4 takeaways from Cleveland Cavaliers' Game One victory against Orlando Magic

The Cleveland Cavaliers were victorious in their first game of the playoffs, beating the Orlando Magic convincingly 97-83 and defending homecourt.
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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1. This series is Cleveland's to lose

The gap in talent between the Cavaliers and Magic was on full display in Game One. When the Cavaliers offense was engaged and moving the ball, they were able to consistently get good looks and their premier offensive players (Garland and Mitchell) were a combined 17-32 from the field and 5-o14 from behind the arc.

When the Cavaliers were able to handle the ball pressure, they were creating offense from the inside and out. Cleveland started the game on fire, with their aforementioned quick five triples, then missing 18 threes in a row. Despite this frustrating cold stretch, the Cavaliers were still able to withstand all of Orlando’s runs and never lost their lead. It is a really good sign for the Cavaliers to shoot 26.7 percent from behind the arc and still win the game by double digits.

The Cavaliers set a franchise record for three-pointers in a season and were seventh in the NBA in three-pointers per game at 36.7 percent throughout the regular season. This ear, Cleveland relies on the three-point shot in a big way for their offense, but they showed good versatility and diversity in their offensive approach against Orlando. Donovan Mitchell hit multiple floaters, and the big men Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen each scored 16 points. Offensively, the Cavaliers showed they should be able to score consistently in this series, winning by double digits when shooting so inconsistently from the outside.

The Cavaliers’ defensive strategy was executed well as they held the Magic to only 83 points on 32.6 percent from the field and 21.6 percent from behind the arc. Cleveland's defenders did a great job taking away what the Magic do best, cutting off and contesting drives from their two leading scorers, Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. By contesting the inside with their length, the Magic were forced to shoot 37 three-point shots - something their offense does not do well. The Magic are 23rd in the NBA in three-point percentage and last in three-pointers made.

Shooting from the outside is not what Orlando's offense is comfortable doing, and the Cavaliers knowingly dared them to take more shots from deep than typical. The Magic did shoot an abnormally low percentage from the field, but there isn’t much evidence that they are capable of being a high-scoring playoff team yet. The Magic were 23rd in the NBA in points per game, and it is unclear if Paolo Banchero or Franz Wagner are capable of being true number one options in the playoffs at this stage.

Both players enjoy attacking the rim and can have a hard time scoring when forced to shoot from the outside. Banchero shot 33.9 percent from three during the regular season, while Wagner shot a very low 28.1 percent. The Magic stars either need to start hitting from the outside consistently or surround themselves with better shooting. The Magic do go to the free throw line more than any team in the NBA and shot 30 free throws today, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Cavs. If the Cavaliers can stay tough with their interior defense, the Magic will have a hard time scoring this series, and the Cavaliers should be able to stay in the driver’s seat.