Cleveland visit Orlando tonight seeking momentum. The Cavaliers are bound for the play-in tournament, whilst the Magic see out the season. This is Magic Game Day 70!
The tip time from the Amway Center is shown on the Orlando Magic website as being 12 midnight here in the U.K. (7pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando). To watch the game live or on demand you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription.
And now join us as we take a look at what this game could mean to either team.
Season Record And Last Time Out
The Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic had another game to forget as they trailed the New York Knicks for much of the game. Playing without most of our regular starters, the Magic shot just 35 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range in a 118-88 loss to the Knicks on Sunday night at the Amway Center.
I will always try to find positives about a performance, even in defeat but it is hard with this one. Moe Wagner led five Magic players in double figure scoring with 18 points. Moe just missed a double-double grabbing 9 rebounds also. Mo Bamba put up an 18th points/rebound double-double of the season (in 68 games played) with 13 points and 12 boards. Ignas Brazdeikis matched his season high with 13 points (again) as he made his first NBA start. Markelle Fultz finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists as he played increased minutes.
Including tonight the Magic have just 3 games remaining. Orlando’s record for the season is a dismal 20 wins and 59 losses. The Magic remain last in the Eastern Conference, the record tied with the Houston Rockets. Over the last 10 games played the Magic have won 2, having lost 6 games consecutively. The home record stands at 10 wins of 39 games played. On the road the record is 10 wins in 40 games played. Points per game sees the Magic scoring 103.8, whilst conceding 112.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland are virtually assured of the play-in tournament 7th seed position. They have however seen their form slump in the absence of Jarrett Allen.
Last time out on Sunday night head coach JB Bickerstaff saw his team drop to a home court loss by 112-108 to the Philadelphia 76ers, after leading at half-time by 6 points. The defeat was sealed by a Tobias Harris dunk inside the final 8 seconds of the game. The Cavs heavily relied again upon the scoring of Darius Garland who dropped 23 points. Caris LeVert followed with 18, whilst Lauri Markkanen produced 16 points. Lamar Stevens led the bench with 18 points.
The Cavs have a 43-36 season record, seeing them (as already said) placed 7th in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland has won 4 of the last 10 games played. On the road Cleveland have a 19 win of 39 played record this season. The Cavs have struggled on offence but have been solid in defence. They concede a league fourth fewest points per game at 105.2, whilst scoring 107.4.
Head-To-Head – The Cleveland Cavaliers
In 117 regular season games played the score stands at 59-58 in Cleveland’s favour.
The Cavs took the first meeting this season on November 28th. In a tight, hard fought game Cleveland ran out winners 92-105 in Ohio. Evan Mobley joined Lauri Markkanen, Darius Garland and Jarret Allen in posting strong games. From the bench Cedi Osman made life difficult for Orlando. Leading the way for the Magic was Wendell Carter Jr with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds. He was ejected from the game late for throwing his glasses at the game official following a no call.
The second game on March 28th saw Cleveland win by 101-107 in the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse Arena. The win came despite Orlando erasing a 20 point deficit. The Magic were led by Wendell Carter Jr with another double-double of 15 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Franz Wagner, Markelle Fultz, Ignas Brazdeikis and Admiral Schofield all recorded double-digit scoring. For Cleveland Darius Garland, Lauri Markkanen, Isaac Okora and Kevin Love all blitzed the scoring.
Going into this season Orlando were on a 7 game winning streak, having swept the series over the previous two seasons.
These two teams have famously met once in the playoffs, in 2009, resulting in a 4-2 win for Orlando.
Our Opponents – The Cleveland Cavaliers
Head Coach JB Bickerstaff has been hit by key losses to his squad all season and this remains the case. The injury report on ESPN shows that star rookie Evan Mobley has not played since receiving a knee injury against the Magic on March 28th. He remains out for tonight. Colin Sexton and Dean Wade are both out after season ending knee surgery. Jarrett Allen is out with a fractured finger.
Last Game Starters – Darius Garland (PG), Isaac Okoro (SG), Caris LeVert (SF), Lauri Markkanen (PF), Moses Brown (C)
From The Bench – Lamar Stevens, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Ed Davis, Dylan Windler (DNP), (DNP), Brandon Goodwin (DNP), RJ Nembhard Jr (DNP)
The Orlando Magic Lineup And Injury Report
Coach Jamahl Mosley will again be looking to his medical staff before making his final starting line up known. There are questions around the availability of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Admiral Schofield, with all listed as day-to-day and questionable. If there is any risk I personally see little benefit in playing them.
Final Thoughts As Cleveland Visit Orlando Tonight
As Cleveland visit Orlando tonight they will be seeking some momentum to take them into the play-in tournament. They will not want to have to work too hard for the win and will want to avoid injury at all costs.
Cleveland are not a strong rebounding team, being mid-league in all categories and without Allen this statistic has weakened some. Cleveland foul the least in the league per game, resulting in facing very few free throws. The Cavs will guard an opponents three-point shooting with great effect. They move the ball, getting assists and are happy to use the shot clock to get their shot.
Against the Knicks on Sunday Orlando were second best in every department. Out-rebounded, blocked heavily, inefficient at the free throw line and careless with handling the ball. It was horrible to watch. If the Magic are to take a win in one of these three remaining games these mistakes can not continue.
Whilst an absence of key players can be accepted as a factor it can not be the excuse entirely. It is understandable to be struggling for motivation in what are meaningless games. Sadly many of the failings have been prevalent throughout the season. Of the 10 players used by Coach Mosley only Devin Cannady is a new edition. The turnovers and shooting inefficiencies have to be addressed in the off-season or it could be another long 82 games.
The Draft Lottery Picture As Cleveland Visit Orlando
As with last season Orlando are on course to have one of the three best odds in the lottery to land the number one pick. To date Orlando and Houston share an identical record and so are tied for the worst record. Finishing with the worst record guarantees a top 5 pick.
Full information on how this all works is available here on nba.com.
Below and from Tankathon are the full odds and current rankings.
Houston are tonight in Brooklyn to face the Nets. Friday they are in Toronto and close their season on Sunday night at home to Atlanta.
Detroit face Dallas and Milwaukee at home, before finishing on the road in Philadelphia.
Oklahoma are starting tonight a back-to-back at home to Portland and then on the road to face the Jazz. They close their season on the road in LA. First up is a Friday night fixture against the Lakers and on Sunday it is the Clippers.
After playing the Cavs tonight Orlando will travel to Charlotte on Thursday, then concluding the season at home to Miami.
As a fan I just can not bring myself to cheer the Magic losing. However at this point of the season and with the lottery looming on Tuesday, May 17th I will not be too upset by any loss we suffer.