Cavaliers Game Three Preview: Early frontcourt domination, defense first and more

Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Through two outings, the Cleveland Cavaliers have taken care of home court, outscored the Magic by 24 points, recovered 21 extra rebounds and have been nearly 10 percent more accurate (EFG) from the field. Of course, Donovan Mitchell is shattering inside protections, but Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are responsible for much of the success, too.

The entire Cavaliers team has elevated their play, responding to the criticisms they earned after last year's postseason dud. Cleveland is showcasing the value of experience and self awareness in defeat. With Game Three on the horizon, the Cavaliers must lean on their areas of most success and take it on the road as they start their two-game stretch in Orlando.

Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen have been dominant for Cleveland

In Game One, both big men blew up the other team's offense and relentlessly pressured the paint.

Mobley defended Paolo Banchero for nearly five minutes, holding him to zero makes on four attempts. The former’s length and closeout speed contested a shot in the corner and top of the key plus disordered two paint entries. He held Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz to zero of five makes as well.

On the other side, he scored on a rim roll, hooked in the lane, spun past Anthony at close range for a dunk, made a baseline layup and swished two three-pointers. In his second playoff berth, Mobley has shown maturation as an offensive threat while maintaining his defensive versatility.

Mobley followed up by hounding Banchero and Jonathan Isaac in Game Two. He guarded Banchero’s unsuccessful catch-and-shoot jumper and prevented four more baskets in transition and on a half-court drive. Isaac couldn’t connect over Mobley’s outstretched limbs on two shots, either.

Alongside Mobley, Jarrett Allen, the leading rebounder in the series, was also disruptive as a helper, and 15 of his 18 recovered boards were on defense in Game 1. On top of that, he has allowed the Magic nine baskets in 22 possessions when he is the primary defender.

In both outings, his main matchup was Isaac, a below-average outside option. This has allowed Allen to sag off and clog the lane. When Allen was moved onto Banchero in Game One, he swiped the ball free twice. Allen's intelligent play and movement between the perimeter and paint has been crucial to Cleveland's success.

Then on Sunday for the second game, the Fro (Allen) created havoc, rejecting three shots and stealing the ball twice. He stopped Wendell Carter, Jr. from swishing two trays and making a putback layup, too.

On offense, he’s logged 12-of-20 attempts on rim rolls, cuts, post ups and fastbreak attacks. Additionally, Allen has registered seven screen assists, creating 17 points and is emulating Moses Malone, averaging six offensive rebounds.