Cleveland Cavaliers (17-37) at Orlando Magic (15-40) Preview
Recently the Cleveland Cavaliers have won one out of two games against the Orlando Magic. In the first meeting, the Magic took down the Cavs 108-104. In the second meeting, Cleveland won 119-109 in a contest where none of their players led in any major statistical category. With the Cavaliers coming off of a big win on ESPN, the Wine and Gold gear up for their third meeting with the Magic tonight in Orlando, Florida.
Opponent’s Blog: Presto in the Paint
Venue: Amway Center
Tipoff: 7 P.M
Betting Line: Cavaliers by -5.5
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio
Where you can listen: WTAM (1100), WFUN (970 AM)
With the way that Kyrie Irving has been playing in the fourth quarter as of late, the Cavaliers should feel confident in their ability to win a close game. Take the Hornets game from Wednesday for example. In a close game, Irving took over and scored 20 points alone in the fourth quarter. Performances like that are what gives a team the confidence that they can win close games. And without J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu, whom does Orlando even have to take shots at the end of games? Jameer Nelson? Aaron Afflalo? None of those names scream “clutch gene.”
One area for concern for Cleveland is their defense on Nikola Vucevic. The Magic’s center ate the Cavaliers alive in their second meeting, scoring 25 points and pulling down 13 boards. Unless Cleveland’s shooting cancels out bad rebounding (which it can), then a Vucevic performance could put the Magic over the top.
Without Redick, the Magic no longer has their best three-point shooter available to them. Having only played one game without the former Duke star, it is not clear how the Magic will adapt to not having Redick. Will they feed the ball inside more and work it into the post? Will Nelson be counted on to create even more offense? Or will it be situation where it is not clear who the primary offense weapon? Tonight could very well be the night we find out.
With the Magic in such a dysfunctional state, I think the Cavaliers should be able to get it done tonight. Irving will (as is the case 95 percent of the time) be the best player on the floor. He’ll outplay Nelson on both ends of the floor, giving the Cavaliers an advantage at the games pinpoint. The keys to victory will lie for both teams in the interior. For Cleveland, can Tyler Zeller establish himself and slow Vucevic? And will Thompson be effective on offense after an off night on Wednesday? For Orlando, can they run their offense through Vucevic, and who will show up as a second option? And coming off a grueling game against the Memphis Grizzlies, will they have the energy to play a full 48 minutes tonight? This game may not be pretty, but there still plenty of story lines going into this one.