The Cleveland Cavaliers took down the third-seeded Orlando Magic in another reassuring victory that (hopefully) means this team has finally turned the corner. Let’s recap what happened:
Max Strus and Donovan Mitchell set the tone early by uncorking a combined 6 three-pointers in the first quarter. This blitz from the Cavs opened up a lead that would hold for the remainder of the game. Mitchell ended with 35 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Strus added 17 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds of his own.
As for Darius Garland, this felt like a return to form. He notched 26 points and 9 assists to go with zero turnovers. Garland has struggled to take care of the ball this season, ranking in the 6th percentile for turnover percentage. But tonight, DG put together one of his most complete performances of the season.
Lastly, Palo Banchero deserves a mention of his own. He scored a career-high 42 points on 16-26 shooting. The dynamic two-way play of Banchero is a huge reason the Magic have made a surprise leap in the East.
Much of the same can be said for Franz Wagner. Though, the Cavs defense locked in to hold Wanger to just 14 points on 3-16 shooting.
Well, that happened…
This game had plenty of impressive shot-making. Mostly from Mitchell and Banchero. But this flip shot from Georges Niang might just take the cake.
Niang did not start on the right foot this season. He shot just 10-of-41 (24%) from downtown to open the year but has since improved to 23-for-53 (43%) across his last 12 games. His two three-pointers tonight came at critical junctions to stave off a Magic comeback.
Bonus: J.B. Bickerstaff won both of his coach’s challenges tonight.
Last week’s tragic loss to the Portland Trail Blazers will become a distant memory if the Cavs continue playing like this. Cleveland is 8-2 over their last 10 games, steadily climbing the standings.
Up next, they play the Miami Heat — who dealt the Cavaliers their worst loss of the season the last time they met. It’s safe to say the Cavs will want to avoid a repeat occurrence, this time in Miami.