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Watching the Market: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Orlando Magic Game 7

The Cleveland Cavaliers erased an 18-point deficit to defeat the Orlando Magic 106-94 and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Their reward for pulling off a win and completing the greatest comeback in playoff game seven history: the mighty Boston Celtics. But that matchup, for now, doesn’t matter. The Cavs did what they wanted to do this season: advance to the first round of the playoffs.

This is what the market looks like in the second round of the play-offs.

Stock: Donovan Mitchell is a superstar

What else can you say about Donovan Mitchell? He scored 44% of Cleveland’s points in Games 6 and 7, clearly weakened by a troublesome knee. He stayed the course and attacked the Rim against a fearsome Magic defense. But more importantly, he didn’t lose faith in his teammates. In the fourth quarter, after Darius Garland missed three, Mitchell immediately gave him the ball back to shoot another.

It went in, leading to an iconic hug on the field.

Mitchell had 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 45 minutes of action. It’s the kind of game where you remember where you were when it happened. Mitchell also has a playoff monkey on his back, but today he was more than just the best player on the floor: he was also the leader the Cavs needed.

Stocked by: Evan Mobley

Say what you will about Mobley not being the offensive player people expected in year three, but he is one of the best defenders in the entire league. He has 10 blocks in two games and grabbed 16 rebounds tonight against a very tall Orlando team. Oh, and he was tasked with defending Paolo Banchero for seven games without Jarrett Allen for the final three. Not an easy task, as the Cavs just found out.

Mobley is an unfinished product, but so is he currently an elite defender. The Celtics will be without Kristaps Porzingis for part of the series against Cleveland, but Mobley’s defense will be key to keeping Boston in check — at least a little.

Stock Down: Georges Niang, unplayable

In just three minutes of playing time, Georges Niang scored a -9. As in, the Cavs gave up nine points and scored none in the three minutes he was on the court.

That’s not all Niang’s fault, but Orlando put him in the pick-and-roll and ate him for lunch. If his shot doesn’t fall, Niang is almost unplayable. In the seven games against the Magic, Niang was 2-15 (13.3%) from three-point territory. That’s just not going to work.

What makes matters worse for the Cavs is that they will likely need Niang’s shooting in the next series against the Celtics. Boston gets a lot of threes (they made 75 in five games against Miami, compared to the Cavs’ 50 made threes in seven games), and Cleveland will need that stretch to keep defenses honest.

Stock on: Caris LeVert, playable

Very quietly, Caris LeVert was stapled to the bench in Game 6 with just seven minutes of playing time. He wasn’t good in those few minutes, but he’s crucial to Cleveland’s success and came up big in Game 7 with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists on efficient 55.6% shooting. LeVert also made a good pass out of double coverage and found Max Strus late in the fourth quarter for a nearly game-ending dunk.

To put it bluntly, the Cavs are going to need the good version of LeVert if they want to have any chance of beating Boston. His ability to warm up quickly and get into a rhythm, handle the basketball and create his own shot will be incredibly necessary. The Cavs’ offense was mostly terrible against the Magic, and they barely squeaked by. It will have to be much, much better against the Celtics and LeVert has a significant influence on that.

Holding: Darius Garland continues to confuse

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Garland was awful in the first three quarters and a big reason why the Cavs trailed by 10 at halftime.

But he turned it around in the fourth quarter. Garland scored 10 of his 12 points in the final frame, along with three assists, a steal, and didn’t turn the ball over. It was a significant improvement for him and hopefully a step in the right direction in terms of confidence. Clearly he fell short in that area. Hitting the three-pointer in the corner, which led to the hug with Mitchell, was desperately needed. Perhaps this is what gets Garland going, as his ability to play well will almost certainly be the difference in a Cavs win or loss against the vaunted Celtics.