Game Preview: Cavaliers look to extend win streak in matchup with Orlando Magic

Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic
Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Make that seven in a row for this Cleveland Cavaliers squad as both Darius Garland and Evan Mobley near their mid-season return from injury.

Cleveland continued to add to its longest winning streak of the season with a 116-95 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Cavs guards Donovan Mitchell and Sam Merrill led the team with 18 points apiece. The Cavaliers continued to put an emphasis on hitting shots from beyond the arc in their weekend win, shooting 43 shots from the 3-point line and 24 by the end of the first half.

Center Jarrett Allen logged his 11th-straight double-double in the Cavs' triumph on the road. He tied former Cleveland centers Elmore Smith and Andre Drummond for the most consecutive double-doubles in franchise history. The one-time All-Star is sporting a 66.7% field goal percentage in 35 games played this season, putting him 1.8% behind Toronto Raptors center Jakob Poeltl and Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford, good for third place in the NBA.

The Cavs will take on a Magic team with plenty to prove on Monday

A once-surging Orlando squad has fallen to 23-20 after starting the season with a record of 14-5.

Orlando places 2.5 games ahead of the Chicago Bulls and one behind the Indiana Pacers for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. The Magic possess a 14-6 home record and have gone 17-12 against conference opponents during their 2023-24 campaign. The Magic strung together an impressive nine-game win streak in November and early December. Their streak saw statement wins over the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, along with back-to-back wins over the Bulls and Washington Wizards.

Cleveland went 4-0 against the Magic during the 2022-23 season, winning by an average margin of 12.5 points in the season-series sweep. Orlando has split its two games with the Cavs this year, falling in a 10-point loss at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse before claiming victory over Cleveland in Orlando two games later. Both teams are led bya talented and energetic young core, making the matchups between the two squads electric each time.

The Magic are 2-3 in their last five matchups, most recently defeating the Miami Heat at home on Sunday behind 20 points and 10 rebounds from forward Paolo Banchero. Center Wendell Carter, Jr. added 17 points and nine rebounds as he made seven of his 11 shot attempts. The Heat hit just 37.5% of their shots from the floor in the Magic win.

Banchero, the former first selection in the 2022 NBA Draft, leads Orlando with averages of 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. The former Duke forward averaged 31 points and eight rebounds in Cleveland's two matchups with the Magic this season. He poured on 42 points and hit 16-of-26 shots from the floor as the Cavs took a 121-111 December victory in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

While the Cavs' impressive stretch on defense has pushed them up to third place in the league in defensive rating, the Magic are not too far behind. Their rating of 111.2 puts them ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets for fifth place in the NBA. Orlando held the Cavaliers to 94 points and a 35.3% field goal percentage in its most recent matchup with Cleveland.

The Cavs must continue to find ways to get their teammates involved to keep up their winning ways. Cleveland leads the league with 318.4 passes made per game over its last 15 games. Its 30 assists per game over the same span puts it ahead of the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers for about sixth place in the NBA. Mitchell has averaged 7.3 assists per game over his last 15 games and a career-high 5.9 assists per game this season.

"We're sharing the game. That's what we're trying to do: Make sure that everybody gets a piece of it because we just make the right basketball play. If we make the right basketball play over and over again, we've got guys that are talented enough that can make the play."

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff

Cleveland's new offensive approach has propelled them past an array of tough teams, and keeping this mentality against Orlando will be crucial to extend conference-leading their win streak. With each win over this stretch, the Cavs are setting the table for the return of a healthy starting five ahead of the All-Star break and second half of the season.

The Cavs will tip off against the Magic at 7:00 p.m. EST on Monday in the Kia Center. The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Ohio.

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