Cavaliers take 2-0 series lead, winning physical game two 96-86   
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Sunday afternoon the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised to a 97-83 win in game one of their Eastern Conference first round matchup with the Orlando Magic. The series resumed on Monday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with the Cavs up 1-0. As the clock ran out the Cavs now had a 2-0 series lead with a convincing 96-86 win, leaving no doubt they can play physical basketball of needed.

On Saturday the Cavs never trailed and on Monday night they started the game with a three by Donovan Mitchell just :31 into the game giving the Cavs a 3-0 lead. After the Cavs forced a bad shot by the Magic Mitchell drove to the other end and was fouled, he drained both free throws to give the Cavs a 5-0 lead with 11:08 left in the opening quarter. The Magic had a chance with under 7:30 to tie the game with a three. The Cavs tightened up on defense and Orlando committed a shot clock violation giving the ball back to the Cavs who maintained a 9-6 lead. With 5:37 left the Magic tied the game for the first time in the series when Paolo Banchero hit a jumper in the paint. At the other end with 5:22 left Allen was again fouled, and he hit one of two giving the Cavs an 11-10 lead. With 5:00 left in the first quarter clock Mitchell drained a three from the top of the arc to extend the Cavs lead to 14-10. With 4:17 left Strus fouled Franz Wagner; Wagner hit one of two free throws to pull the Magic to within one at 14-13. At the other end Mitchell drove near the paint, hit a jumper and was fouled by Jalen Suggs. Suggs suffered a leg injury during the play and had to be helped off the floor after several minutes. Mitchell missed the free throw when the action continued. With 2:51 left the Cavs lead was extended to 20-13, but Orlando was not going away just :13 later Gary Harris hit a three to pull the Magic to within 20-16. With 1:25 left on the first quarter clock Caris LeVert hit Allen in the paint with a pass and Allen slammed it home sending the RMFH crowd into a frenzy and forcing Orlando to take a timeout. When the first quarter clock ran out the Cavs lead had grown to 30-18. Mitchell led all scorers with 14 points. Allen also had eight points. Mitchell also led everyone in rebounds with six. Franz Wagner scored seven first quarter points to lead the Magic. The Cavs as a team outrebounded the Magic 13-9. The Cavs outscored the Magic in the paint 10-6 and on the fast break 12-3.

With 9:52 left the Magic cut the Cavs’ lead to 33-26 when Wendell Carter, Jr. hit two free throws after being fouled by Darius Garland and that was his third foul. He left the floor for a seat on the bench and Mitchell returned after a brief rest replacing Mitchell. Orlando cut the lead to 33-28 with 9:19 left when Joe Ingles hit a jumper after a Cavs turnover on a bad pass by Evan Mobley. With 8:16 left in the half the Cavs lead was back to double digits at 38-28 when Isaac Okoro drained a three courtesy of a nice pass from Max Strus. With 7:24 left Allen fouled Mortiz Wagner hard, he hit one of two free throws cutting the Cavs lead to 41-31. The sellout crowd delighted in the miss by Wagner who is a Michigan graduated. The Cavs extended their lead to their largest margin of the first half with 6:29 on the clock when Okoro drove the paint for a layup giving Cleveland a 46-31 lead. The much-maligned Okoro has silenced his critics this season and become a contributor offensively. In the first 17:31 of the game the former number one pick had eight points, including two of two from the three point line and one steal. With 4:15 left on the second quarter clock the other Wagner brother Franz hit a three to pull the Magic to within 12 points at 48-36. Within :36 between the 3:44 mark and the 3:18 mark of the quarter the always irritable Moritz Wagner committed two fouls and was forced to take a seat on the bench with three fouls. With 1:31 left and the Cavs leading 53-42 Carter committed his third foul when he came over the back of Mobley. Mobley hit both free throws to extend the Cavs lead to 13 points. As the buzzer sounded for the halftime break the Cavs led 58-44 and the Magic were in foul trouble. Mitchell led all scorers with 19 points. The Cavs superstar also had seven rebounds and three first half assists. Franz Wagner led the Magic with 17 points. No other player on either squad had double digits points in the first 24 minutes. The Cavs continued to lead the battle of the board 23-17 and had a slight edge in scoring in the paint 16-14. The Cavs defense was stifling in the first 24 minutes. It’s almost unheard of in today’s NBA to hold a team to 44 points in a half. Orlando shot 15 of 40 (38%) from the field in the first half and turned the ball over nine times. While the Cavs shot 19 of 38 (50%).  

With 10:55 left in the third quarter the Cavs extended their lead to 63-44 on a three by Mobley. With 8:25 left Franz Wagner got charged with his fourth personal foul. Magic coach Jamhal Mosley had no choice but to leave him in the game. With 8:06 left Allen dropped in a layup giving the Cavs a 69-49 lead. With the layup Allen had 11 points and 10 boards to give him 44 double doubles including regular season and post season. One thing was apparent through nearly three quarters of game two the Magic may or may not win the series, but they will win the acting battle as they are very good at dramatizing almost any contact with a Cavs player. Suggs proved to be the best actor on the team. When he left the game in the first half, he looked like he could be crippled but came back looking like he had never been injured. No one will compare the 2023-24 to the 80’s Boston Celtics accepted for the acting and whining skills they possess. With 3:48 left Mitchell found Allen in the paint to give the Cavs a 73-55 lead. When the third quarter closed the Cavs increased their lead to 15 at 80-65. Mitchell still led all scorers even though he was held scoreless in the third period. Franz Wagner was also held scoreless but still led Orlando with 17 points through three. The Cavs owned the boards in the third out hustling the Magic 15-8 to increase their advantage to 38-25.

Once again as the fourth quarter began Moritz Wagner fouled Okoro in the face, but of course whined about it acting like he didn’t touch him, it was his fourth personal foul. Both Wagner’s had four fouls along with Carter. With 9:36 left Garland hit a three to give the Cavs an 85-65 lead and the Magic were looking like they couldn’t wait to catch the plane back to Florida. :27 later after a frustrated Franz Wanger turned the ball over on a bad pass Garland took it to the other end giving the Cavs an 87-65 lead fording an Orlando timeout. The game was over and all that needed to be determined was how much the Cavs margin of victory was going to be. With 5:11 left the Magic did cut the lead to 87-75 and then 87-78 when Banchero scored on a fast break after a Cavs turnover. On the way down the court Garland ended up in the first row on a fan. The fan was injured and had to be assisted off the floor and out the tunnel. Orlando’s Suggs showed a lot of class as he kneeled and prayed near the fan. With 3:52 left and the Cavs up 91-78 Cavs fans public enemy number one Moritz Wagner picked up his fifth foul and the crowd erupted with joy. Just :57 later the crowd gave Moritz a standing ovation after he picked up his sixth foul and left the floor to take his seat on the bench disqualified from the contest. Meanwhile the crowd began to chant “We want Tristan” referring to Cavs big man Tristan Thompson who comes off the bench and was part of the 2016 Cavs championship team. The Cavs only scored five points in the final 3:52 and hold of the Magic 96-86 as the final seconds ran off the clock a humiliated Franz Wagner stood near the baseline whining after an inadvertent elbow with :09.8 left in the game as he knew his team was down 0-2.  

Mitchell led all scorers with 23 points. Mobley had 17 points and Allen had 16 points and 20 rebounds joining Kevin Love and Brad Daugherty as the only two Cavaliers to have a 20 rebound game in the playoffs. The Cavs outrebounded Orlando 48-41 in the game. They also held Orlando to 29 of 80 (36%) shooting from the field. The Cavs also forced 17 Magic turnovers resulting in 15 Cavs points.

The Series will now shift to Orlando and the Kia Center for game three on Thursday night at 7 pm
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​POSTED 04/22/2024 22:22 
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Lake County Sentinel
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Cavaliers Jarrett Allen with a dunk .                             Photo by Tommy Shirer