Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers (April 22, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic look to find their footing as they play Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and try to even their first-round series.
Evan Mobley's presence proved to be a major factor in the Orlando Magic's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1.
Evan Mobley's presence proved to be a major factor in the Orlando Magic's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1. / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Magic Cavs Game 2 Matchup 04.22.24. 156. Cavs by 5.5 (O/U 203). 38. NBATV, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Ohio. Apr. 22, 2024. 1-0. 7P. 0-1

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Playoff Series:
Game 1 - Cavaliers 97, Magic 83 in Cleveland; Game 2 - Tonight 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

CLE leads 1-0


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 54-29/41-42 ATS (1-0/1-0 ATS in Playoffs)

The Orlando Magic spent their day after their Game 1 loss saying they did a lot of things right. They adjusted to the intensity of the Playoffs after the first quarter and held firm, they were just unable to get the baskets to get over the hump and back into the game. They felt like they took a heavy punch and are still standing tall.

The Cleveland Cavaliers spent their time after Saturday's game saying they set the physical tone they wanted. But now they have to do it again and again.

Everyone then is trying to figure out what part of Game 1 was real and what will change for the rest of the series. Surely both teams will not shoot that poorly again, but whose defense is likely to make Game 1 closer to the mean? Will Evan Mobley hit those 3-pointers he made early in Game 1? Will Jalen Suggs and Gary Harris be that cold again?

The Magic are not a great shooting team. But they should be able to hit a few more shots. They kicked themselves for all the missed free throws (can they get 30 attempts again, a sign that the physicality did not bother them much?). There was a lot in the Magic's control.

The Cavaliers are likely to note this too. And the simple answer might be that Game 2 is going to be a completely different game from Game 1. If Orlando can tighten up its defensive rotations, what the team learned from Game 1 is likely going to stick. It will come down to whether the Magic can hit enough shots to force the Cavs to make an adjustment defensively and open other things up.

38. Magic Cavs Game 2 Prediction 04.22.24. 103. 156. Prediction. 107

3 Keys To Watch

It's about shooting

A lot of the Orlando Magic's problems all season have been reduced to one thing: their lack of shooting. Everyone knew when the Playoffs came around that defenses were going to dare the Magic to shoot from the outside. Their success was going to come down to whether they could hit those shots and loosen the defense.

Orlando finished the game 8 for 37 from three. That is a victory for the Cleveland Cavaliers' defense, both for the poor percentage and for the attempts from three. This is not a high-volume shooting team and that is usually a sign that the team is not healthy with its offense and movement.

Things get worse, but more optimistic, the deeper into the numbers you go.

The Magic were 3 for 12 on threes where the closest defender was 4-6 feet away and 5 for 23 from three when the closest defender was 6-plus feet away. Even hitting the Magic's near-bottom average on those shots would make up the deficit the Magic faced.

So on one hand, the Magic shot poorly. On the other hand, they got a lot of good looks that they should be confident they can hit. If they can get those looks again, it is hard to imagine them shooting this poorly. But this does feel like a regular occurrence now.

Evan Mobley, the wild card

On its face, Orlando Magic fans might be more concerned with stopping Donovan Mitchell (30 points on 11-for-21 shooting). He was the catalyst for the early run from the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 and the Orlando Magic had to cycle through a few different coverages before settling on how to disrupt him.

On its face, Evan Mobley did not do anything he was not typically doing in the regular season -- he scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots in Game 1 and averaged 15.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

But it was not a typical game for Mobley. And his early shots were probably the biggest thing that tipped the scales for the Cavs, forcing the Magic to adjust their defense on him and opening up gaps for the Cavs to attack.

Mobley hit only two of his four three-pointers. But both of those threes came in the Cavs' opening run making their first five threes. While Cleveland went 3 for 25 the rest of the game, those five early threes set the tone for the game and put the Magic in an early hole. And they were scrambling to defend Mobley the rest of the game.

The Magic may allow Mobley to shoot open threes again and dare him to be a floor spacer in Game 2. He will again be a factor for the Cavs in this game and whether he makes or not could be one of the key factors in this series.

Lineup Shifting

The Orlando Magic made the surprise decision to start Jonathan Isaac to try to bring some more versatility and maximize Isaac's defensive minutes on the floor. The Cleveland Cavaliers did not crush the Orlando Magic on the offensive glass (and Orlando still outscored Cleveland 13-6 on second-chance points).

There was something that worked in the lineup with Isaac. It got off to Orlando's traditional slow start but also settled in defensively for the team's traditional dominance in the third quarter. Orlando is committed to starting Isaac and there was enough to give it another try.

The issue may be the trickle-down effect of starting Isaac. It guts the bench of its superhuman defense and ability to flip games on its head. Wendell Carter and Moe Wagner played only 48 minutes together this season (although fairly successfully at +14.2 points per 100 possessions albeit with a 122.9 defensive rating). The duo struggled in Game 1 -- the lineup with both Carter and Wagner lost 12-9 with 3-for-13 shooting in nearly five minutes.

Disrupting one of the best bench groups in the league when the starting group has still been positive seemed like a curious decision. Breaking in completely new lineups in the Playoffs like this is a huge risk for the Magic. Especially gutting the team's strong bench group.

Orlando will have to figure out how to play with new lineups in real-time. The team likely will have to shrink its rotation and avoid going 10 deep to ensure one of Paolo Banchero or Franz Wagner is on the floor at all times. The all-bench group just did not work for their five minutes in Game 1.

Next. OMD Roundtable Series Prediction 04.21.24. OMD Roundtable: Magic-Cavs Keys and Series Predictions. dark

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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