We had five series last night, as ten teams attempted to advance to the second round of the play-in Ticket Tournament. The winners kept their postseason aspirations alive while the losers saw their season end in just a few hours. With their seasons on the line Magic Gaming, Grizz Gaming, Knicks Gaming, Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai, and Celtics Crossover Gaming (eventually) all took care of business.
Day 1 of THE TICKET Powered by @ATT is in the books! Shoutout to @MagicGaming, @GrizzGaming, @KnicksGaming, @GenGTigersSH and @CLTXGaming for advancing! We’re back tomorrow at 5 pm/et for Day 2! pic.twitter.com/Uiq8Y4gDeo
Grizz Gaming vs. Knicks Gaming
Last night Grizz Gaming enjoyed a measure of revenge, ending Lakers Gaming’s season after LA bounced the Grizz from the Turn. Grizz Gaming started off slowly, but their defense sparked a second-half run, leading to the game one win. By the final buzzer of game two, Goofy had has many flops as points and rebounds (17 points, 16 rebounds per game) and Memphis rolled, winning by a near-30 point margin (85-56).
Meanwhile, Knicks Gaming survived the opening round after dropping game one against Pistons GT. After struggling with his shot in the first contest, Malik caught fire from range, shooting 9-for-12 on three-point attempts over the final two games. His game three performance included 27 points, repeatedly scoring when New York needed buckets.
Both sides are coming motivated for this one and the playoffs have nothing to do with most of it. Goofy experienced plenty of success in a Knicks Gaming uniform, including winning the 2018 Ticket en route to becoming the NBA 2K League’s first-ever championship team. He was then benched for the 2019 Ticket, where the Knicks went on another impressive run—keyed by clutch shooting from Malik—that ended in the semifinals. After leading the league in rebounds (14.9 per game in 2019), Knicks Gaming traded away their superstar center for a haul of draft selections. A year later, these two teams are in identical situations on opposite sides.
Key Matchup: Memphis Containing Malik
AuthenticAfrican and Goofy will have the task of guarding Knicks Gaming’s rookie point guard Duck in the pick-and-roll. The remaining defenders need to stay disciplined in their rotations in order to contain Malik off-ball. Knicks Gaming will draw up play after play to get their sharpshooter going and it’s only a matter of time before Malik’s release is nothing but greens. Memphis needs to avoid that or their season ends tonight.
Magic Gaming vs. Hawks Talon GC
Magic Gaming looked good last night. Orlando easily had the cleanest night of the opening round, sweeping Pacers Gaming with a pair of blowouts. Reizey, 2019’s top rookie, put on a show all night, pouring in 74 points and 20 assists over the course of the two-game series. Both frontcourt members (May and DT) notched game one double-doubles while Profusion looked like his old self with 22 points on 6/9 shooting from deep.
From there, momentum was all Orlando’s and it carried over heavily for their star duo. Reizey (42 points, 10 assists) and DT (28 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks) shined in the second contest, abusing the pick-and-roll to perfection against an uninspiring Pacers Gaming defense. Tonight, the stakes are the same and Magic Gaming will run into a familiar face.
After spending the first part of last season in Orlando, Kel (16.6 points per game) found a home as BP’s backcourt mate and has been a lethal offensive weapon for Hawks Talon GC. After beginning 3-1, Atlanta’s season has been up and down but tonight is one last opportunity to salvage it. It’s also another BP vs. Reizey showdown in a rematch of last year’s Rookie of the Year favorites.
Key Matchup: DT vs. Lee
Anytime your center is dropping near 30-20 games, your team has a decent shot at winning. DT simply had his way in the paint against Pacers Gaming and tonight he’ll aim for similar results. He’ll be squaring off with 2020’s top rookie center. Lee has proved to be well worth Atlanta’s most recent first-round pick, ranking top-15 in both rebounds (12.3) and blocks (2.4) per game, while leading the league in field goal percentage (74.8%).
Blazer5 Gaming vs. Celtics Crossover Gaming
Blazer5 Gaming’s core just can’t end another season with disappointment. All the talent, all the expectations, and each year they find a new way to fall short. Of course, this season brought special circumstances, nonetheless, B5 underperformed. The Ticket represents one last chance to redeem themselves and Blazer5’s veteran trio of Mama, Walnut, and Lav are determined to turn around their 2020 campaign.
Celtics Crossover Gaming advanced after knocking off Heat Check Gaming. While I can’t speak on the gameplay because the series was played off broadcast—and finished one a Bulleyy series-winning buzzer-beater—Boston is suddenly an interesting Ticket team. FT’s addition rejuvenated their starting five and his scoring ability was much-needed after late-season roster shuffling.
Key Matchup: FT vs. LavishPhenom
How many games has FT played now? However many it is, it doesn’t stack up to LavishPhenom’s resume quite yet. While Boston’s new point guard has enjoyed early-career success, Blazer5’s savvy vet is a tough draw. Throw in the fact that Lav is coming off a career-week offensively and Portland’s veteran defender has the potential to make it a long evening for Celtics Crossover Gaming.
76ers GC vs. Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai
76ers GC played spoiler down the stretch and their late-season surge is a partial reason a couple of Ticket teams find themselves in the tournament. After nearly stealing the tenth seed, Philly received an extra day of rest as they awaited last night’s 8 p.m. matchups to reveal their next opponent: Gen.G. 76ers GC has put together a solid second half of the season and with Radiant leading the charge, you just can’t count them out.
The Gen.G Tigers are as confusing an NBA 2K League team as they come. Midseason, I was telling anybody who would listen that this team was going to make noise and go on their run, and it just never happened. We’ve seen flashes of their potential all season and last night was another important step.
ShiftyKaii was ShiftyKaii, scoring and distributing against Cleveland’s defense at will, but what’s important was how the pieces around him played. Killey contributed offensively in place of Gen, scoring 18+ in both contests while consistently hitting his three-point looks (12/17). Flac did a little bit of everything (3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals per game) at power forward, allowing Deadeye (17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds per game) to reclaim his starting center position (and we’ll get to Turnupdefense below). The talent seems to be there as always, but can Gen.G take advantage of their absolute last chance this season?
Key Matchup: Radiant vs. TurnupDefense
These two dueled in last season’s Finals. While the stakes aren’t the same, and Turnup is wearing a different uniform, playoffs are still on the line. Radiant’s game has grown stronger throughout the season and he finally looks like the MVP finalist we know from the past. This matchup represents a pair of savvy veterans going head-to-head and likely decides the series winner.