ORLANDO – Balance. That’s the key word for Magic Gaming as they embark on their 2021 NBA 2K League campaign.
If Orlando hopes to make the playoffs in season four for the first time in franchise history, it will need balanced scoring throughout its rotation as well as balance on both ends of the basketball floor.
For seven of the eight quarters on Wednesday night, Magic Gaming showed flashes of that and demonstrated how dangerous of a team they can be when they’re clicking on all cylinders. As a result, they split their opening series with NetsGC and put together stretches of gameplay that have them extremely confident moving forward.
Game 1: Magic Gaming hoped to carry momentum from their impressive run in THE TIPOFF tournament into their regular season opener against NetsGC. Unfortunately for Orlando, a slow start against Brooklyn proved too costly to overcome.
Despite a game-high 26-point performance from Brendan “Reizey” Hill, Magic Gaming suffered a 67-58 defeat to NetsGC, which led wire-to-wire after jumping out to a 14-2 first-quarter lead.
Justin “Snubby” Stemerman scored 13 and Robert “May” May notched 12 points and 10 rebounds to help Magic Gaming cut down an early double-digit deficit and pull within four late in the final quarter.
However, NetsGC’s dynamic duo of Connor “Shotz” Rodrigues, who was acquired in an offseason trade, and Josh “Choc” Humphries, who the team selected in the 2020 NBA 2K League draft, helped Brooklyn secure a victory.
Choc finished with 23 points and nine assists, while Shotz tallied 20 points and nine rebounds.
“Shotz was phenomenal tonight as always,” Magic Gaming General Manager/Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “He’s a great player – he was great in Sacramento against us last year – and he’ll always be dominant in this league to some degree. And Choc played better than any of us expected tonight.”
Game 2: When Magic Gaming acquired Snubby from Hornets Venom GT this offseason, they were hoping for a secondary scoring threat to pair in the backcourt with Reizey.
In Game 2 of the series, Orlando’s backcourt duo turned that vision into reality. Snubby erupted for a team-high 25 points, while Reizey notched 20 points and 13 assists as Magic Gaming cut down NetsGC, 78-73.
“Any game me and Reizey are putting up twenty points each is a really good game for us,” Snubby said. “That’s what I envisioned, and I think that’s what they envisioned when they brought me over and I was just glad to see it pay off in that game.”
Snubby knocked down two of his four triples in the final frame and activated a Team Takeover, a rare feat for a shooting guard in the league build, to help secure the victory.
“Good gracious, I don’t think Snubby could step up more big time than that,” Edwards said. “He was phenomenal in that second game.”
Josue “FutureClutch” Acosta Gomez poured in 17 points, while Daniel “DT” Tlais scored eight and knocked down a critical 3-pointer with 44 seconds left that extended Orlando’s lead to four and sealed the victory.
“It really won us the game,” Edwards explained. “Big shot by DT, but he’s kind of known for that. He steps up in big moments and he makes big-time plays.”
Quote to Note: “Never take a team lightly in this league, especially on this game. Anybody can beat anybody in this league. (There are) a lot of talented people out there and every game counts now. You can’t just drop a game (this season) and win the next two. Every single game counts (towards your overall record). We realize that more now than ever tonight.” – Snubby
Looking Ahead: Magic Gaming will get their first look at Gen.G this season when they go head-to-head on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Gen.G made a major splash this offseason when they sent Dhwan “ShiftyKaii” White to T-Wolves Gaming as part of a deal that brought in Mihad “Feast” Feratovic and Jordan “JMoney” Martinez.
After JMoney led the league in usage in THE TIPOFF, Magic Gaming will certainly prioritize limiting the potent point guard, who plays on the same pro-am squad as May and FutureClutch.
“They have an elite offense in Gen.G with JMoney and Bsmoove,” Edwards said.