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What to watch for in Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic

Will Cleveland get a 50th win and lock up the fourth seed in the East?

Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 2-0 on the season against the Orlando Magic. But the two teams have not played since Dec. 2, when the Cavs won 107-96 behind 34 points from Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland. Kevin Love was still on the Cavs back then.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (49-30) vs. Orlando Magic (34-44)

Where: Amway Center — Orlando, Florida

When: 7:30 p.m. EST

TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports Southeast

Spread: Cavs -4.5 (via Draft Kings)

Cavs’ expected starting lineup: Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Dean Wade, evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen

Cavs’ injury report: Isaac Okoro (OUT - knee), Dylan Windler (OUT - left foot sprain)

Magic expected starting lineup: Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr.

Magic injury report: Jonathan Isaac (OUT - left abductor), Admiral Schofield (QUESTIONABLE - ankle sprain)

What to watch for

Missing Isaac Okoro. Okoro is again listed as out with a left knee soreness, making this the fourth straight game that he’s missed due to injury. What Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has said about the injury — that it’s been bothering him for a while, that he didn’t know if he’d be back the playoffs — doesn’t sound great.

The Cavs also miss Okoro. As good as their defense is built around Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, it hits another level when it holds up on the perimeter. Okoro is Cleveland’s best option at the point of attack. When he’s not out there, the defense doesn’t feel as sturdy. The stats don’t indicate Okoro is a massive piece. But he’s important. And there’s no real alternative on the roster.

The Cavs’ are on the doorstep. The Cavs’ magic number to clinch the four seed is down to one, meaning that they lock up home court in the first round with a win or a New York Knicks loss. (New York next plays Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers.) That makes this game have stakes.

This is also the Cavs’ chance to get to 50 wins on the year, making them the fifth team in the league to get to 50 wins on the season. (The Memphis Grizzlies could also get there on Tuesday if they beat the Portland Trail Blazers, which they probably will.) That’s a real accomplishment that reflects how good this team is and how much they’ve improved on last season. That’s worth taking stock of before the playoff begin.

Donovan Mitchell is on a scoring heater. Here’s some numbers for Donovan Mitchell’s last three games, where he’s scored 44, 42 and 40 points.

  • Mitchell is shooting 55.6% from the field and 46.7% from three.
  • He’s taking 10 three-pointers per game, nearly one more per game than he’s averaging for the season
  • He has a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio over those games, indicating how much this stretch of play has been about buckets

The Cavs are 1-2 over these three games, for whatever that’s worth. Mitchell himself would prefer to be 3-0 and him not have 40-point nights vs. this. But still: He’s absolutely going off as the regular season wraps up, a fitting end to an All-NBA campaign for Mitchell.