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Poor shooting plagues Magic in Game 1 loss at Cavaliers

CLEVELAND — Before the Magic and the Cavaliers took the floor inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for Game 1 of the best-of-7 series between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in the East, both coaches stressed the importance of starting strong.

First it was Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who said ahead of tipoff that he wanted Orlando to chase all afternoon long.

Then it was Magic coach Jamahl Mosley, who made it clear he wanted his squad to throw the first punch.

If Orlando wants to avoid returning home trailing the series 2-0, it can’t fall behind the same way it did to open Saturday’s 97-83 loss.

“Our initial start was a big portion of it,” Mosley said after the game. “We were able to fight back but when you go 19-for-30 from the free throw line and 8-for-37 from 3, it’s hard to make up ground.”

Bickerstaff’s wish came true as the Cavaliers hit their first five 3-pointers to hold a double-digit lead in the opening quarter. Even as Cleveland cooled off from beyond the arc, the Magic lacked offensive firepower, especially in the backcourt.

Guards Jalen Suggs (13 points) and Gary Harris (0) went a combined 1-of-12 from beyond the arc while Orlando overall shot 21.6% on 3-pointers.

Even Paolo Banchero, who led Orlando with 24 points in his first playoff appearance, shot 2-of-7 from 3 and struggled to take care of the ball with 9 turnovers.

“I could have done a lot of things better,” the Magic forward said. “I was loose with the ball. I was just super anxious, super excited so a couple of moves I tried to make I lost [the ball], a couple of passes got stolen. That’s stuff I’ve got to clean up on. I had 9 of our 12 turnovers. So, I don’t plan on doing that ever again.

“But I thought I did OK. I thought I was aggressive and got to the rim. I got fouled but I’ve just got to make free throws. [I] could have been much better, though.”

Banchero finished 4-of-8 from the charity stripe. In a 14-point loss, the Magic missed 11 free throws in a hostile environment on the road.

Cleveland wasn’t much better than Orlando at 8-of-30 (26.7%) from 3-point range, but the sharpshooting from the jump resulted in the Magic chasing — just as Bickerstaff wanted.

Despite a third-quarter push in which the Magic cut the deficit to 4 points twice, the Cavaliers never let go of the lead.

But not all is lost.

The Magic only have to split in the first two road games of the series to flip homecourt advantage.

“We shot 32% from the field, 21% from 3 and 60% from the line and it still wasn’t ever over until the last two minutes,” Banchero said when asked if he feels optimistic about Game 2 and the rest of the series against the Cavaliers. “[As] I said, we defended very well. Offensively, we didn’t play well.

“So we’ve just got to get our offense up with our defense and we’ll be good.”

The sides meet again in Cleveland on Monday (Bally Sports Florida, 7) as Orlando will aim to shoot the ball better and tie the first-round series.

“Cleveland did their job,” Mosley said. “It doesn’t become a series until the home team loses. We just have to make sure we stay the course and play the right way.”

Jason Beede can be reached at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com

If you go …

Magic at Cavaliers, Game 2

When: Monday, 7

TV: Bally Sports Florida/NBA TV