Magic Ignite Offense For Historic Game 3 Win vs. Cavs

Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic, NBA News, Cleveland Cavaliers
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic overcame an initial setback in Game 3 of their first-round NBA playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They initially missed eight straight shots, but they remained undeterred, staying true to their strategy of persistence.

About four minutes into the game, the tide began to turn when Franz Wagner sunk a 24-foot three-pointer. Momentum continued to build as Jalen Suggs and Paolo Banchero followed suit, with Suggs landing a 27-foot three and Banchero scoring close-range. Their rapid succession of shots sparked a shooting spree that lasted the entire game.

“Once one goes down, the floodgates open,” Banchero commented after the game.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

This onslaught led to Orlando’s most impressive offensive display in recent playoff history, securing a 121-83 victory. It marked their first playoff win at home in nearly 13 years. By halftime, the Magic were ahead by 16 points, their largest playoff halftime lead since 2011, and they extended their lead to a staggering 54 points by the fourth quarter.

Their 36-point victory margin ranks as the third-largest in team playoff history and signifies the Cavaliers’ worst postseason defeat.

Paolo Banchero was particularly standout, scoring 31 points with 14 rebounds, marking him as the youngest player since LeBron James in 2006 to achieve a 30-point, 10-rebound game in the playoffs. Notably, Banchero also eliminated turnovers, a significant improvement from his performance in the first two games.

“Give credit to us being home and backed by the fans,” Banchero said. “Starting your first two playoff games on the road in that environment was tough for everybody … Being home just calms you down.”

From the outset, Banchero was aggressive, emphasizing the critical nature of the game. His proactive approach was evident as he took 12 shots in the first quarter alone, more than in any other quarter of his career.

“I just knew I was going to have to stay in attack mode. The difference in being down 2-1 and 3-0 is ginormous,” Banchero said. “We knew this game was kind of do or die. I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

Coach Jamahl Mosley noted Banchero’s resilience and growth. “As soon as he stepped into his first shot and it didn’t go in, there was no hesitation to his next one,” Mosley said, praising Banchero’s consistency and mental toughness.

Suggs and Wagner also made significant contributions, with Suggs scoring 24 points and Wagner adding 16 points and 8 assists. Wendell Carter Jr., returning to the starting lineup, played a crucial role in containing Cavaliers’ Jarrett Allen, who had been dominant in rebounding in the previous games.

“We knew that was the killer in the first two games,” Banchero said. “We thought we had been playing pretty good defense, but we had been giving up way too many rebounds. We really wanted to put an emphasis on neutralizing their bigs, keeping them off the boards and I think Wendell Carter was a huge part of that.”

The team collectively emphasized rebounding and defensive pressure, which they executed flawlessly, outrebounding Cleveland 51-32.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

The Magic didn’t identify any significant strategic shifts from their games in Cleveland, maintaining confidence in their gameplay and shot selection. Returning to their home court provided the boost they needed, reaffirming their belief in their approach and their capabilities.

“There was a level of confidence they all possess knowing what was at stake and knowing what they needed to do, how they needed to fight,” Mosley reflected. This confidence, rooted in resilience and a supportive home crowd, was pivotal in transforming their fortunes and setting a commanding tone for the remainder of the series.

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