4 keys for Cleveland Cavaliers to overcome Orlando Magic in Round One

The NBA playoffs have arrived, and the Cavaliers have locked up the fourth seed after going 48-34. This Saturday the Cleveland Cavaliers are hosting the Orlando Magic for Game One of the first round series.
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages
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Now that the playoffs are here, NBA coaches are going to pull out all the stops to give themselves any advantage they can with their seasons on the line. The Cleveland Cavaliers will need to develop strategies and gameplans not only to highlight their strengths, but also to exploit Orlando’s weaknesses. The Orlando Magic will no doubt be doing the same, and the Cavaliers need to be much more prepared this postseason to tackle any type of game that comes their way.

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff will certainly be on the hot seat for this playoff series, and the Cavaliers front office will be watching these games closely to make a decision on his future. After last season’s embarrassing playoff loss to the New York Knicks in five games, Bickerstaff desperately needs to win more than just a playoff series but have a deep run where the Cavaliers look like an actual threat to the Eastern Conference. J.B. needs to train the Cavaliers to be much more prepared this postseason as Cavs fans everywhere have high hopes of seeing a tougher and more locked in team this time around.

This playoff series against the Orlando Magic could have a monumental impact on the team’s future. Donovan Mitchell’s contract is eligible for a maximum extension this summer, and his free agency decision looms over the franchise. Losing Mitchell would be a huge blow to this team’s chances of winning a championship in the near future. The Cavaliers are in dire need of a strong postseason to prove to Mitchell that this is a franchise he can trust to put him in the best position for success. 

Let’s take a look at the four keys for the Cavaliers to win their first-round matchup against the Magic.

Cleveland needs to protect the paint

The Orlando Magic leads the entire NBA in free throw attempts per game at 24.4. Meanwhile, they are last in the league in three-pointers made per game at 11, while shooting only 31.3 percent from the arc. The Cavaliers need to force the Magic to shoot more from deep than they feel comfortable doing, cutting off drives to the paint with physical and unrelenting defense.

With Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner being their two leading scorers, the Magic like to get their points inside and around the basket. The Cleveland Cavaliers frontcourt of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will need to do their best to keep the Magic out of the paint and away from the free throw line. The more often that the Cavs deny easy interior baskets, the less confidence the Magic can build throughout the game.

If the Cavaliers are able to force the Magic to take more shots from the outside, they can greatly improve their chances of success. To capitalize on solid defense, though, Cleveland must protect the ball in their offensive sets.

The Cavaliers must limit turnovers

The Orlando Magic are one of the top defenses in the NBA, and something they do very well is create turnovers. The Magic are third in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game at 14.4. The Cavs have been known to get too loose with the ball, specifically when defenses raise the intensity. Cleveland averaged the fourteenth most turnovers per game (13.6) this season and struggled to find fluidity in their passing throughout the final stretch of the regular season. If Cleveland hopes to maximize their offense, rushed or telegraphed passes are unacceptable.

Last postseason, the Cavaliers led the NBA in turnovers per game in their short sample of five games. The Cavaliers and point guard Darius Garland will have to make sure that they take care of the ball and limit turnovers, or this series could slip away from them. There is no excuse any longer for an inefficient or redundant offense in the playoffs. The Cavaliers have the tools at their disposal to evolve their offensive game, and their first round against the Magic poses the perfect opportunity to reform their identity across the league.