ORLANDO – Magic Gaming’s NBA 2K League 3v3 Cinderella story came to an end in heartbreaking fashion on Friday night.
At the bottom of the standings midway through the season, Orlando engineered a trade to acquire 2022 2KL fifth overall pick Joshua “unguardable” Hunter. Since then, the franchise has been among the elite teams in the league in 3v3. They went 4-1 in seed week play. They won the STEAL OPEN and earned a spot in the playoffs.
And after opening the 3v3 postseason with a win over Handlez, they took a two-time champion Wizards District Gaming squad the distance before coming up short on the final possession in the deciding game of a best-of-five series.
“This has certainly been a great run,” said Magic Gaming General Manager and Head Coach Jonah Edwards. “Obviously, not the ending we had hoped for and thought we were going to have. It’s unfortunate because we look at the rest of the teams in the playoffs at this point and we feel like us and the Wizards are the two best. But now, we’re obviously on the outside.”
Wizards District Gaming came out in the series opener and demonstrated why they’re the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington point guard Justin “Kapp” Kaplan erupted for 17 points, including the game-sealing bucket, to give Wizards District Gaming a 22-18 victory over Magic Gaming.
Kapp, who was selected 10th overall by Orlando in the 2022 2KL Draft but sent to Washington via a midseason trade, scored the first 11 points for Wizards District Gaming.
Magic Gaming point guard unguardable led Orlando with nine points and four assists, while center Robert “May” May added six points and four rebounds.
Magic Gaming took Wizards District Gaming’s best punch in the opener, but in the second contest of the series they answered with a roundhouse of their own.
Unguardable knocked down a step-back, fadeaway three to secure Orlando’s 23-16 triumph over Washington. The fifth overall pick in the 2022 2KL Draft and frontrunner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award finished with 12 points and four assists.
May posted six points and four rebounds, while small forward Matthew “Matty” Grant scored five.
Kapp once again was the leading scorer for Wizards District Gaming with 11 points.
All season long Wizards District Gaming has focused on taking the points available and forcing the opposition into mistakes. In the third contest of this series, they did exactly that. An offensive three-second violation and a costly turnover proved to be Orlando’s demise in a 22-16 loss to Washington.
Wizards District Gaming had a balanced offensive attack as small forward Ryan “Dayfri” Conger scored eight and power forward Justin “Just Awkward” Howell and Kapp each scored seven.
May tallied team highs in points (eight) and rebounds (three) for Orlando.
Facing elimination, Magic Gaming needed unguardable to live up to his moniker. Orlando’s star guard delivered. Unguardable went a perfect 4-for-4 from downtown to lift Magic Gaming to a 21-14 win over Wizards District Gaming.
Unguardable finished with 12 points and four assists, while Matty scored five.
With their season on the line, Magic Gaming rallied back from a six-point deficit to take the lead late against Wizards District Gaming. Unguardable even had a three-point chance to claim the game and the series. However, ultimately, it would be Kapp that would knock down a series-clinching triple to give Wizards District Gaming a 23-21 victory over Magic Gaming and help them advance to the 3v3 Eastern Conference Finals.
Kapp finished with 14 points and three assists, while Dayfri scored nine.
“I have the upmost respect for the Magic Gaming organization,” said Kapp. “They treated me right. They took a chance on me. I look at it as they didn’t trade me, but (the Wizards) came and got me.”
Unguardable put up 11 points and five assists, while May notched 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Quote to Note:
“Super proud of the guys. We stuck together throughout this whole thing. I can’t ask for much more from a coaching perspective. We fought to get to this position. We knew it was possible. We at least were able to add some money to our pockets, get recognition for players who deserve it, and show that the work was worth it.” – Edwards
Now, Magic Gaming will turn their attention to the 2KL 5v5 championships. Orlando opens playoff action in that format on Wednesday when it goes head-to-head with Gen.G at 5 p.m. ET in a best-of-three series.
In the most recent meeting between the two teams, Magic Gaming swept Gen.G in 3v3 action to advance in THE STEAL, which eventually led to Orlando’s postseason berth in that format. However, the last time the two squads met in 5v5, Gen.G edged Magic Gaming, 71-64.
Limiting Gen.G’s strong backcourt combo of point guard Jaiden “OTTR” Frank and shooting guard Darjean “ReturnOfDJ” Henderson will certainly be a priority for Magic Gaming.
“They do a lot of things that are pretty unique,” said Edwards. “Up the court, they do some things that make it difficult on the defense to guard and they’ll find a way to get free ones. When we played them last time, I thought we did a good job on them, especially defensively.”
How to Watch:
Fans can watch games live on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch and YouTube channels. Games will also be available on Dash Radio, eGG Network in Southeast Asia, Loco in India, and Sport1 in Europe.