The Cleveland Cavaliers begin Year 2 of the post-LeBron James era on October 23, 2019 at the Amway Center where they take on the hometown Orlando Magic.
Kevin Love hopes to remain healthy this year after playing just 22 games last season but it won’t be easy with the persistent trade rumors. Meanwhile, the Magic look to build on the momentum of a 2018-19 season which saw them win the Southeast Division and which saw Nikola Vucevic earn his first All-Star selection. Orlando heads to their season opener as NBA betting favorites to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kevin Love Healthy
Cleveland’s first season without LeBron James was a dismal 19-63. The team finished last in the Central Division and finished 14th place in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers got the 5th pick of the draft and used it to select Darius Garland from Vanderbilt. Cleveland fired Tyronn Lue six games into last season and replaced him with Larry Drew. This summer, the Cavs signed John Beilein who last coached the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA.
The Cavaliers will be led by holdovers Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson. Colin Sexton is expected to improve in his second season as the team’s starting point guard. Meanwhile, Cedi Osman is coming off a good effort at the FIBA World Cup but the key to Cleveland’s success will be Kevin Love staying healthy. Love played only 22 games last season with a foot injury.
Cleveland ranked 29th in the NBA in scoring last season at 104.5 points per game. They were 26th off the glass with an average of 42.7 rebounds per game. In the passing department, the Cavs were ranked 29th at 20.7 assists per game. On defense, the Cavs allowed the 7th most points per game last season at 114.1.
Odds from Spinsports as of 10/20/19
Building on Success
The Orlando Magic look to build on the success of their 2018-19 season. Orlando won the Southeast Division with a record of 42-40 and they were the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference during the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Orlando’s success was bolstered by Nikola Vucevic who earned his first ever All-Star spot last season.
Vucevic 20.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game to lead the Magic last season. He looks to bounce back after posting just 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game during the first round of playoffs where they lost to the eventual champions Toronto Raptors in five games. Vucevic will have fellow starters Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, D.J. Augustin and Jonathan Isaac returning for Orlando. The Magic also have a solid sixth man in Terence Ross plus young talents Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz.
The Magic scored an average of 107.3 points per game which was 24th best in the league last season. They were 15th in rebounding at 45.5 board hauled per contest and 12th in assists at 25.5 dimes per contest. Orlando allowed their opponents to score an average of 106.6 points per game which was 6th best in the league.
Cleveland is 0-10 SU in their last 10 games played. The Cavaliers are 0-11 SU in their last 11 games played on the road. Orlando is 1-4 SU in their last five games played. The Magic are 9-2 SU in their last 11 games played at home. Head to head, Cleveland is 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played. The Cavaliers are also 9-3 SU in their last 12 road games against the Magic.
Since LeBron James left Cleveland for the second ( and final ) time, the Cavaliers have been in disarray. Cleveland signed Kevin Love to a 4-year $120M extension in June 2018 but a year later, Love is rumored to be on the trading block. The Cavs drafted Darius Garland but didn’t do much in the free agent market. Veterans John Henson, Brandon Knight, and Cedi Osman may not be enough to help a team that is led by Love, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson.
The Orlando Magic made the playoffs last season and they have kept the core of their successful lineup. Nikola Vucevic is coming off an All-Star year and he leads Orlando’s returning starting five. Terence Ross is a Sixth Man of the Year candidate off the bench while Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz provide them the depth.
The Cavs look like they are on a rebuild mode while the Magic look to build on last season’s success. I think Orlando has the better quality and they also possess the chemistry to beat a struggling franchise. I’m picking the Orlando Magic to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on 10/23/19.
Prediction: Orlando Magic
Spread Odds Betting
The Cavaliers are 1-5 ATS in their last six games played. Cleveland is 1-4 ATS in their last five games played against teams from the Atlantic Division. The Magic are 12-6 ATS in their last 18 games played, 2-4 ATS in their last six games played in October and 4-1 ATS in their last five Wednesday games played. Head to head, the Magic are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games played including 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
Odds from Spinsports as of 10/20/19
The Magic have outscored the Cavs by an average of 1.3 points per game in their last 10 meetings and 5.67 points per game in their last three meetings. Orlando also outscored Cleveland by a total of 17 points in their three meetings last season, the Cavaliers’ first year without LeBron James. This year, the Cavs will look to a healthy Kevin Love to lead them. But with a new coach and a new system, they will struggle to jell early on and especially against an Orlando team which looks the same from last season’s playoff team.
Prediction: Magic -7.5