HomeBasketball TodayCavs' Dynamic Duo Ready to Shut Down Magic's Paolo Banchero!

Cavs’ Dynamic Duo Ready to Shut Down Magic’s Paolo Banchero!

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The Cavs have the right weapons to combat Paolo Banchero.

When thinking about how the Cleveland Cavaliers will take care of business against the Orlando Magic in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, it starts and ends with Orlando forward Paolo Banchero.

To be frank, the Magic aren’t good on offense. They rank in the bottom third of the NBA and average 112.9 points per 100 possessions on the year. Orlando leans heavily on Banchero to do everything on offense and it’s why the former Rookie of the Year leads the Magic in usage, having the ball in his hands 29.2% of the time.

“He seems to be extremely poised. He knows his game,” Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Banchero. “You’ve got to make it difficult. You can’t allow him to get to his spots. He’s a little bit different because he loves those mid-range shots, but you’ve got to make sure that they’re contested. Make him earn everything. They do a great job of getting to the free-throw line. He does a great job with his pump fakes and getting people off the ground. So, have to be extremely disciplined and make him have to earn everything over the top.”

Due to that usage rate and control, Banchero will get his numbers; that’s just the nature of how gifted a scorer he is. But, that doesn’t mean the Cavs are going to open a runway to let Banchero do whatever he wants. Instead, they’re going to make him work for every shot and they could have the perfect player to defend Banchero all series long.

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Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen can cook up a spicy-a meatball for Paolo Banchero

Dec 6, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) during the first half at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Again, with how gifted and poised Banchero is as a scoring threat, Cleveland cannot completely shut down his offensive game. But, with Evan Mobley available and at full strength, they can make Banchero’s life incredibly difficult while he dominates nearly every offensive possession for Orlando — especially with Allen there to support Mobley.

While Banchero went 5-7 from the floor when defended by Mobley in the regular season, there’s a very clear, albeit sound strategy the Cavs can deploy when the ball is in Banchero’s hands. It encourages him to try and take down Cleveland on his own offensively against Mobley in isolation.

There have been times this season that Banchero insisted he could drive to the basket to his left, but the tape shows that even when he’s set up on the left side of the floor, he’s going to his right hand.

But even when Banchero attacks with his right hand off the right side, he’s still limited due to Orlando’s lack of spacing. The Cavs can exploit this by utilizing Mobley, one of their best isolation defenders, to force Banchero toward the paint, where Allen is always there in support to wall Banchero off.

The one-two punch of Mobley and Allen can be even more lethal if Banchero is attacking from the corner. Allen acts as a help defender to force Banchero to pull up his dribble and likely waste an offensive possession on an inefficient shot. All season long, opposing teams have used this strategy against Banchero and the Magic, and the results are a lot of pull-up mid-range shots, deflected pass attempts, contested shots, and turnovers that come with playing in traffic.

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While it’s only one way Cleveland can shut down Banchero and Orlando’s offensive attack, having Mobley and Allen available to harass Banchero makes the series a bit more winnable. Granted, there’s still the elephant named Franz Wagner in the room to deal with as well. But, cutting one head off the snake in Banchero is a great place to start, Wagner or not.

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