Magic-Cavaliers Preview

BY foxsports • January 2, 2016

The Orlando Magic feel like they were bullied on the court last time out and now they'll face a team that has buried them twice.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have won 12 straight over the Magic, including two lopsided victories this season, and will have Kyrie Irving for Saturday night's matchup.

Orlando (19-14) opened a three-game trip with Friday's 103-91 loss at Washington, dropping its 11th straight in that series. The Magic felt they weren't physical enough after they were outrebounded 46-39.

"Teams are going to try and punk us," guard Victor Oladipo said. "They're going try to be physical, they're going to try to push us around, bully us. We can't let that happen."

Now they must regroup versus Cleveland, which has the two best shooting performances allowed by Orlando this season. The Cavaliers shot 53.1 percent and got a season-high 34 points from Kevin Love in a 117-103 win Nov. 23 before connecting at a season-high 56.9 percent clip with LeBron James scoring a game-high 25 in a 111-76 rout Dec. 11.

The other key to those victories appear to be halftime adjustments considering Orlando has been outscored 63-36 in the third quarter of those games.

Those Cavaliers wins came without Irving, who is shooting 34.0 percent in four games since returning. He scored 22 in his last one, a 101-97 win at Phoenix on Monday.

Irving sat out twice on that 2-2 trip, missing Tuesday's 93-87 victory over Denver. Cleveland (21-9) is being cautious with the guard as he works his way back from knee surgery.

"I don't see him going out there and playing 40 minutes anytime soon but we've moved along pretty well, we've been very specific and very committed to a certain path in terms of bringing him back and I think we're at a point where he's back more or less," coach David Blatt said.

James' teams have won 13 straight over Orlando in addition to Cleveland's streak in the series. This is his first game since turning 31 on Wednesday.

"I don't feel any different than 30," he said. "I feel a lot different than 18 though."

James had 34 points on 54.2 percent shooting against the Nuggets after struggling to average 17.0 points and shoot 36.7 percent in the first three games of the trip.

"That was a very tough trip, the West coast trip with four games in five nights and two back-to-backs," Blatt said.

The Magic have made strides in winning seven of 10 games since they last faced the Cavs. That improvement wasn't evident Friday when they were outscored 24-14 on the fast break.

''They were sprinting. We were jogging,'' Skiles said.

Oladipo scored 20 off the bench while Orlando's starters combined for 45 points.

The Magic have dropped three of five when playing the second game of a back-to-back.

"We've got a big game tomorrow, a huge game for us tomorrow," Oladipo said. "It's going to be a tough environment, a tough team to play but we gotta find a way to win."

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