Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers (April 20, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic open the NBA Playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The young Magic team are looking to prove themselves on the biggest stage as their season reaches its peak.
The Orlando Magic open their series with the Cleveland Cavaliers as both teams prepare for the pressures this Playoff series will bring.
The Orlando Magic open their series with the Cleveland Cavaliers as both teams prepare for the pressures this Playoff series will bring. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

0-0. Magic Cavs Game 1 Matchup 04.20.24. 156. 1P. 38. ESPN, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Ohio. Apr. 20, 2024. 0-0. Cavs by 5 (O/U 207.5)

Tickets: $46-$373 on StubHub
Playoff Series: Game 1 - Today in Cleveland; Game 2 - Monday in Cleveland; Game 3 - Thursday in Orlando; Game 4 - April 27 in Orlando
Season Series: Cavaliers 121, Magic 111 in Cleveland on Dec. 7; Magic 104, Cavaliers 94 in Orlando on Dec. 11; Cavaliers 126, Magic 99 in Orlando on Jan. 22; Magic 116, Cavaliers 109 in Cleveland on Feb. 22

Regular Season


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 53-29/40-42 ATS

For both the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers, they have been waiting for this day for a long time.

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, it has been a year waiting for some form of redemption after their disappointing showing in last year's Playoff series against the New York Knicks. For the Magic, it has been the anticipation of just getting here. Both teams are feeling pressure in a very different way but Playoff pressure is there nonetheless.

The question for Game 1 of any series is: Who is able to overcome and thrive under that pressure first? Who is going to land the first punch? Who is going to move past the nervousness of the moment and the feeling-out stage that is normal in a first-round series?

If more people are predicting the Cavs to win this series, it appears it is more about experience and trust in Donovan Mitchell to perform on this stage. The Magic are a great unknown. And, especially going on the road for this first game, it is going to be a major challenge for the Magic.

Orlando has been up to these challenges all year. And the team seems ready for the Playoffs. They seem capable of making the adjustments it will take. But this first game might hit them like a ton of bricks one way or another.

Prediction. 102. 38. Magic Cavs Game 1 Prediction. 108. 156

3 Keys to Watch

Right from the Jump

Welcome to the Playoffs. Every moment and every part of the game matters and sets everything up. The pressure and intensity in every possession is something this Orlando Magic team has never experienced and something they need to be locked in on right from the start.

The first quarter of Game 1 specifically is going to say a lot about this Magic team and where they are at. It is going to say a lot about the team's focus and its ability to elevate its play.

The first quarter and the start of games have been a problem for a while for the Magic. Orlando has lost 11 of the last 13 first quarters. The team's two losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers featured Cleveland jumping out to a 37-20 and 38-19 lead. The Magic were never really able to get back in either game.

To say the least, the Cavs know the formula should be to try to jump on the Magic early and blitz them with threes, forcing their defense to scramble and change to stop them and putting a lot of pressure on the Magic's offense to match those shots against a very good Cavs defense.

A game is not won in the first quarter, but it certainly can be lost. The Magic have to be ready from the tip.

Donovan Mitchell, and everything about him

Cleveland Cavaliers fans have been quite pessimistic about this team. Their regular season showed both how good this team can be with their tear through the league in January and how much they can struggle with their 12-17 record since the All-Star Break.

Everything about this series is focused on Donovan Mitchell for that reason.

They are focused on him for what a loss in this series could mean for his future in Cleveland. They are focused on him because he is a big-time Playoff performer -- averaging 27.8 points per game in the playoffs for his career.

They are focused on him because he dealt with a knee injury that slowed him down in the latter part of the season -- Mitchell averaged 19.5 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting after the All-Star Break.

The week off may well have given Mitchell the chance to get healthy and find some feeling in his knee again. It might well have made many of these concerns moot. But nobody will know until he gets out on the floor for Game 1. And going up against a physical defender like Jalen Suggs might create the chance to re-aggravate any soreness.

The Cavaliers cannot win without Mitchell. And Mitchell is a player even the Magic's vaunted defense will worry about. His status and his health are going to be a big swing factor in this series. Game 1 might be the best he will feel.

Battle for the Paint

The Orlando Magic's formula to win is pretty simple. They lock out the paint and defend with intensity and energy, forcing turnovers to try to feed the offense. The offensive game plan is simple: Put pressure on the rim and use their size to get the defense to collapse.

More than ever, the Magic have to win the battle in the paint -- points in the paint and rebounding, especially -- to win games in this series. And that is the difficult challenge of this series with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley roaming around on the interior.

Orlando finished eighth in the league with 51.8 points in the paint per game. But that was a number that decreased late in the season as the Magic started hitting more threes. They averaged only 50.3 per game after the All-Star Break.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the best teams defending the paint last year. They averaged 46.5 points allowed in the paint per game for the season and 47.2 after the All-Star Break.

Next. 3 players playoff outcome 04.20.24. 3 players to determine the Orlando Magic's playoff outcome. dark

The Magic are very good at defending the paint too (47.5 points allowed in the paint per game for the season and 44.8 per game after the All-Star Break). Both teams are going to find it difficult to score on the interior. The team that does will have an inside track to a win.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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