The Cleveland Cavaliers began their 2024 NBA Playoffs journey with a bang on Saturday afternoon, beating the Orlando Magic 97-83 at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavs came out firing from the jump and quickly set the tone, with Donovan Mitchell leading the charge as he dropped a game-high 30 points. Following the victory, Darius Garland was fired up on his way to the locker room and sent a strong message:

Big man Jarrett Allen was also confident in the Cavs’ ability to make a title run after seeing how they played in Game 1. Via Bally Sports Cleveland:

“We know that we’re able to beat any team in this league as long as we play like this every single night.”

Cavs dominate Magic

Cleveland has been inconsistent at times this season, but they showed up ready to take care of business in the series opener. The Cavs took a 6-0 lead out of the gates in the first quarter and never let up. While Orlando did struggle immensely to shoot the basketball (33% from the field), JB Bickerstaff’s squad was solid defensively and made the Magic’s life difficult.

Outside of Mitchell balling out, the rest of the group showed up, too. Darius Garland didn’t take a lot of shots but he still put up 14 points and dished out eight assists. Evan Mobley meanwhile grabbed 11 boards and scored 16 points of his own. Allen had that same number while collecting 18 rebounds.

Although the Cavs only drained 27% of their triples, they did shoot 44% from the field and definitely won the battle on the boards, 54-40. The only knock on Cleveland would be their 17 turnovers which translated into 19 points for Orlando. Also, the Cavs, who tend to disappear in third quarters, did so again, allowing their opponents to briefly claw their way back into the game. That’s something they must improve in a hurry because against more experienced clubs, it will come back to haunt them.

Ahead of the series, Allen spoke on the “label” that the Cavs have been given as a team that lacks toughness, something they’re looking to eliminate in this current playoff run. Via Evan Dammarell:

“In the NBA, labels are placed and they’re hard to break off of,” Cleveland big man Jarrett Allen said. “That’s just how the league goes. And I don’t think we’ve earned the right to say that we’ve lost that label yet. It’s just the fact of the matter. We can go into numbers, go into how we played, but that’s just how the league sees us. So, I think this [postseason], we want to show that that’s not the true label.”

The Cavs played like a tough unit and will be looking to carry that into Game 2, which is set for Monday. This team is out for blood after last year’s humiliating exit at the hands of the New York Knicks and if they can continue to play at such a high level, a deep run could very well be in the cards. We’ll see if Cleveland can take advantage of an experienced Orlando squad again.