Game day 7, the Cleveland Cavaliers vs Orlando Magic in the first of two meetings this week in the Amway. Time to get back to winning games!
This game tips off at a UK time of 00:00 midnight (7pm Eastern Time for our friends in Orlando).
To watch the game live or on demand here in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription.
THE SEASON SO FAR
Orlando have 4 wins this season. The wins came in the first 4 games of the season starting with victory over Miami by 113-117. This was followed on Game Day 2 and Game Day 3 beating the Washington Wizards by 130-120 and 120-113. The final win came on Game Day 4, a hard fought 118-107 over OKC.
After that it has all got a little ugly as Orlando have tasted defeat 116-92 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Game Day 5 and 108-99 to a tenacious OKC team in our last outing on Game Day 6.
THE MATCHUP – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS ORLANDO
Again tonight could be a tough one for Orlando through injury. The absence of Evan Fournier on Saturday night resulted in the first change to Coach Clifford’s starting line-up this season. And it showed.
Cleveland, like Orlando have started the season beyond what many felt they were capable of. Both teams sit with a 4-2 winning record. In our preview of the Eastern Conference we also saw the Cavaliers as being a struggling team. Our take was that the Cavs are not likely to trouble the postseason positions. We wrote then “They certainly have some nice pieces, will battle in games but expect them to be getting another high lottery pick”.
In some ways the Cavs are in the same position as Oklahoma. They have some quality young players who give it everything. They can be a tenacious and stubborn opponent. There are players on the roster who are capable of scoring the ball and playing strong defence.
Orlando are seeking to return to winning games after the defeats by the Sixers and OKC.
GAME DAY 7 OPPONENTS – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
So let’s take a look at our opponents for the next two games.
Last season they had a 19-46 record, ending 15th in the Eastern Conference. That saw them finishing 25th in NBA Offensive Ratings and 29th in Defensive Rating. They drafted much rated forward Isaac Okoro at No. 5. The front office also brought in JaVale McGee and Thon Maker.
A season start of 4-2 has resulted in Cleveland being 2nd in the Defensive Rating (102) and 25th on offense (104.6). They sit 4th in the Eastern Conference.
Last time out Coach JB Bickerstaff saw his Cleveland team win on the road in Atlanta 96-91. Very few teams hold the Hawks under 100 points.
In Atlanta the Cavaliers starting line-up was Larry Nance Jr (9 PPG), Colin Sexton (26 PPG), Dante Exum (4.6 PPG), Darius Garland (17.2 PPG) and Andre Drummond (17 PPG).
From the bench came JaVale McGee (10.5 PPG), Cedi Osman (11.2 PPG), Thon Maker (3.3 PPG), Dean Wade (2 PPG) and Damyean Dotson (4 PPG).
As I write according to ESPN the Cavaliers have an extensive injury list. Matthew Dellavedova is out with concussion. Kevin Porter Jr is out for a personal matter. Isaac Okoro is questionable with a foot injury. Darius Garland is questionable with a shoulder strain. Kevin Love is out long term to a calf injury. Dylan Windler has a wrist fracture and is therefore out.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS ORLANDO MAGIC – THE HEAD-TO-HEAD HISTORY
In 112 regular season games played the score stands at 57-55 to Cleveland. Orlando are on a 4 game winning streak, sweeping the series 3-0 last season.
These games are often close affairs. One of my favourite moments in the Amway was the Evan Fournier buzzer beating winner from November 2018. .
These two teams have famously met once in the playoffs, in 2009, resulting in a 4-2 win for Orlando.
THE MAGIC INJURY REPORT
There are 5 injuries for us to look at.
For some time to come there will be no change on the absence of Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu, both being long term and out indefinitely.
James Ennis is listed on ESPN as being questionable with a hamstring injury.
Chum Okeke (3 PPG) limped off the court in the 76ers defeat. He is expected to be absent from the rotations for multiple weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Evan Fournier (14.8 PPG) is now listed as day-to-day but is questionable for tonight with the back spasm issue that saw him withdraw from the Sixers defeat and miss the last game totally.
Mo Bamba had been on the injury list but no longer features. He had been active in full contact drills but suffered a blow to the head in practice before the Philadelphia game. He is yet to feature this season.
Aaron Gordon will continue being monitored as he plays through his return from the injury that saw him miss the playoffs. He is still suffering some hamstring discomfort.
THE MAGIC LINE-UP
Coach Clifford was forced into a change from the consistent starting line-up of Markelle Fultz (15.7 PPG), Evan Fournier (14.8 PPG), Aaron Gordon (12 PPG), Dwayne Bacon (7.5 PPG) and Nikola Vucevic (21.5 PPG).
Michael Carter-Williams (6 PPG) stepped into the Fournier slot.
From the bench can come Cole Anthony (8.7 PPG), Terrence Ross (22 PPG), Khem Birch (6.3 PPG), Gary Clark (1 PPG), Jordan Bone (4 PPG) and Karim Mane (0 PPG).
We will have to wait and see what the starting unit is and what rotations are available.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 2nd
SEASON RECORD – 4-2
HOME RECORD – 1-2
ROAD RECORD – 3-0
RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – 1-1
WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 4-0
AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – 2-0
NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 15TH OF 30 (108.1)
NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 12TH OF 30 (108)
OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 19TH OF 30 (112.6)
RECORD WHEN SCORING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – 0-2
WHEN SCORING 110 POINTS OR MORE – 4-0
AND WHEN SCORING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 2-0
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 100 POINTS OR LESS – N/A
WHEN CONCEDING 110 POINTS OR LESS – 2-1
AND WHEN CONCEDING 120 POINTS OR LESS – 4-1
HIGHEST POINTS SCORED THIS SEASON – 130 – GAME DAY 2 VS WASHINGTON WIZARDS
LEAST POINTS SCORED THIS SEASON – 92 – GAME DAY 5 VS PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
MOST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 120 – GAME DAY 2 VS WASHINGTON WIZARDS
LEAST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 107 – GAME DAY 1 VS MIAMI HEAT
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
During our podcast Penny For Your Thoughts we have talked about the new season, our opponents, the Magic squad and a whole lot more!
In the latest episode we discussed the Orlando Magic being off to the best start in franchise history by going 4-0, with wins against the Miami Heat, on game day 2 and game day 3 over the Washington Wizards and finally the Oklahoma City Thunder. Geraint, Mikey and Paul recap the opening week of the season including Markelle Fultz having a career night. We preview this weeks games against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Amway, the second game against the Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
All episodes of the podcast are available on the following platforms:
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/penny-for-your-thoughts/id1539159864
Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8zMjJhNGJiYy9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==
Pocket Casts: https://pca.st/yj2cmpgs
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Keep an eye out each game day across our social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for our match day game Magic MOments where we ask you to predict the outcome of 5 questions we pose. All you have to do is comment.
KEYS TO THE GAME – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS ORLANDO MAGIC
Simply put Orlando must shoot better and foul less! We are taking care of the ball and not committing turnovers (number 1 in the NBA for least turnover per game) but can find ourselves on the backfoot from missing the open opportunities we create. Missed shots has seen the Magic defence scrambling to get set.
The poor shooting translates to a stat that Orlando are last in the NBA for 3 pointers made. In the opening games scoring was across the team with multiple players reaching double figures. This has stalled and we need someone to assist Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross in points production again.
A solid Magic defence is needed, which has not been at it’s best yet this season. Orlando rank last in blocking shots, evidence of the gaps left by Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba.
Coach Clifford has the offence playing at a fast pace. In driving to the basket Orlando are finding some success but too many are being squandered (3rd in drives, 21st in success). If we can draw a foul call from these drives then Orlando are knocking free throws down at over 82% on the season.
Be under no illusion the Cavaliers have come to fight and to win. With every respect to Cleveland if the Magic are to push for the post-season and avoid the play-in tournament then Cleveland are a team we have to be beating.
In basketball no team can be contained entirely, some shots are going to be made. With the Cleveland defensive strength Orlando can not afford to allow the offence to begin rolling as well. Larry Nance Jr, Colin Sexton, Dante Exum, Darius Garland, Andre Drummond, JaVale McGee and Cedi Osman are all capable of scoring.
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC!