Orlando Magic Unable to Get Into Rhythm in Game 1 Loss to Cleveland Cavaliers

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

Just past the halfway point of the third quarter, Paolo Banchero drilled a 3-pointer that capped a 12-4 Magic run and cut the Cavs’ lead to four.

The hope, from there, was that Orlando’s defense, which was superb in those first six-plus minutes of that period, would continue to irritate Cleveland and its offense would start to blast off. 

Neither happened in the latter half of the third. The Cavs ended that frame on a 16-5 run, which gave them enough of a cushion to hand the Magic a 97-83 Game 1 loss on Saturday in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

An issue in many of their losses this season, the Magic struggled mightily from 3-point range, going 8-for-37 (21.6 percent). It was the third time in their franchise history that they shot under 25 percent from downtown with 30-plus attempts in a playoff game.

“Cleveland does a great job of packing the paint in, and they do a great job of flying at shots,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “But a big portion of this is us continuing to be willing to step into those shots with confidence, which our team will continue to do and that’s the work that we’ve put in and will continue to put in.” 

Another glaring problem was free throw shooting. Although they got to the line plenty – 30 attempts – they missed 11 of them. 

In their NBA postseason debuts, Banchero posted 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Franz Wagner tallied 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Banchero did have nine of Orlando’s 12 turnovers, however, tied for the second most by a Magic player in a postseason game all time. Darrell Armstrong also had nine on May 13, 1999 against Philadelphia. Penny Hardaway holds that record with 10 turnovers on May 2, 1994 against Indiana. 

“I think there were a couple possessions where we were stagnant. That kind of leads to tough shots,” Wagner said. “But I think for the most part, I think we tried to make the right play.” 

Holding the Cavs to just 97 points and 26.7 percent 3-point shooting were positives for the Magic. During the regular season, Orlando limited opponents to under 100 points 23 times, tied with Minnesota and New York for the most times in the league.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with 30 points, while Evan Mobley and Jarrett Mobley each had 16 points. Allen also pulled down 18 rebounds, while Mobley blocked three shots.

Just as he did in the Magic’s regular season finale against Milwaukee, Jonathan Isaac started at center. The 6-foot-10, 230-pounder, part of the same 2017 draft class as Mitchell and Allen, finished with 10 points, five rebounds, three blocks and three steals. 

Normally, the Magic get a ton of production from their bench. That wasn’t the case in Game 1, however, as they accumulated just 18 points. Moe Wagner led the second unit with 10 points and five rebounds.

Game 2 of this series will take place Monday in Cleveland at 7 p.m.

“I love the physicality. I love the intensity that both sides showed (in Game 1),” Banchero said. “I’m excited for Monday.”  

Game 1: Jamahl Mosley

Game 1: Franz Wagner

Game 1: Paolo Banchero