Thankfully, the Cavs have had two full days to rest and recover since Thursday's grueling duel in San Antonio. Kyrie's 57-point night won't be forgotten anytime soon; the late game heroics of both Irving and LeBron were incredible to watch. The Magic had Saturday night off after dropping a Friday night tilt in Boston. Cleveland is trying to keep the winning streak going, Orlando's trying to get back on the right track. Something's gotta give.
Who: Cavs (42-25) at Magic (21-46)
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
When: 6:00 pm Eastern
TV: FSOH, NBAtv
Enemy Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post
Poor Orlando. They began the post-Jacque Vaughn era by going 6-6 under new coach James Borrego, but then had to play three games in four nights on the road (in Indiana, Milwaukee and Boston) and lost each one. Today, they host Cleveland before setting off for a back-to-back in Texas (in Houston on Tuesday, then Dallas on Wednesday). After that, they come home for a five game home stand that features Portland, Atlanta and San Antonio. Yikes.
Since the coaching change, Victor Oladipo has been very good, averaging 18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game on 53% true shooting. Nikola Vucevic is having a breakout season ahead of his 4 year, $54 million extension kicking in, averaging 19 and 11 on 53% shooting from the field. Both Willie Green and Evan Fournier are questionable for this one, so the Magic might run a bit thin, especially in the backcourt.
One guy to keep an eye on is center Dewayne Dedmon. The former Sixer, Warrior and D-League stud has found his groove with the Magic, playing 13 minutes per night in a reserve role. He holds opponents to a very respectable 44.8% field goal percentage in the restricted area, and Orlando's defense improves by nearly 10 points per 100 possessions when he checks into the game. When he sits, however, look for the Cavs to attack the rim, as the Magic are the 3rd-worst team in the NBA at defending the restricted area.
In all honesty, this one will really come down to whether or not the Cavaliers are focused and not looking ahead to LeBron's second trip to Miami (on Monday night). The Magic should not be able to handle the Cavs defensively and lack the firepower to keep up in a fast-paced game.
FEAR THE SWORD FEARLESS PREDICTION:
Cavs 113, Magic 96. Kevin Love seems to respond with nice outings just as questions pop up about how he's used in the fourth quarter, and I expect him to win the matchup with either Channing Frye, Moe Harkless or Aaron Gordon. Look for a nice night from K-Love.
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