The first four games of the NBA Playoffs series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic were fairly straightforward wins for the home team. But the last two contests have been chock-full of drama, clutch plays, historic showings and gritty defense. To put it simpler, there is a strong element of unpredictability at work in the final stages of this opening round showdown. The best way for the Cavs to combat the chaos is with one of their most reliable players.

Cleveland is sorely missing the 17 points and 13.8 rebounds Jarrett Allen is averaging in four games against Orlando this postseason. His rib injury, which sidelined him for the last two matchups, could genuinely be the X-factor in Sunday afternoon’s Game 7. Fans are desperate for a shred of optimistic news regarding Allen’s playing status.

Luckily, they are getting just that following the latest update. The Cavs are listing the former All-Star center as questionable with a rib contusion, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. It might not seem like much, but the fact that Allen has at least a chance of suiting up in front of a packed Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is a welcome sign.

The only thing really missing from this series is a heroic return at the very end.

Jarrett Allen could lift the Cavs over the top in Game 7

There are many instances in sports when an athlete pushes through the pain in an attempt to help their squad extend its playoff life. Some etch their name in the history books, and others prove to be a liability.

The most famous example of an NBA big man triumphantly returning from injury is Willis Reed, of course, the late-great New York Knicks legend who thrived in the same era that Allen’s Afro hairstyle first became popular. Could Believeland witness a classic comeback of its own in Game 7?

If anyone can pull it off in the modern era, an old-school center who has overcome plenty of adversity and skepticism seems like a fine choice.

Jarrett Allen played a key role in helping the Brooklyn Nets finally emerge from the black hole that devoured them after their infamous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics. He then absorbed a big blow to his morale upon being sent to the Cavaliers in a three-team deal to acquire James Harden. The former Texas Longhorns star quickly made the best of his new situation and began to realize his full potential in Cleveland.

Jarrett Allen is becoming the leader this team needs

Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (31) dunks in the third quarter against the Orlando Magic during game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

With Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley all missing big stretches of time this past regular season, Allen acted as the Cavs’ linchpin. Many considered his stalwart contributions (16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 77 games) to be worthy of a second-career All-Star selection. The largest obstacle the 26-year-old had to overcome this year, though, is probably his 2023 postseason struggles.

The Knicks completely neutralized him in the NBA Playoffs, with many pinpointing him as the player most responsible for the Cavaliers’ elimination. He is exorcising those demons in the 2024 proceedings, giving the Magic fits inside. But rest assured, Jarrett Allen wants to finish the job.

Cleveland waits with bated breath for more updates. Game 7 tips off on Sunday at approximately 1 p.m. ET.