Orlando Magic need total team effort to even series with Cleveland Cavaliers

The Orlando Magic started off the 2024 NBA Playoffs with a loss, but a win in Game 2 would flip the series in their favor and give them control heading back to Orlando.
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic need a win in Game 2 on Monday night.

Orlando can potentially gain a ton of confidence and take home-court advantage in this series with a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2, returning home with a series split. A series does not being, after all, until the road team wins a game.

Will the Cavaliers beat the Magic twice in three days? Or will the Magic fight back and get a much-needed win by throwing a haymaker in the face of a Donovan Mitchell-led squad?

In the words of the legendary power forward Kevin Garnett, "Anything is possible!" And yes, that includes the Magic winning a game in Cleveland.

The Magic certainly believe so. The vibes from the team after the game was confidence that with some shot-making they could easily climb back into the series with the way their defense played.

That is easier said than done though against a Cavs team that is also a top-10 defensive team. And winning on the road, where the Magic went 18-23 this season. Winning on the road was a struggle.

They are going to have to steal a game on Cleveland's court if they have any plans of advancing into the second round.

The Magic could possibly win if Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner can mirror their season scoring averages and get contributions from the "others."

While Banchero had 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting, adding five assists (against nine turnovers) and Franz Wagner had 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting (scoring 10 in the fourth quarter after a 3-for-10 start), no one else really stepped up their scoring.

Those others are players like Gary Harris, who played 33 minutes without scoring a bucket, missing all five of his 3-pointers. Guys like Markelle Fultz, who also went scoreless after playing 13 minutes off the bench.

The Magic's bench contributions were unusually forgettable with Wendell Carter scoring only three points in a new bench role and Joe Ingles tallying one point.

Those four players combined for four points, seven assists and 11 rebounds. That is unacceptable. This is the Playoffs.

It got worse with Jalen Suggs struggling to shoot making only three of his seven 3-pointers and 4 of 16 shots overall. Cole Anthony scored four points, but missed all seven of his shots.

The Magic will need those guys to play much better.

If they do, then the Magic may leave Monday night with a win in Cleveland. A win Monday in Cleveland changes the trajectory of the series in Orlando's favor.

The Magic will have two home games in the Kia Center where they are one of the better teams in the NBA. The Magic ended the year with a 29-12 record at home, which is third-best home record in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics.

Those others play a crucial part in the team playing lot better. Banchero showed up in many ways (he knows he has to reduce his turnovers) for his first playoff game.

Orlando knew after Game 1 there was a lot of good that the team did, especially on defense. But the team will still need more. They need to tighten their defensive rotations and communication. They need to do a better job picking up in transition. And, yes, they need to make shots.

The Magic will have to correct their mistakes from Game 1 if they plan on defeating a Donovan Mitchell led team in the postseason. There were things that the Magic could've done differently which would've put them in a better position to pull off a win.

Orlando will have to make some adjustments on offense to create motion and get their key players downhill. Then it will become about decisionmaking and finding the right passes and making on-target passes for shooters to shoot with rhythm. The team has not lost any confidence in themselves despite the Game 1 loss.

This motion will create slashing lanes in the baseline for Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner and potentially have the Cavaliers' defense daydreaming at the top of the key.

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It will take a total team effort to beat the Cavaliers on their home court. If those "others" do come to play in Game 2, then the Magic should take over this series and leave Cleveland tied 1-1.