ORLANDO – Magic Gaming came into season four of the NBA 2K League confident that with their experienced roster they would be able to earn a playoff spot for the first time in team history and potentially make some noise in the postseason.
Unfortunately for Orlando, those dreams came to an end on Thursday as they were swept in their best-of-three series with Celtics Crossover Gaming and thus eliminated from THE TICKET, the final tournament of the season, which grants the final playoff spot in each conference to two teams who finished outside the top five in their respective division.
Game 1: In the NBA 2K League, there are tough losses and then there are heartbreakers. For Orlando, the opening contest of this series fell into the second category.
After a second-chance, buzzer-beating triple by Boston point guard Sheriff “FT” Cruz forced overtime, Magic Gaming ultimately fell 74-70 to Celtics Crossover Gaming in the extra session.
It was a devastating defeat for Orlando, who appeared to have the game in hand multiple times throughout the contest.
Magic Gaming utilized a 10-0 third-quarter run to take a nine-point lead. However, three turnovers early in the fourth quarter by Orlando point guard Brendan “Reizey” Hill allowed Boston to get back in contention.
The floor general responded by scoring Magic Gaming’s final 10 points of the period to help Orlando take a four-point lead with 11.4 seconds left. After Tamer “Bulleyy” Mustafa’s dunk cut Magic Gaming’s lead to two with 9.9 seconds left, Boston intentionally fouled Reizey and sent him to the free throw line. The former Rookie of the Year was only able to knock down one of two. That opened the door for FT’s heroics, which forced an extra session and ultimately gave the CLTX the game.
“It’s just super unlucky,” said Magic Gaming General Manager and Head Coach Jonah Edwards. “We look back at that game, especially in overtime, and we realize we certainly could have won, but ultimately the ball fell in their lap, and they were able to capitalize. I thought they did an incredible job of capitalizing on our mistakes, especially in game one.”
Reizey finished the contest with game highs in points (34) and assists (11), but also committed seven of the team’s 13 turnovers. Shooting guard Justin “Snubby” Stemerman scored 16, while Daniel “DT” Tlais, who slid from power forward to center for this series, tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals.
For Boston, FT notched 33 points and nine assists. Center Jhade “worthingcolt” Black, who collected the offensive rebound and kicked it out to FT for the OT-forcing shot, was perhaps the contest’s most impressive player. He stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, five steals, and two blocks.
“Colt stepped up huge, especially in that game one,” Edwards said. “He was really just getting it done from every angle and when a guy is going like that, it’s going to be hard to score. It’s going to be hard to be efficient at least.”
Game 2: After a crushing opening contest to the series, Magic Gaming recovered and put together a strong showing through the first three quarters of game two. However, in the final frame, Boston once again bested Orlando.
Magic Gaming struggled to find their offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter and dropped a 77-73 decision to Celtics Crossover Gaming. As a result, Orlando was eliminated from THE TICKET and their postseason dreams were dashed.
It was a tough blow for Magic Gaming as the team held a double-digit third-quarter lead and had not committed a single turnover entering the fourth. But Orlando’s offense stalled down the stretch as it mustered just 10 points in the final period.
“They played solid defense,” said Robert “May” May, who made the switch from center to power forward for this series. “They really gave up nothing.”
Reizey led the team with 25 points and 12 assists, while DT tallied 18 points, five rebounds and two steals. Snubby scored 17 and May added eight points, five rebounds and three steals.
For Boston, FT was sensational in the second half, scoring 23 of his game-high 34 points after halftime. Bulleyy poured in 15 points, while worthingcolt recorded 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Quote to Note: “It’s super disappointing to lose, especially in the fashion we did. Even though we beat Boston a few weeks ago and had double-digit leads in the second halves of both games tonight. We have a team that can be effective at times, but the reasons we lost tonight are the same reasons we’re not going to be one of the teams in Dallas (for the playoffs). Just too much inconsistency from start to finish. We’ve had great moments this year and we’ve had a lot of bad moments too. We saw both of those again tonight.” – Edwards on Magic Gaming’s season coming to an end.