On Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be going against one of the top squads in the Eastern Conference thus far in the Orlando Magic. Orlando lost their last contest to the Brooklyn Nets, but the Magic had rattled off nine straight wins prior to that, and they've been one of the top stories in early-season action. The Magic are currently third in the Eastern Conference.
Led by Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, this young Orlando squad has been playing with tons of energy, and they're a well-balanced squad with a No. 3 defense and have one of the league's top benches. For the Wine and Gold, they're going to have to come out with urgency after being well-rested, and throughout the course of 48 minutes, Cleveland has to have high-level focus.
Hopefully, the Cavaliers get off to a solid start, and can start to gather some traction ahead of their next four-game road trip.
The Cavs need to be on their game on Wednesday, when they'll host one of the league's up-and-comers in the surging Magic.
First, let's take a glance at the injury report for Wednesday, when the Cavs could be getting back one of their defensive forwards.
Cavaliers-Magic: Injury Report
Cavs injuries: Caris LeVert (out, knee); Ricky Rubio (out, Not With Team); Ty Jerome (out, ankle); Emoni Bates (out, G League - Two-Way); Dean Wade (questionable, ankle).
Magic injuries: Markelle Fultz (out, knee); Wendell Carter Jr. (out, hand); Kevon Harris (out, Coach's Decision); Jett Howard (out, G League - On Assignment); Trevelin Queen (out, G League - Two-Way); Jonathan Isaac (questionable, ankle).
Cavaliers-Magic: TV Info
This Cavaliers-Magic matchup will be available on Bally Sports Ohio and Bally Sports Florida for fans in-market and subscribed. For streaming, NBA League Pass will have this one.
The Cavaliers are going to be playing a different level of opponent on Wednesday, after an awful loss to the Portland Trail Blazers last Thursday, and a win where they were had to claw back and eventually won over the lowly Detroit Pistons on Saturday. Cleveland has to be on-point this go-around.
It's going to start with the backcourt for the Cavs, and Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell have to set the tone against Anthony Black, Jalen Suggs and guys like Cole Anthony. And realistically, with Caris LeVert sidelined, it could make a difference to have Craig Porter Jr. get some run off the bench, given what he's shown in recent prior weeks when he had more meaningful opportunities.
For Cleveland, though, they're going to have to find ways to contain Banchero and Wagner, who have led the way for this surging Orlando team. Their combination of all-around skill set, size and two-way play is going to be something the Wine and Gold will have to find answers for over the course of this game.
Also with that in mind, the likes of Evan Mobley, Max Strus and feasibly Isaac Okoro will have to make their share of contributions to get Cleveland off to a nice start on defense, and on the flip side, the Cavaliers cannot let this Magic squad get tons of easy ones in transition. Dean Wade potentially being involved here could help Cleveland on the defensive end in some rotational minutes, too.
Ultimately, however, one of the reasons to be optimistic about Cleveland going into this game, aside from the recent rest and practice days, is that the Cavs have come up with impressive performances versus the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks this season. While they clearly need to be more consistent, the Cavaliers have typically shown up and played well when they've had tough opponents. That, and sensing a greater sense of urgency needed here and in games ahead, went into this prediction for Wednesday.
Prediction: Cavs 114, Magic 109
Cavs Upcoming Schedule:
Following this Magic game, Cleveland will take on the Miami Heat in South Beach on Friday night, followed up by another game against Orlando, then on the road, on Monday night.
From there, the Wine and Gold will play the Boston Celtics on the road in the second leg of a back-to-back on Tuesday night.