Brian Windhorst snaps on Cavs, implies they’re shooting themselves in foot vs. Magic

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ESPN’s Brian Windhorst went off on the Cleveland Cavaliers for not taking advantage of the Orlando Magic’s defense in their first-round series in the playoffs this season.

The Cavs and Magic are tied at two games apiece heading into Game 5 on Tuesday night in Cleveland.

“If you double team Donovan Mitchell, you are asking to give up 3-pointers,” Windhorst said. “But you have to have 3-point shooters out there. And you have to have the alignment set up and the team prepared to take advantage of it. … I’m telling you, the Cavs have the weapons to defeat that, but they are not.”

The Cavs struggled to shoot the ball in Orlando in Games 3 and 4, going a combined 12-for-51 from beyond the arc in those matchups.

Not only that, but the Cavs bench struggled in Game 4, scoring just 15 total points while the Magic had 43 bench points, including two players in double figures.

Mitchell also needs to shoulder some of the blame — not just the shooters around him — as the All-Star guard scored just 31 points across those two games on 11-for-30 shooting from the field.

Orlando has been defending Mitchell with pesky guard Jalen Suggs, but Windhorst believes that the Cavs are missing out on a way to exploit that as well.

“When they’re not double teaming — when they’re just using screens — Jalen Suggs is a pest,” Windhorst said. “He is fighting over the top of screens. He is being very aggressive. He is playing excellent defense. When the screen comes up and Donovan is used to coming off that with space, he’s sliding in. Or, he’s booking it around the back and catching Donovan in the front. Okay, you know that they are playing that way. You can take advantage of that with who you screen. … There’s counters to that.”

Windhorst then said that Cleveland is simply “not doing the counters” to beat the Orlando defense.

The Cavs still have time to turn things around against Orlando after losing Games 3 and 4. Cleveland won both games at home to open the series and still holds home-court advantage in the best-of-seven battle.

While Mitchell has to play better than he did in Games 3 and 4, fellow guard Darius Garland has to step up as well. He’s had a hard time for much of the series, averaging 12.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the field. Garland has yet to score more than 15 points in a game this postseason.

The Cavs and Magic will face off in Game 5 at 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday night.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.