ORLANDO – Sitting at 4-2, Magic Gaming will be in action twice this week, with one of their opponents undefeated and the other struggling to find their rhythm.
On Thursday, Orlando will face off against Pacers Gaming, the only team in the NBA 2K League who has played at least three regular season games and hasn’t lost. The first meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m.
Then on Saturday, with the first game tipping off at 9 p.m., they will take on their rivals from the south, Heat Check Gaming, who have won just once through their first eight contests.
Last week, the Magic split their two-game series with 76ers GC, an opponent they have played seven games against this season, including five in THE TIPOFF.
The first of the two games last week went Orlando’s way. Three Magic players scored in double figures in their 65-58 victory, including center Robert “May” May, who scored 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Justin “Snubby” Stemerman, acquired by Orlando from Hornets Venom GT in the offseason, made several big plays in the second half, including dishing out a key assist to Daniel “DT” Tlais who knocked down the go-ahead jumper just before the end of the third quarter.
“Definitely down the stretch the keys were hitting some big shots and obviously following through with our defensive gameplan,” Snubby said. “We know the Sixers have a great pick-and-roll duo with Dre (Andre Marshall) and Walnut (Dayne “OneWildWalnut” Downey) and I feel like we really slowed them down in that first game and especially down the stretch.”
The rematch favored Philadelphia 78-70, as Dre erupted for 33 points and Robert “Caliraq” Ruiz came up clutch in the final minutes, finishing with 15 points.
“We definitely know that Dre and Walnut are their best players offensively. I think there is no surprise there. The numbers show that and I think they would be more than willing to admit that,” Magic Gaming General Manager/Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “Obviously, with Dre killing it like he has been in the regular season and THE TIPOFF tournament and obviously in game two he was as well, the goal was to get it out of his hands (in the fourth quarter). We did not do a great job against him in game two at all.”
Magic Gaming vs. Pacers Gaming: A series that may very well deserve to be billed as the “Matchup of the Week,” 6-0 Pacers Gaming against 4-2 Magic Gaming has all the storylines one could ask for going into a NBA 2K League showdown.
The point guard battle, featuring Brendan “Reizey” Hill on one side and Enrique “630” Xavier Barraza on the other, will certainly be one to keep an eye on, as both have gotten off to spectacular starts to the season.
The second overall pick in the 2021 NBA 2K League Draft, 630 leads the league in scoring with 34.8 points per game on 51.6 percent shooting from the floor and 45 percent from 3-point range. Last week in Indiana’s four wins, two against Cavs Legion GC and two against Kings Guard Gaming, the Illinois native scored over 30 in all of them, including in the opener against Cleveland when he exploded for 40 points.
But, as Edwards and his squad are well aware of, the Pacers are a deep, talented team with savvy veterans surrounding their superstar rookie floor general.
“We know what to expect from the Pacers. That’s a team we’ve scrimmaged several times,” Edwards said. “Other than 630, they have guys that are league veterans that have been around the block. So we know exactly kind of what they want to do whereas Philadelphia – obviously this is our seventh game against them – they have newer guys. So, it does take time to pick up on those tendencies at a high level. That’s the good thing about going against the Pacers as opposed to Philadelphia. But regardless, the Pacers have a plethora of challenges they create with 630.”
Magic Gaming vs. Heat Check Gaming: One of several blockbuster trades that occurred over the offseason involved Sten “Sav” Valge-Saar getting sent to Heat Check Gaming from Lakers Gaming for the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 draft, which L.A. used to take Maurice “ReeseDaGod” Delaney.
Although his team has struggled in the early portion of the season, Sav has delivered several sensational performances. Last week against Charlotte in Miami’s lone regular season victory so far, he posted 40 points and 12 assists. A couple nights later in the finale against Hawks Talon GC, he racked up 39 points and 12 dimes, although that paled in comparison to the 50 points Atlanta standout Caesar “Ceez” Martinez scored in that Hawks triumph.
Another Miami player familiar to Magic Gaming having played against him several times the last few seasons is Juan “Hotshot” Gonzalez, who led the Heat to the finals in Season 1. He, though, will have his hands full against one of this year’s top centers, May, who is in his second year in Orlando averaging 17.3 points and 11.2 rebounds.
“The word around the league is that he’s not like that but I’ve known for years that he was like that,” Snubby said of May. “What he’s doing right now is what we expect from him and I know he expects it from himself as well.”