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After a rough three-game road trip, the Wine & Gold return to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse – where they tip off a five-game homestand on Wednesday night, welcoming the Magic to town.
The Cavaliers dropped a tough one on Monday night in Tampa, with the Raptors using a quick 7-0 run to end the third quarter and pull away from there, holding off J.B. Bickerstaff’s shorthanded squad to keep Cleveland winless on the roadie. Rookie Isaac Okoro posted a career-high for a Cavs team that’s now dropped six of its last seven.
After a strong start to the season, the Magic have fallen on hard times after unloading some key veterans at the Trade Deadline – dropping 12 of their last 13 outings, including a lopsided loss to the Lakers on Monday night in Orlando. During their current six-game losing streak, the Magic have fallen by an average of 16 points per.
The Cavaliers have dropped six straight to the Magic, including a pair of double-digit losses in the Magic Kingdom back in early January. Of course, both teams will look much different when they tangle on Wednesday night in Cleveland.
April hasn’t been the kindest month to the Cavaliers, especially considering the injuries that have piled up in recent days. But if there’s one positive to take from that stretch, it’s the rapid ascension of Darius Garland.
With Collin Sexton on the shelf with a concussion, Garland has had to do more heavy lifting on the offensive end – and he’s done just that, averaging 22.9 points per over his last 11 games, topping the 20-point mark seven times during that stretch that began with a career-best 37 points in a blowout win in San Antonio.
The sophomore from Vandy has also been outstanding in getting his teammates involved – averaging 7.4 assists during that stretch, with two games of double-digit dimes, including a 10-assist night on Monday in Tampa.
Wednesday night will be Garland’s first meeting against Orlando this year, having missed the two games in early January with a shoulder injury.
Since returning from a thigh injury that sidelined him for 23 games, veteran guard Gary Harris has been solid in his return.
Harris suffered the injury while a member of the Nuggets and returned in a Magic uniform – averaging 11.4 points in the nine games since he’s been back. The former Michigan State standout has tallied double-figure scoring in four of his last five outings – including a 17-point effort in Monday’s loss to the Lakers.
Another player Orlando acquired at the Deadline – Wendell Carter, Jr. – has been playing well of late despite the team’s overall struggles.
A player the Wine & Gold are familiar with after facing him through the first two years of his career in Chicago, the former Blue Devil has – like Darius Garland – flourished in the month of April.
Over that stretch, Carter has averaged 14.5 points and 9.4 boards per – notching double-figures in all but two of those 13 games and doubling-up in five of them. Carter has faced the Cavaliers twice as a member of the Bulls this season, averaging 12.0 points and 7.5 boards per.
Since returning from a concussion in mid-April, Jarrett Allen has been rock-solid in the middle for Cleveland.
Over that eight-game span, the fourth-year man from Texas has scored in double-figures six times – including a 15-point performance on 7-for-11 shooting on Monday – with three double-doubles in the mix. In those games, Allen is shooting 69 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the stripe, rebounding a 9.4rpg clip.
Like his counterpart on Wednesday, Allen wasn’t with the Wine & Gold when these teams squared off earlier this season, but in 10 career contests against Orlando, Allen 9.8 points and 7.2 rebounds, grabbing double-digit boards in three of those contests.