We’re in the money rounds, and four teams moved on last night in pursuit of a piece of the banner chain and, perhaps more importantly, a chunk of $160,000. It’s hard to say any of last night’s results could be called an upset, but that only means the tournament is set up for an explosive finish as some of the league’s best will now face off with plenty on the line.
Jazz Gaming def. Pistons GT, 2-1
Despite Pistons GT’s efforts, its surprise run in the Tipoff tournament came to an end after losing to Jazz Gaming. Detroit had regained its confidence after moving players into its team facility, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a number of miscues throughout the series.
The sloppy play started early in game one after a slow first quarter during which both teams struggled to execute offensively. But the turning point came in the 2nd quarter when the Pistons backcourt received cold rings for their poor play, allowing the Jazz to win both the 2nd and 3rd quarters by eight points and helping Utah build a lead it would never surrender.
Detroit was led by Ramo in the following game, who finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks on his way to forcing a decisive game three. But the Pistons just didn’t have the firepower to keep pace, losing the 2nd quarter by 14 points. Splashy—who averaged 32 points and 5 assists in the series—was dominant once again and was backed by Ria who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds.
Kings Guard Gaming def. Grizz Gaming, 2-0
In their second matchup this season, Kings Guard Gaming again swept Grizz Gaming to move onto the semifinals of the Tipoff. The first game of the series was not close, with Sacramento cruising to a 32-point win. Bash—drafted No. 17 overall this year by the Kings—hit 18 of his 30 shot attempts on his way to a game-high 46 points. Prior to the tournament, the Grizzlies had turned around their season after point guard Vandi regained his aggression on offense. However, the Kings’ smothering defense would ultimately force him into 16 total turnovers on the night, slowing Memphis down in the half-court.
The intensity picked up late in game two when the two teams traded chase-down blocks in a one-possession game. A Vandi and Goofy pick and roll led to a swing and open look, leaving Sacramento with just a one-point lead with 26 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, their aggression on the defensive end would lead to a pair of free throws to restore the Kings’ three-point lead. After a rinse and repeat of this same sequence, Vandi ultimately turned the ball over and dashed any hopes of the Grizzlies’ Cinderella run.
Raptors Uprising GC def. Bucks Gaming, 2-0
Headed into last night’s game, our key matchup was Regg squaring off against the best defense in the league. Unfortunately for Bucks Gaming fans, it could have gone smoother. A lot smoother. Both games were blowouts and outside of the score being 0-0 to begin each match, these were never really close battles.
The story for the Bucks was what it had been all season. Milwaukee’s team defense just isn’t there and their offense relies on Regg to be nearly perfect when matched up with elite competition. Regg wasn’t perfect last night—14 turnovers and 40% shooting over two games—and the Raptors made his team pay with a pair of blowout losses.
These Raptors sections are just getting easier to write. Kenny perfect tonight? Check. Full court press still smothering? Check. Sick One still posting ridiculous stat lines down low? Check, check and check. Toronto has been on an absolute tear since the season began and $160,000 on the line has only amplified their quality of play. Four out of five starters recorded double-digit point totals in both matchups as the team’s offense recorded 87 points per game en route to clinching a berth to the semifinals.
Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai def. Cavs Legion GC, 2-0
Nobody quite saw Cavs Legion advancing past round one—their group included both Wizards District Gaming and T-Wolves Gaming—and despite a nine-minute scoring drought, Strainer and co. moved on to the money round. On the other side, Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai had shaken off some early season rust and experienced recent success at the perfect time: headed into tourney play.
This was another series that got out of hand, and the Cavs could never turn it around. While game one wasn’t exactly close, the 14-point loss was Cleveland’s high point. Strainer scored 32 points on 14-for-18 shooting but turnovers were his Achilles heel, recording eight. These problems carried over into game two, where the Cavs turned over the ball 17 times, their sharpshooter shot 0-8, and Gen.G ran wild on their transition defense.
Gen.G is now 10-0 since moving Deadeye to center and Killey to power forward. Starting point guard ShiftyKaii seems to shuffle his archetype based on how he’s feeling each day, but Kaii has transformed his play as of late in the name of team success. The fifth overall pick averaged 32 points per game on 71% (!) shooting last night. Maybe the most impressive stat for the Tigers: three 20+-point scorers in game two (ShiftyKaii, Gen and Killey). Everything is coming up Gen.G, and now the team has a chance to win some real cash.