Magic know Game 6 win isn’t guaranteed at home vs. Cavs: ‘You have to go take it’

As the saying goes, a playoff series doesn’t start until someone loses on their home court.

In the case of the Magic, if Orlando falls at Kia Center on Friday night against the Cavs in Game 6, the series ends.

And so would the 2023-24 season for Jamahl Mosley’s squad, which trails Cleveland 3-2 after dropping Game 5 by 1-point on the road Tuesday.

Both sides have protected homecourt so far and it wasn’t until earlier this week at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse that a contest had been decided by single-digits.

But just because the Magic won Games 3 and 4 at home, they’re not guaranteed to win Friday.

“You have to go take it,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after practice Thursday at the Advent Health Training Center.

For majority of the Magic (all but four players), Game 6 will be their first time facing elimination in the playoffs. Despite the added pressure that comes with that, Orlando guard Jalen Suggs isn’t changing his approach entering Friday.

“I’m going about it the same way that I’ve gone about the rest of these games,” he said. “Continuing to have good confidence, good joy, a comfortability going into these games understanding that the work has been done. Everything — all of the preparation, the workouts, training, going through the learning moments — all of that has happened already.

“Now it’s just enjoying this moment and being fully present here. That’s where my mind is at. [I am] ready to play, ready to be back home in front of the fans and ready to go play a game Sunday in Cleveland.”

Should Orlando avoid elimination and tie the series up at 3-3, Game 7 would take place Sunday at 1 p.m. inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. It will be televised exclusively on ABC.

Tip-off time, TV network set for Magic’s home Game 6 Friday vs. Cleveland

Before then, however, the Cavs and Magic could each be without a starter for Game 6.

For Orlando, Gary Harris was not a full participant at Magic practice Thursday and is considered a game-time decision, Mosley said.

The veteran guard, who started the first five games of the series for Orlando, only went through a walkthrough portion of practice after missing the fourth quarter of Game 5 due to a right hamstring strain.

For Cleveland, center Jarrett Allen did not practice at all Thursday after not playing in Game 5 due to a right rib contusion suffered in Game 4. He will be traveling with the team to Orlando and is expected to “give it a go if he can,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters.

Allen and Harris are both listed as questionable for Friday’s contest.

Bickerstaff moved Evan Mobley to center and stared Isaac Okoro in place of Allen to open Game 4.

“Not having Jarrett — It’s a different game plan,” Mosley said when asked how Allen’s absence changes things for the Cavs. “They go smaller, play a lot faster and they’re hunting a lot more 3s. There was a conscious effort to do that.

“Our ability to make sure that we’re getting back in transition, defending the 3-point line, but also finishing out possessions so they’re not able to get those offensive rebounds for the kick-out 3s, [is important.]”

Harris averaged 3.8 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.20 steals in 26.3 minutes during his five starts. He missed 28 games during the regular season because of injury, including 16 (Dec. 27-29, Jan. 5-31) with a right calf strain. Earlier in the year, he missed five games (Nov. 4-14) with a right straight groin.

He also dealt with a plantar fascia strain in his right foot that forced him to miss four games between recovery and injury maintenance in late March and early April.

The Magic closed Game 5 with Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter Jr. on the floor together but Mosley has other options to replace Harris in the starting lineup if the veteran guard can’t play.

Second-year pro Caleb Houstan made two starts (March 30 and April 10) in the final two weeks of the regular season in place of Harris. There’s also rookie Anthony Black, who started 33 games but mostly did so in place of guard Markelle Fultz.

Of the two, Houstan has played more significant minutes in the series.

Whether or not Harris is available for Orlando, the Magic will have to find a way to force a Game 7 and extend their season.

“We’re all hopeful,” guard Cole Anthony said. “This team is beatable. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”

Jason Beede can be reached at

If you go …

Magic vs. Cavs, Game 6

When: Friday at Kia Center, 7

How to watch: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN