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May 4, 2024 12:34 pm

Cavs, Magic set for decisive Game 7 in Cleveland

banchero mitchell

The Cleveland Cavaliers recorded 48 wins during the regular season, one more than the Orlando Magic.

As a result, the Cavaliers were able to lock up the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference — and more importantly, home-court advantage for their first-round series with the Magic.

Home cooking has proven beneficial for the hosts, as each team has won all three contests on its home floor heading into Game 7 on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland.

Orlando held serve Friday night to set up its first Game 7 since the 2009 playoffs. Paolo Banchero scored 27 points and Franz Wagner added 26 as the fifth-seeded Magic overcame a 50-point performance from Donovan Mitchell in a 103-96 victory over the Cavaliers.

“I’m excited. It’s a do-or-die situation, so we’ll have to put together another special effort,” Banchero said of playing in Game 7.

Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley wants his charges to embrace the moment.

“This is the moment that you play for. It’s why you do it. You do it for these moments,” he said. “So being on the road, Game 7, the ability to come together to continue to grow in each game. I think that’s what this group is looking forward to.

“It’s not going to be easy, nor do we want it to be easy. The harder it is, the better we will be.”

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff, however, contends that his team will be ready for the winner-take-all game. After all, the Cavaliers have won eight of their past nine encounters against the Magic in Cleveland.

“Our guys will be ready for the moment,” Bickerstaff said. “Our guys have been really good at home. We don’t expect that to change.”

Mitchell scored all 18 of his team’s points in the fourth quarter on 7-of-13 shooting. He made 22 of 36 shots from the floor for the game despite playing through a knee injury.

“We did a great job of staying together and we were all locked in, but ultimately we didn’t end up with the victory, so we just have to go home and take care of business,” Mitchell said.

The Cavaliers’ bid to move to the conference semifinals could be hampered by injuries, however. In addition to Mitchell’s issues, Evan Mobley appeared to turn his ankle in the second quarter on Friday.

All-Star center Jarrett Allen sat out his second consecutive contest due to a rib contusion. He averaged 17.0 points and 13.8 rebounds in the first four games of the series.

“It’s about his safety,” Bickerstaff said of Allen. “When you have an injury to your core, your ability to change directions, get out of the way, move freely, and play in the trenches like he does. So we’ll always look out for Jarrett.”

Orlando has its own injury to address, as starting shooting guard Gary Harris sat out Friday after sustaining a right hamstring injury in Game 5.

“Gary was close again, and he’ll come in (Saturday), get a little bit of treatment, and we’ll re-evaluate him after that,” Mosley said.

–Field Level Media

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