After an impressive win over Golden State Warriors on Friday, Orlando added another win on Sunday night, when they defeated Indiana Pacers. Now they are travelling to Cleveland where they will face Cavaliers for the 2nd time this season.
Orlando Magic are coming into this match after two games winning streak, which added to their impressive 8-2 run in the last 10 matches. Looking at their recent match against struggling Indiana Pacers, Orlando started off slow, trailing the Pacers for most of the match. Despite being fairly effective with scoring in the first 3 quarters, they were no match for Indiana who performed better and even held a double-digit lead in the 3rd quarter, however, they failed to hold on to it until the final whistle. Orlando caught up to them at the start of the last quarter and finished the match 5 points ahead of the home side. It was an overall good performance from Orlando, who are currently 8th in the East with 30-34 record.
Cleveland Cavaliers are still at the bottom of the East with a 15-48 overall record. Nonetheless, they have started performing better. In the last 5 matches, they have managed to defeat Suns (111:98), Grizzlies (112:107) and Knicks (118:125), while they failed to do the same against Portland Trail Blazers (110:123) and Detroit Pistons (93:129) on Saturday night. Since Love rejoined the squad, Cleveland managed to win more games, however once paired with a team that is not among the worst in the league, the issues in the Cleveland squad become obvious. Against Portland, we saw Cleveland heavily outmatched and same can be said for their most recent match against Pistons. The most worrying factor in Cleveland is their dismissal defence, which let Portland shoot with 62.1% accuracy from behind the arc, while Pistons managed to hold a respectable 54.1% accuracy from the 3pt line. Furthermore, Cleveland are not even decent when it comes to scoring either. Yes, they did manage to score 125 points against Knicks, but then again Knicks have one of the worst defences in the league, but when paired with Pistons, that number quickly dropped to only 93. Cleveland will come into this match without Love and Zizic, while Orlando will be without Augustin and Iwundu alongside Bamba, Fultz and Mozgov.
I’m not too keen on Cleveland defence or offence for that matter. They basically lack anything a good NBA team needs, and while they did manage to win 3 out of their last 5 matches, those wins were not impressive. As mentioned, Cleveland’s problems became crystal clear against Portland and Detroit, where their offence was completely shut down, while the defence was leaking points. This time out they will face the improved Magic who come into this match after 2 consecutive wins and with high desire to win, just to keep their playoff spot. Not only will Cavaliers enter the match without Love, who has been the key player in their successful campaigns against Grizzlies, Suns and Knicks, but they will also face a team that is more than capable of defending their basket. There is simply nothing that will work in Cleveland favour tonight except the home court “advantage” of playing at Quicken Loans Arena, where Cavaliers lost 6 out of their last 10 matches and 2 in a row. Without Love and high morale among Magic, this one should be an easy win for the visitors
Prediction: Orlando magic -5.50 points
Odds: 1.87 Matchbook