The Cleveland Cavaliers look to avoid another first-round exit, while the young and upstart Orlando Magic hope to continue making noise. The season series was split at 2-2.

Catch the game tomorrow at 1:00 AM, Manila time.

AWAY: Orlando Magic (0-0)

Projected starting five:

  • Jalen Suggs
  • Gary Harris
  • Franz Wagner
  • Paolo Banchero
  • Wendell Carter Jr.

The Magic didn’t have a good end to their regular season as they went just 2-4 in their last six games, but overall, the team has got to be feeling quite pumped as the new core is debuting in the postseason.

Then again, just by looking at the head-to-head numbers, there’s a lot of room for improvement. Orlando averaged 107.5 points per game vs. Cleveland this season, with a -5.0 point differential. Though leading scorer Paolo Banchero was in natural form and paced the team with 23.0 points in four meetings with the Cavs this season, he also had 4.3 turnovers, which has to be fixed as it wouldn’t fly in the playoffs. Number two guy Franz Wagner, meanwhile, was only at 16.0 PPG on a 39.3% clip in those matchups, so he too needs to be better.

The same applies with the other key guys, namely Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, and Wendell Carter Jr. Suggs, in particular, had a quiet 6.3 PPG in 20.3 minutes – though he and the guys’ defense on the Cavs starting backcourt is more important. 

Franz’s older brother Moritz, who’s a back-up big man, was at 14.3 PPG in only 20.3 minutes, which was pretty serviceable. We’ll see if he can keep it up.


HOME: Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)  

Projected starting five:

  • Darius Garland
  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Max Strus
  • Evan Mobley
  • Jarrett Allen

Like the Magic, the Cavs also went a rough 2-4 in their last six regular season games, but they should also be unbothered as everyone seems healthy and geared up to redeem themselves from last year’s first-round exit.

The Cavs backcourt are in the spotlight with their dynamic play, with Donovan Mitchell being an elite scorer, and Darius Garland being a crafty facilitator. However, both have good-scoring and assists numbers in the season series with Orlando – Mitchell with 27.3 PPG and 7.3 APG and Garland at 26.7 PPG and 8.0. Their confidence to navigate around the opposition is high.

The towering presence of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley will be key too, as both establish their energy through rebounding and rim protection, as well as a growing ability to score whenever needed. The two are walking double-doubles, most especially Allen, who’s one of the league leaders in that category.

Lastly, the swingmen. At least one between Max Strus, Caris LeVert, Sam Merrill, and Isaac Okoro will be the X-Factor as their play help boost the backcourt and bigs.

Cleveland averaged 112.5 PPG on Orlando this season.


Spread: Cavs (-4.5)

Over/Under: Over (207.5)