Playoff lights won't be too bright for Cavaliers this time, Jarrett Allen says

Apr. 19—It is safe to assume Jarrett Allen would always choose "truth" if he were ever roped into a game of Truth or Dare.

The Cavaliers' 6-foot-11 center summed up the quick demise of his team in the playoffs last year when they lost their best-of-seven series to the Knicks in five games in these words:

"I think it's experience," he said. "I think it (the playoffs) is a situation we were all looking forward to since we all got to Cleveland. We knew it was going to happen eventually. Even for me, the lights were brighter than expected."

Allen has been with the Cavaliers since being acquired in a trade with the Nets on Jan. 14, 2021. James Harden going from Houston to Brooklyn was the headliner in the three-team trade, but as it turned out the Cavs were the biggest winners because of how consistently Allen has performed, last year's disappointing showing in the playoffs notwithstanding.

The #Cavaliers energy level heading into the playoffs is high, big man Jarrett Allen says.

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) April 19, 2024

Allen and the rest of the Cavaliers, with basically the same starting unit from 2023, get a chance to atone for last year's quick exit beginning at 1 p.m. April 20 when they meet the Orlando Magic at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Game 1 of a best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

Appropriately, Allen was asked after practice April 18 whether he fears the lights will be too bright again. He even managed to have a little fun with his answer.

"After the eclipse (April 8) we kept staring into the sun, so nothing can be as bright," Allen said. "So we'll be all right."

Allen was asked if he wished he hadn't uttered the remark that has stuck to him for almost a year now. Again he answered with a laugh.

"I've said a lot worse stuff in my life, so that doesn't mean much to me," he said.

This time the Cavaliers are counting on the lights being too bright for the Magic.

The Orlando starters are guards Jalen Suggs and Gary Harris, center Wendell Carter Jr. plus forwards Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero. Harris is the only one of the group with playoff experience, and he hasn't been to the postseason since he was with the Denver Nuggets team that went to the Western Conference finals in 2020.

Nevertheless, veteran guard Donovan Mitchell warns the Cavaliers will not take Orlando lightly. The Cavs finished only one game better, 48-34 compared to 47-35. The Cavs and Magic split the four games they played in the regular season. The Magic, in fact, won the last game between the two when they beat the Cavs, 116-109, on Feb. 22 at the FieldHouse. Mitchell missed the game with a knee injury, but he said he is "100 percent" for the playoffs.

"I have a lot of respect for those guys. They're not going to make it easy," Mitchell said. "They have different things they can throw at us. Jonathan Isaac (a backup forward for the Magic) is a really good defender.

"We understand we can't turn the ball over. That's how they get their easy buckets. They're a good team that forces turnovers. That means we have to be really sharp in what we do."

The Cavaliers during all three practices leading up to Game 1 played a huge emphasis on not fouling the Orlando players. That would seem like it doesn't have to even be mentioned, but with the Magic as the opponents the emphasis is necessary.

The Magic attempted 2,002 free throws and made 1,519 of them in 2023-24. By comparison, the Cavaliers attempted 1,671 free throws and made 1,278 of them.

The free throw attempts by Orlando were the most in the league. The Los Angeles Lakers were second with 1,983 attempts.


What: Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Game 1

When: 1 p.m., April 20

Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Records: Magic 47-35, Cavaliers 48-34

TV: ESPN, Bally Sports Ohio