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Magic vs. Cavs GameThread

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The Magic are 1-12 vs. the Cavs since LeBron James returned home, but that sole win was this year. Can the Magic capitalize on the struggling Cavs?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It's fair to say that the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers have among the most unpredictable teams this season. When the teams first met in October, the Magic won convincingly to push the team to a 2-1 record. That 114-93 Orlando win was large enough that the Magic have still outscored the Cavs in their season series despite dropping the next two games 131-127 and 104-103.

LeBron James could turn even the worst of teams into a Finals contender in the East, but it looks like he has his work cut out for him on a Cavs team that is third-worst in the league in defensive efficiency rating at 111.7. How bad is that? The Magic are right ahead of them at 111.6 and the Cavs have made three-straight Finals appearances.

Though the names on the roster are formidable, and the roster is loaded with players that were once deemed "Magic Killers", players like Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, and Isaiah Thomas have seen better days. With the trade deadline approaching, this may be the last time that this Cavaliers team as currently constructed will see the floor together, as the reigning Eastern Conference champions have slid to third in the conference with only a half-game lead on the streaking Wizards.

Cleveland has sputtered to a 6-13 record over their last 19 games, while the Orlando is 5-14 over the same span, so this game may be a close one. Or LeBron could just shatter the Magic's hopes and dreams as he has done since losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009.

To their credit, the Cavaliers are fifth in offensive rating, and if their shooters can get hot, it's going to be a long night for the Magic. Conversely, Orlando needs to capitalize on their youth, speed, and athleticism to blow by the older and slower Cavs defenders.

Line: Cavs -6.5 (OddsShark)

Injuries:

Orlando — Aaron Gordon (Hip) – OUT; Jonathan Isaac (Ankle) – OUT; Terrence Ross (MCL) – OUT; Nikola Vucevic (Hand) – OUT; Jonathon Simmons (Ankle) – IN

Cleveland — Kevin Love (Finger) – OUT