How Jarrett Allen has evolved for the Cavaliers in the playoffs against Orlando Magic

Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

In last year's playoffs, Jarrett Allen was ineffective. In the Cleveland Cavaliers' loss in just five games to the New York Knicks, the Cavaliers were beaten up on the interior and on the glass, and Allen struggled.

Going into this year's playoffs, it was apparent Allen had to be up to the task. The Orlando Magic are currently Cleveland's first round opponent this go-round, a young group without much meaningful postseason experience within their rotation, but they were one of the league's top defenses this season, and they're a physical bunch.

So, going into an exponentially more pressure-packed playoffs for Cleveland, whether Allen would rebound from last season's postseason failure and be an impact guy was something on the minds of many it seemed. So far, he's been on-point for Cleveland against Orlando.

Jarrett Allen has answered the bell thus far for the Cavaliers against the Magic

In the first game against Orlando, Allen posted 16 points and 18 rebounds, outrebounding the Magic's highest rebounders Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner by 11 boards. He followed up his stellar night with an even better performance, notching another 16 points and tying the second-most rebounds in a single playoff game in Cavaliers history with 20 rebounds on the night. Nine of Allen's rebounds came on the offense end, helping the Cavs end the match with 18 second-chance points. Allen's interior presence kept the Magic off the glass, only allowing Orlando to grab 41 rebounds as a unit all game.

Allen's key impact as a physical and dominant force of nature on the boards has not been his only growth this series. He has played with intention and determination every possession, showing how important it is for the Cavaliers to be far more physical than they were in last year's playoffs. Thus far, they've exemplified the exact evolution needed in these first two games.

With Allen, he's more than answered the call, and then some, this go-round on the glass, and going forward in the playoffs, Cleveland is going to need him to keep setting the tone in that way. As was aforementioned, he's had 18 and 20 boards in the first two games in this first round series, and he's been making plays defensively.

Allen has also made scoring difficult for the Magic on drives and post moves, totaling two steals in each contest. He registered three rejections on Monday as well. His great timing and urgency as a rotator continues to pop for the Cavs.

Simply put, Allen is doing what the Cavaliers need him to do right now, and while it's been against a Magic team that's inexperienced in the playoffs, it's been great to watch Allen carry forward his regular season play to the playoffs. If Cleveland is going to have a chance at making a deep run, it's going to take each of their core guys playing up to their standard, and Allen is no exception as an interior force on both ends.

In Cleveland's comeback postseason series, Allen has definitely answered the call for the Wine and Gold early on in the playoffs. He just has to keep making winning plays game-to-game and maintain his level of physicality and aggression on the glass and in the paint. If Allen can keep building on his solid start, he will be the X-Factor for Cleveland's playoff run going beyond one round.

Further, if Cleveland can finally get going more offensively on the perimeter, Allen's contributions will be all the more meaningful in closing out and/or generating extra possessions. With that in mind, it'd be sensible to find ways to get players such as sharpshooter Sam Merrill and/or Marcus Morris Sr. some opportunities for shooting. The more that the Cavaliers can punish any mistakes on the perimeter by the Magic's defense, the better Cleveland will be for the rest of the postseason.

As they enter Game Three in Orlando, the Cleveland Cavaliers will rely on Allen's hot start to ignite another terrific performance to take a commanding 3-0 lead on the series. The Magic will enter the night hoping to bounce back from their initial losses, but Allen holds the keys to overcoming Orlando's gameplan for a trifecta of success.

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