#506 Cleveland Cavaliersvs.#505 Orlando Magic
Written by Chris Kubala
NBA: Saturday, October 29, 2016, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, 7:30 pm ET
Line: Cleveland -11; Over/Under: 207.5
A team from the Sunshine State is on the road to face the defending champs in an early season clash. The Orlando Magic continues a road swing as they head to the shores of Lake Erie to face the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night. Orlando was in action Friday night on the road as they faced the Pistons in the Motor City. Cleveland headed north of the border to face the Raptors in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavaliers have a slim 51-48 edge in the regular season series. Cleveland won the last 14 meetings, including a four game sweep last season. Orlando’s last win in the series was a 108-104 home win on November 23, 2012. The Magic’s last road win was a 100-84 triumph on April 15, 2012.
After losing their opener to a division rival in Miami, the Magic battle back to back opponents from the Central Division on the road. Traveling to face the Pistons and Cavaliers will prove to be a good test for Orlando’s rotation. The Magic has a talented frontcourt but the backcourt needs more seasoning as it’s young. Moving Victor Oladipo to Oklahoma City took a major contributor with a little experience from the guard spot. Dealing with a veteran Cleveland group will really test the basketball IQ of the Magic. There’s only so much that coach Frank Vogel can do to combat that difference.
The Magic had its chances against Miami in the opener but a short bench thanks to injuries and suspensions caught up to them in the second half. Orlando saw its reserves outscored 42-17 in the contest. Evan Fournier led the Magic with 20 points in the loss. Nikola Vucevic held his own in the low block, posting a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Elfrid Payton chipped in 16 points plus five assists, Serge Ibaka added 14 points plus seven boards and Aaron Gordon (11 points, eight rebounds, four assists) was also in double figures. Orlando was limited to 38.6 percent shooting from the field and went 6 of 17 from beyond the arc. The Magic also was beaten on the glass by a 52-44 margin, giving up 16 offensive rebounds. The third quarter told the tale in this game: Orlando led by three at the half only to be outscored 30-16 in the stanza.
Cleveland absolutely thrashed the Knicks, though most of their damage was done after intermission. Still, there is a lot of experience and returning players to the rotation from a year ago gives Cleveland a major advantage over their opponents. You can’t teach experience. The Cavaliers have a ton of confidence after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to down the Warriors for the franchise’s first title last year. It’s a safe bet that Cleveland won’t overlook anyone on the schedule, regardless of how early on in the year it is. Don’t expect a letdown just because the Cavaliers played the Raptors Friday night either.
The demolition of the Knicks was led by the usual suspects. Cleveland was led by LeBron James, who posted a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists. Kyrie Irving had a team high 29 points in the game while Kevin Love posted a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Richard Jefferson was the other Cavaliers player in double figures as he added 13 off the bench. Cleveland shot 47.8 percent from the floor and knocked down 13 of 35 from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers were tremendous sharing the ball as they recorded 31 assists on 45 field goals. The team announced that rookie Kay Felder is out of the concussion protocol, making his return to the lineup imminent. Iman Shumpert is also likely to play Friday after logging 14 minutes in the opener. He left the game after suffering concussion like symptoms. The team will expect more from J.R. Smith than a 3 for 13 shooting performance and eight points.
Neither team gets the edge of a rest day as they’re both playing the second of a back to back here. Cleveland has a major edge in experience and they have a terrific collection of talent. The Cavaliers have owned the Magic in the last few seasons. Orlando hasn’t beaten Cleveland in nearly four years and their last win in Cleveland was four and a half years ago. It’s unlikely to see them breaking that trend here. Cleveland has King James and company: that’s more than enough to back them at home. The Cavaliers should win this one with relative ease.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.