ORLANDO – Magic Gaming’s postseason aspirations took a major blow on Wednesday night. Hoping to gain ground on Memphis in the Eastern Conference playoff race, Orlando instead was dealt a pair of defeats.
Now, despite having four regular season contests remaining against two teams – Celtics Crossover Gaming and Heat Check Gaming – Orlando will likely have to rely on THE TICKET tournament, which grants a playoff berth to the winning team from each conference, if it hopes to reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
Game 1: Magic Gaming rolled out their biggest lineup adjustment of the season as Justin “Snubby” Stemerman and Brendan “Reizey” Hill swapped backcourt spots against Grizz Gaming.
Snubby, who previously played point guard for Hornets Venom GT in season three, stepped into the floor general spot and notched 20 points and 10 assists. However, Orlando was unable to find enough offense down the stretch to go blow for blow with Memphis in a 78-73 defeat.
Magic Gaming led by five with 3:28 to play, but Grizz Gaming answered with a 10-0 run that proved to be too much for Orlando to overcome.
“Some things just didn’t go our way,” Snubby explained. “Missed shots, turnovers. They were able to (execute) some little things, which we weren’t able to.”
Memphis’ Zach “Vandi” Vandivier scored nine of his game-high 28 points in the final frame, while Mehyar “AuthenticAfrican” Ahmed-Hassan added eight of his 20 points in the closing quarter.
Despite switching to shooting guard, Reizey still made an impact for Orlando, notching 20 points and five assists. Daniel “DT” Tlais posted 14 points and six rebounds, while Robert “May” May tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“The idea (behind the guard position swap) was to get everyone involved,” Magic General Manager and Head Coach Jonah Edwards explained. “I think Snubby is probably a slightly better facilitator. In that first game, I think we showed that. Our offense is maybe a little freer when he’s at the point guard position. Obviously, he’s newer to it on this year’s (game) build. Obviously, a little too heavy on the turnovers (six). Of course, those can be a little better too.”
Game 2: Unlike game one – and their prior two meetings with Memphis earlier this season – game two was not a tight-knit contest that came down to the wire.
Grizz Gaming controlled much of the contest on their way to a 70-62 victory over Magic Gaming, extending Orlando’s regular season losing streak to seven games.
Four Memphis players scored in double figures led by Vandi, who fired off a contest-best 24 points. Larry “followTHEGOD” Niblack Jr. scored 15, Chess added 13, and AuthenticAfrican posted 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“FollowTHEGOD was phenomenal tonight,” Edwards said. “He was able to force a ton of havoc. Whatever way he does it, he was able to force steals that led to transition baskets. I thought tonight was one of the better series, probably, of his career.”
Snubby led Orlando with 18 points and six assists, while DT had 18 points and five rebounds. May notched 10 points and 16 rebounds, while Reizey and small forward Josue “FutureClutch” Acosta Gomez each scored eight.
Up Next: Orlando (10-14) will look to bounce back on Thursday as it prepares for a two-game set against Boston (10-10). After a sluggish start to their campaign, Celtics Crossover Gaming has won five straight regular season contests.
Magic Gaming will look to limit Sheriff “FT” Cruz, who’s known for his ability to hit difficult shots and can play either guard position, as well as Jhade “worthingcolt” Black, who makes smart plays and can control the boards. On the other end of the floor, rookie Tayzo “TayZo” Williams has already positioned himself as a top-five lockdown defender in the league.
“Look for it to be a good matchup,” Snubby said. “They have a really good defense, and they are fighting for a playoff spot as well. These games aren’t meaningless for them, and they certainly are not for us.”
Quote to Note: “We’re still optimistic that we can make a run at THE TICKET if we’re there. Obviously, it’s looking like we certainly are now. We’re certainly not going to not try to win. We very much want and desire to have some momentum going into THE TICKET. That’s what we’re going to look to start tomorrow (against Boston) and we’re still getting used to this new adjustment as far as our lineup goes. Definitely room to improve in every area right now. A lot to work on still before we’re going to be good enough to win THE TICKET, but the journey does start tomorrow.” – Edwards on the team’s outlook with four regular season games remaining.
How to Watch: Games will air live on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch and YouTube channels.