The Cleveland Cavaliers look for a back-to-back sweep on Thursday, playing the second of consecutive road contests at Orlando
Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland (50-30) to a 117-113 win in Orlando on Tuesday, scoring 43 points. It was Mitchell's fourth straight game of 40-plus points and 13th overall.
Mitchell went for 12 points in the final 7:11 while Caris LeVert -- who scored 19 points off the bench -- hit a pivotal 3-pointer midway through the fourth period that stopped a 10-0 Magic run
The outcome secured Cleveland's first 50-win regular season since the 2017-18 campaign.
"Winning 50 games in the NBA is not easy," Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "The NBA season is long, it's grueling, it's difficult, it's emotional. But being able to have a group of guys that commit themselves to the team, no matter the circumstances, the selflessness with all the other things that they have going on in the world, for them to sacrifice and move those things to the side, and just continue to focus on the team and do whatever it takes to continue to build a team.
Mitchell's addition was key to the building project, and he has delivered with a career-best average of 28.3 points per game heading into the final two games of the regular season. Darius Garland, an All-Star a year ago, is right around his 2021-22 scoring output of 21.7 points per game, averaging 21.6 this season.
Second-year big man Evan Mobley also saw increases of 15 to 16.3 points per game, and 8.3 to 9.1 rebounds a contest.
With wins in its final two games, Cleveland can reach its best regular-season mark since the 2015-16 campaign.
Beating Orlando for a second straight game may prove a tall order; the Magic (34-45) gave the Cavaliers all they could handle in Tuesday's contest, which featured 11 lead changes and neither team leading by more than nine points
Orlando took a fourth-quarter lead on the strength of its 10-0 run but could not hold Cleveland off down the stretch.
Tuesday's loss was just the Magic's second over their last seven games. The young Orlando squad is eliminated from play-in contention, but coach Jamahl Mosley said not to expect a letdown from the Magic over their final three outings
"We've competed all year," he said. "I think that's what these guys are going to continue to do, no matter the circumstances. I'm proud of these guys for how they battled. That's the fourth seed in the East, and we held our own."
Cleveland assured itself the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and home-court advantage in the opening round.
As for Orlando, the Magic's push to end the season strong includes Paolo Banchero's final statement for Rookie of the Year
Banchero, who is averaging 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, recorded a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double on Tuesday. Orlando also got 15 points off the bench from Cole Anthony, who has a streak of 12 consecutive games scoring in double figures headed into Thursday's matchup.
--Field Level Media