road and as long as the Magic can rely on Paolo Banchero to continue to lead like he has all season, the Magic should be able to come out on top in this series.

I would give the nod to Orlando in 6 games. But if it goes the distance, I do not know if I can truly envision a scenario where they win a Game 7 on the road.

In the Playoffs, suddenly the ability to close games becomes really important. It is the difference between a 2-2 series and a 3-1 series. And both teams have their share of fun game-winners and clutch moments this year.

The Magic went 21-14 in clutch situations and had a +2.2 net rating in clutch situations. That is anchored mostly by their defense -- a 100.8 defensive rating in clutch situations. Just do not trust Orlando to come from behind late in games (103.0 offensive rating). This team is not going to score.

The Cavs had the same issue with a 20-22 record in clutch situations and a -5.3 net rating and a solid 111.5 defensive rating. That is about what their full-season average is as a top-10 defense. But it does not elevate.

For any team in the NBA that is a tall task. For one of the more inexperienced teams in this year’s playoffs, it may end up being what sends them home. But if they can stay up or tied in the series and if the stage does not make them lose their way, I think the Magic are the better team with a higher ceiling.

Patrick Previty: Magic in 6