Cleveland Cavaliers' Jarrett Allen (31) blocks a shot attempt by Orlando Magic's Markelle Fultz (20) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Magic Seek Revenge in Second Straight Game Against the Cavs

The Orlando Magic is 13th in the Eastern conference, but every team wants to end the season on a high note. On Tuesday, they lost a tightly contested game at home to Cleveland, 117-113, and were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Thursday night, they seek revenge against the same team.

Tuesday’s Game

It’s always more difficult to swallow when a team plays a clean game and still loses.

The Magic had two different players drop point-rebound double-doubles: Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter, Jr.

Markelle Fultz had 23 on 65% shooting and eight assists.

The Magic did not beat themselves.

Cleveland’s guards were just too good — a story NBA fans have seen many times this season. Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert combined for 62 points and 10 threes on 67% shooting. Darius Garland had a points-assists double-double. When a backcourt plays thoroughly complementary basketball, the team becomes nearly unbeatable.

The Greats Have a Short Memory

A loss like that, playing as well as the Magic did, can be discouraging. They played good ball, and they were rewarded by being knocked out of the playoffs.

With the Magic’s young, relatively inexperienced core, this will be an interesting test. It would be very easy for the boys in blue to roll over, show their bellies and allow the Cavs to climb the Eastern conference rankings. However, a winning team mentality would dictate that they take the loss personally and look to split the two-game set. They would see the narrow loss as evidence that Cleveland is beatable.

Give ‘Em Time

If someone is still an Orlando Magic fan, they have shown incredible patience. The team has won two total playoff games in the past 11 seasons. Their aggregate winning percentage from 2014-2023 has been just over 36%.

They have been very bad for a long time.

However, 20-year-old power forward Paolo Banchero is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. 2021 No. 5 overall pick Jalen Suggs still has a lot to learn. Versatile center Wendell Carter, Jr. is only 23 years old. Shooting guard Markelle Fultz is getting back into an offensive groove at 24.

Entering the 2023 season, Orlando was the second-youngest team in the league. They may have missed the playoffs, but Magic fans have a lot to look forward to.

About Steven Hieneman

Senior Sports Media/Business Administration dual major at the University of Florida, ESPN Gainesville WRUF sports correspondent.

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