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Season Series: Cavaliers 121, Magic 111 in Cleveland on Dec. 6; Tonight in Orlando; Jan. 22 in Orlando; Feb. 22 in Cleveland
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The Orlando Magic have had only two revenge games this year -- after their close loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, they hosted the Lakers at the Amway Center later in the week and throttled them on the home floor. The other instance was the Magic's lifeless response in Brooklyn a few weeks after the Brooklyn Nets cleaned house at Barclays Center in the In-Season Tournament.
Orlando has done well in most cases of responding to losses. The team has never lost more than two games in a row this season -- and has never been below .500. Orlando has reached a higher plane of winning and excellence. And the team is downright unbeatable at home.
Still, the Cleveland Cavaliers did some things that certainly bothered the Orlando Magic in last Wednesday's game. Donovan Mitchell proved difficult to corral and he had a hot-shooting night from three. The Magic's own poor 3-point shooting also likely fed the Cavaliers' ability to get out and spread the floor.
The Orlando Magic had something of a "get-right" game in blowing out the Detroit Pistons on Friday. That was needed and helped set the defense right. But it is also the Pistons. And now the Magic have to show that carried over.
To their benefit then, perhaps, Evan Mobley is OUT for the game with left knee soreness.
3 Keys To Watch
Franz vs. Not Mobley
While everyone might choose to focus on the Orlando Magic's glaringly bad 2-for-23 3-point shooting performance from last week's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers as the determining factor in their defeat, I would point out Franz Wagner's struggles breaking down Evan Mobley.
Wagner has had some shooting struggles this year. But he is still averaging 20.7 points per game and up to 46.2 percent shooting for the year.
Against the Cavaliers and largely against Mobley, Wagner scored 14 points on 3-for-16 shooting (he had nine assists, to his credit). And Mobley was the primary factor in that poor shooting night.
According to NBA.com's matchup statistics, Wagner shot only 2 for 8 against Mobley in Wednesday's game.
That was unusual considering Wagner shot 10 for 14 in three games against him last year. And considering how generally efficient Wagner is anyway. Without Mobley in the paint, Wagner should have clearer lanes to attack the basket and attack only one shot blocker in Jarrett Allen.
Appreciation for Darius Garland
When everyone thinks about the Cleveland Cavaliers, they are always concerned about the potential for Donovan Mitchell to go off. He did that agianst the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, scoring 35 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
The quiet part of that game was that Darius Garland brutalized the Magic on the interior and the mid-range. Orlando struggled to contain and defend him as much as anybody else on the roster. He finished that game with 26 points and nine assists, making 10 of 18 shots.
Garland is kind of forgotten as he has struggled to find his fit with the new pieces Cleveland has added. But Garland's game has grown a ton in recent weeks. He is racking up more steals and dishing the ball out a lot more while figuring out how to play off the ball more.
Cole Anthony said part of the problem in Wednesday's game was the Cavaliers were able to hit enough early shots to spread the defnese out. That created gaps for a player like Garland to attack and find his space. Orlando will have to contain him and keep the Cavs' guards out of the paint.
The Orlando Magic are starting to get a little bit healthier.
Coach Jamahl Mosley announced after the team's shootaround that Jonathan Isaac will be AVAILABLE for Monday's game at the Amway Center. Jalen Suggs remains a game-time decision, but he was doing shooting drills to test the ankle out. His absence does not appear to be long.
Wendell Carter and Markelle Fultz (and Kevon Harris) are also making notable progress in their returns. When media entered the facility after the team's shootaround both were wearing the famous Green Goblins jersey suggesting they were more involved in practice. They would later work on some offensive shell drills as they get back into the swing of things.
Mosley said both are progressing from their injuries although they still have benchmarks they need to clear. But he added Carter is starting to do contact work with coaches. The team will have two more practices this week before heading on the road for a weekend series with the Boston Celtics.