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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2. Playoff Donovan Mitchell is back and healthy

Donovan Mitchell only played eight games during the last two months of the regular season due to a knee and nose injury. In those eight games, he only exceeded 20 points in three of them, and he shot just under 30 percent from the field in the month of March. Mitchell was showing some progress in April (with all three of his 20-point games being in that month), but it was still unclear how healthy he would look for the playoffs.

Fortunately, Mitchell looked like his usual self in the opening win. He showed flashes of his famed athleticism with multiple drives to the basket and had his legs under him when shooting from the outside. Donovan was the best player in the game, scoring 30 points and grabbing three steals. If the Cavaliers want to make a run this postseason, they will need a healthy and efficient Donovan Mitchell.

In Mitchell's Utah Jazz years, he built a reputation as a phenomenal playoff performer, though he could fall into cold spells and lose his way at times. With his 50-point duels with Jamal Murray in the 2020 NBA Bubble, Mitchell's postseason legacy drew Cleveland's interest for the massive 2022 trade in the first place. For Cleveland to reach their ceiling, they must play through Mitchell.

3. Cleveland's turnovers could be a problem again

After leading all playoff teams in turnovers per game last year, the Cavaliers have not fully rectified this flaw and turned the ball over fairly often against Orlando. Still, the Cavaliers struggled again with ball pressure, turning the ball over 17 times, creating scoring runs for Orlando to get back in the game. Garland and Strus each seemed to be rattled by the pressure, turning it over five times each. The Orlando Magic are a formidable defensive team and led the NBA in turnovers caused per game. The officials also let teams play even more aggressively in the playoffs and the Cavaliers will need to adjust to the physicality. 

The Cavaliers seemed to want to send a message that they were going to be tougher this year and not be pushed around. Isaac Okoro and Georges Niang both received technical fouls early, setting the tone for Cleveland's physicality. Hopefully, the Cavaliers are able to address the ball security issues and continue to bring a tough attitude to court and control the series.

Fortunately, Cleveland forced 12 Orlando turnovers, including nine from Banchero alone. The Cavs clearly leaned into their experience and punished the Magic's playoff rookie mistakes. Entering the second game, the Cavaliers must prepare for Orlando to prioritize pushing Cleveland to their limit with turnovers.