ORLANDO – It’s not always about how you start. Instead, it’s about how you finish.
In Magic Gaming’s case, they’re hoping that maxim rings true, not only about their series with 76ers GC, but about their season overall.
Orlando (4-7) overcame a slow start on Tuesday to roll past Philadelphia for a 2-1 series victory and in the process showcased some of its best offensive performances of the season.
Game 1: In some games it’s tough to put your finger on the deciding factor of the outcome. That was not the case in Game 1. Magic Gaming struggled with ball security throughout the contest as they fell to 76ers GC, 86-61.
Orlando dug itself a deep hole from the start, giving away the ball nine times in the first quarter alone without forcing Philadelphia to commit a single turnover.
Brendan “Reizey” Hill, who shifted to a shooting guard, led Magic Gaming with a game-high 27 points to go along with 10 assists, but also led the team in turnovers, committing six of the squad’s 17 giveaways. Robert “May” May tallied 16 points, 19 rebounds and six blocks.
76ers GC power forward Christopher “BreadwinnnerLA” Lafanette stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists, and seven steals. Philadelphia point guard Ethan “Radiant” White scored 23, while center Tucker “TuckerLocksUp” Henry, who was a member of Magic Gaming last season, notched 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Game 2: After struggling to find their rhythm in Game 1, Magic Gaming bounced back in Game 2 with one of their best offensive outputs of the season.
Reizey erupted for 27 of his contest-best 37 points in the second half as Orlando steamrolled Philadelphia, 80-64.
Magic Gaming exploded after the break, opening the third quarter on a 22-2 run. May delivered another double-double, notching 14 points and 19 rebounds, while Brandon “ToXsiK” Raudenbush and Daniel “DT” Tlais each poured in 11 points.
Orlando’s perimeter defense also played a significant role in the win as it held Philadelphia to a 2-for-8 shooting performance from distance. Meanwhile, Magic Gaming, which has struggled from beyond the arc this season, knocked down nine of their 15 attempts from three-point range.
“It was such a focal point after game one to not let them have a single three,” Magic Gaming Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “We knew we were going to get threes up, so we knew if we limited theirs, we’d have a stranglehold on the game.”
Game 3: Magic Gaming once again rode a second-half surge to secure the series with an 80-62 Game 3 victory.
Their start to the third quarter was again a pivotal piece to the puzzle, opening up the period on a 16-4 run.
“We got the loose balls, we made plays,” Edwards said. “It was all about focusing in and trying to do what we set out to do in the game plan.”
Reizey’s scoring prowess shined bright for the third straight game, as he lit up Philadelphia for a game-high 44 points, 24 of which came after the break.
May recorded his first career triple-double, notching 11 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, while DT eclipsed double figures for the second straight game, scoring 10 points.
“May was exceptional today, both as a player and as a teammate,” Edwards said. “He always shows up, always performs, and I have to tell you, that’s a blessing. He’s great and I’m really happy to see him get his first triple-double.”
An additional key to Orlando’s electric offense was ToXsiK’s suffocating third-quarter defense on Radiant. Magic Gaming’s lockdown defender held him to a 2-for-8 shooting performance in the crucial third quarter, putting the dynamic point guard on a cold ring.
“Once he gets on that cold ring, Tox knows that he really can’t even look for the three,” Edwards explained. “As soon as that happened, we were really able to take everything away from him, guard the one or two kick-out options they had, and close out possessions with big defensive rebounds.”
Quote of the Night: “The focus is to take it one game at a time and (build) on our wins. Obviously, we have two cash games next week, which is an extra incentive and motivation for those. But from my end, we’re trying to improve every day. I truly think this is a group that can run through a tournament. We still have The Turn and potentially The Ticket, hopefully not, but if that’s our reality we’re going to be as prepared and as focused as any team there.” – Edwards
Up Next: Magic Gaming returns to action on Tuesday when they face Hawks Talon GC at 9 p.m. ET. Orlando went 1-1 against Atlanta in THE TIPOFF earlier this season. Similar to that tournament, Magic Gaming’s success will likely hinge on how well they can limit Hawks Talon GC point guard Michael “BP” Diaz-Cruz, who was edged out by Reizey for Rookie of the Year honors last season. The matchup will be broadcasted on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch (@NBA2kLeague) and YouTube (@NBA2kLeague) channels.