Cavs Dribbles: Game 2 Likely To Be Even More Telling

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles ahead of the Cavaliers’ Game 2 matchup vs. the visiting Orlando Magic in the first round of the NBA playoffs. …Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, NBA, Cleveland Cavaliers

1. Hey man, the Cavs looked good in Game 1. That was very similar to the team we saw in January, only with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley this time, too.

2. Mobley was dominant in the first half. I know for a fact the Cavs would love to see that again. What they’d like even more is for him to get more touches and get another chance to dominate in the second half. That only sort of happened in Game 1.

3. The other thing the Cavs would like to carry over is the hot, high-energy start to Game 1. They came out as if they wanted to quiet the narrative that they’re a softer team that wouldn’t be physical enough for the playoffs.

4. In short, the Cavs acted like they’d been there before. For much of the first half, the Magic looked shell-shocked. Or as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on the halftime show, Orlando looked “overmatched” and outclassed.

5. I’ve said and written it a thousand times, and I may do so a thousand more. But there’s no reason for the Cavs to lose this series. The Magic are where they were last season — a young team with a bunch of key players who are in the playoffs for the first time. The Cavs need to hammer that point home on the court, especially in games at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

6. That said, the Magic seemed to settle down and get a little confidence in the second half of Game 1. All-Star big man Paolo Banchero is an amazing talent. He can carry Orlando all by himself. Truth is, though, he doesn’t need to There’s plenty around him.

7. So the Cavs need to be cognizant of the fact Banchero and the Magic aren’t going to just roll over. They too have had to listen to what so-called experts (such as Yours Truly) keep saying — that they’re too young and maybe a little scared. So they’ll be plenty determined to shut up everybody.

8. I wrote this the other day, but the Cavs are 17-1 all-time when winning Game 1. That stat doesn’t mean much for this team, but it does go to show that in the NBA, getting an early lead counts for a lot. You set the tone, punch first, and so on and so on. But it doesn’t mean a whole lot, in my eyes, unless you get Game 2, too.

9. I’ve come this far without Donovan Mitchell, but that’s not by design. My theory is this — you win in the NBA more often than not when you have the best player on the court. That’s Mitchell. He didn’t even have a ton of help in the scoring department on Saturday. But as long as Mobley, Garland, Jarrett Allen and maybe one other player delivers in each game, this thing can end quickly.

10. I have this one being much tougher, but I do think the Cavs will emerge for a 2-0 series lead. The series then shifts to Orlando for Game 3 (Thursday). We will have a Cavs on the Break pod for you after this one. As well, of course, as some Dribbles. Talk to you then.

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