Ohio Spotlight

May 2, 2024

NBA Playoff Preview: Cavaliers @ Magic, Game 6

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves with a 3-2 series lead, one win away from advancing to the next round of the NBA Playoffs. This was almost not the case, as the Cavaliers barely snuck by the Orlando Magic 104-103 in Game 5 to give them their third win of the series. Paolo Banchero’s 39 points were not enough in Game 5 as the Cavs countered with 28 points from Donovan Mitchell and 23 from Darius Garland, along with 12 points off the bench from Marcus Morris Sr. and 13 rebounds from center Evan Mobley. As we have noted in our previous write-ups about the Cleveland Cavaliers, they are simply the deeper and more experienced team in this matchup. That’s not to take anything away from the Orlando Magic, who are one of the better young and up-and-coming teams in the NBA, but this is a matchup and a series in which Cleveland should emerge victorious. Looking at the lines on SuperBook Sports, the Cavs are +3.5 ATS and +145 underdogs on the moneyline for Game 6. 

Orlando has not been kind to the Cavaliers throughout their first-round series with the Magic, as they have lost both games on the road in blowout fashion. Orlando took Game 3 121-83 and Game 4 112-89. Orlando has been strong at home all season, posting a 29-12 record. The story of this series has been scoring. The Cavs have managed to do just enough on offense when they are at home, but that will need to translate to the road in Game 6. The Magic are not an explosive offensive team, but the Cavs rank second-to-last in point per game on average in the NBA Playoffs with 93.8. The Magic are not much better at 13th, with 101 points per game on average, but Clevelands’ struggles on the road have been apparent. Orlando boasts one of the best defensive units in the league, and that has paid off in the postseason where play slows down and buckets are more challenging to generate. 

Jason Schlefsky’s Cavs +4

The Cavaliers have had ample time to get to know their opponent throughout this series. The NBA playoffs are all about adjustments, and now we are about to see if Cleveland can do just that, and in the process, figure out a way to right their wrongs on the road. Should the Cavaliers have legitimate championship aspirations, this is a game that they should go out and figure out a way to win. It will only get tougher beyond this first-round series, and while Cavs fans should feel confident in their team should the series go to a seventh game, the focus should be closing things out Friday night and getting ready for what’s ahead. Big man Jarrett Allen missed Game 5, and his status is up in the air for Game 6. Not having Allen would make things difficult for Cleveland on the road, but it’s hard to blow teams out continuously. Let’s take the points and look for the Cavs to keep things close. 

NFL DRAFT: Browns and Bengals 

 © Phil Didion/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2024 NFL Draft came and went, and while neither of Ohio’s NFL teams made a ton of noise over the extended weekend, both seem to have assembled a solid draft class. With the Browns finishing 11-6 on the season, and the Bengals ending with a 9-8 record – largely because of an injury-riddled campaign for quarterback Joe Burrow, who only played in 10 games – there wasn’t necessarily an obvious opportunity (or need) for either team to make a major splash. Simply put, both the Bengals and Browns already have respectable rosters, neither of which had glaring holes to fill. In fact, Cleveland didn’t have a first-round pick, while Cincinnati had to wait until the 18th pick to begin their draft. Here’s a quick snapshot of what each team did, as well as how each class was evaluated by various outlets.

Bengals Complete Draft (courtesy of NFL.com)

Round 1: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia (No. 18 overall)

Round 2: Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan (49)

Round 3: Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama (80) | McKinnley Jackson, NT, Texas A&M (97)

Round 4: Erick All, TE, Iowa (115)

Round 5: Josh Newton, DB, TCU (149)

Round 6: Tanner McLachlan, TE, Arizona (194) | Cedric Johnson, DE, Mississippi (214)

Round 7: Daijahn Anthony (224), DB, Mississippi | Matt Lee, C, Miami (237)

Browns Complete Draft (courtesy of NFL.com)

Round 2: Michael Hall Jr., DT, Ohio State (No. 54 overall)

Round 3: Zak Zinter, OG, Michigan (85)

Round 5: Jamari Thrash, WR, Louisville (156)

Round 6: Nathaniel Watson, LB, Mississippi State (206)

Round 7: Myles Harden, DB, South Dakota (227) | Jowon Briggs, DT, Cincinnati (243)

Grading the Class…

By and large, both the Bengals and Browns earned “good” but not “great” marks for their selections. One of the most inexact sciences in all of sports, the NFL Draft tends to garner opinions that vary greatly. But for the most part, both teams earned grades somewhere in the “B” range. Most experts seemed to give the Bengals class a slight edge over the Browns, who had two fewer picks overall. Here’s a quick look at how a few of the major sites graded each team (click the link if you’d like to read the “why” behind the grade).


Bengals: B- 

Browns: B-         


Bengals: B

Browns: C


Bengals: B+

Browns: B+

Fox Sports

Bengals: A

Browns: C


Bengals: B+

Browns: B

All told…

At current, the Bengals hold the sixth-best odds (+1600) to win Super Bowl LIX, while the Browns bring up the middle of the NFL’s pack at +4000. Playing in the AFC North, a division in which no team had a losing record, the Draft was unlikely to make a major impact on the overall perception of each team. 

Cincinnati’s selection of OT Amarius Mims looks to be a great value considering the heavy run on quarterbacks in picks 1-through-12. Mims’ overall grade was likely higher, but he fell due to multiple teams in search of their next franchise quarterback, something the Bengals already have. If there was a one gripe from Bengals fans, it’s that some wanted to see another receiver taken sooner. They did grab Alabama’s Jermaine Burton in the third round, and it’s expected that he could step into the slot role early in the season. 

Fans tend to lose excitement when their team’s draft doesn’t start until Friday night, so it’s understandable that Browns fans are neither overly hyped nor overly critical. Realistically, Cleveland did the bulk of its roster work through free agency, whereas the draft class should provide a great deal of depth. Though the Browns were the last team to make their first pick, their selections along the offensive and defensive lines – grabbing monsters Michael Hall Jr. (DT) from Ohio State and Zak Zinter (OG) from Michigan – showed a favoritism toward big bodies who play in bigtime conferences.