Cavs will try again to change their fortunes on the road
The Cleveland Cavaliers have managed to string together some victories at home recently. It remains to be seen if they can carry their play over to the road, where they’ve struggled all season.
They seek just their second road victory on Friday night against the Orlando Magic, who suddenly find themselves much healthier.
Cleveland (8-13) won for the fourth time in five games Tuesday, 109-94 over the struggling New York Knicks. Kyrie Irving scored 37 points – including 12 in a third quarter in which the Cavaliers outscored the Knicks 33-20 – and added 12 assists. All four of those victories have come in Cleveland, where they’re 7-3 compared to the NBA’s worst road record of 1-10.
Away from home, opponents are shooting 47.2 percent compared to 42.1 percent in Cleveland. The disparity in 3-point shooting is even larger with 40.6 percent on the road and 30.7 percent at home. Cleveland has allowed at least 103 points in five of its last six road games.
The Cavaliers have also struggled recently in Orlando, dropping nine of their last 11 there.
“We need to play with more intensity (on the road),” coach Mike Brown told the team’s website. “We need to understand that shots aren’t always going to go in. And we have to accept that, which is hard for a young team. We have to accept that that’s the reality of playing on the road in this business and we really have to hang our hat on our identity which is on the defensive end of the floor.”
The Magic (7-15) started their six-game trip 0-5 before winning 92-83 in Charlotte on Wednesday. Nikola Vucevic tallied 12 points and 14 rebounds after missing four games with a sprained left ankle. He helped Orlando claim a 52-41 rebounding edge after the team had been outrebounded by an average of 17.5 per game without him.
“We needed this one. We needed it bad,” said Glen Davis, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds and also missed Orlando’s first 11 games due to a foot injury.
“We are a good team. We just all got to be healthy, you know what I mean? Look at what Nik did out there today. We’ve been missing that. It’s been tough for us in the paint. He loosens everything up for me, most definitely. Him being a factor out there, people have to guard him and also he’s going to get rebounds and help us with fast-break points.”
Orlando may be even stronger Friday with the potential return of Tobias Harris. The team is hopeful he can play after missing all but one game due to a sprained left ankle. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds over 27 games for the Magic after being acquired from Milwaukee on Feb. 21.
“If it (ankle) reacts well after today’s practice, then I think it will be OK to say that I will be out there in the game tomorrow,” he told the team’s website.
Irving is shooting 37.7 percent in his last five games against the Magic, though he’s averaging 9.0 assists in the last three.
Arron Afflalo is averaging 19.2 points and shooting 56.8 percent from the floor over his last six versus Cleveland.