ORLANDO – Magic Gaming’s regular season ends this week with a matchup against their Sunshine State rivals on Wednesday starting at 7 p.m. A successful series against Heat Check Gaming would give Orlando added momentum and, assuming it’s their only way of getting into the playoffs, a higher seed in the win-or-go-home TICKET tournament, which runs from Thursday, Aug. 19 through Saturday, Aug. 21.
This will be the second time this season the Magic and Heat will square off. They last met up virtually on June 12. Although both contests were nip-and-tuck affairs, Miami walked away with a pair of victories. Juan “Hotshot” Gonzalez made a winning dunk in the opener and Sten “Sav” Valge-Saar drilled a winning 3-pointer in overtime in the rematch.
Currently, Magic Gaming sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, just one game back of Knicks Gaming for sixth. That’s important to note because the two teams from each conference that finish the regular season in sixth automatically advance to the TICKET championship round, making the path to securing a playoff spot much less toilsome.
Orlando pulled closer to that coveted sixth spot thanks to a sweep over Celtics Crossover Gaming last week. Brendan “Reizey” Hill posted 34 points and 11 assists in Game 1 to lead the Magic. Then, behind clutch plays from both Josue “FutureClutch” Acosta Gomez and Jackson “Potts” Potts, Orlando overcame an eight-point third quarter deficit to notch a second consecutive victory.
“When we walked in today, (Magic Gaming General Manager and Head Coach) Jonah (Edwards) said we probably are not going to be able to get in the playoffs in the traditional way, but we likely are going to have to go THE TICKET route, so let’s go out here and have some fun.” relayed Potts, who knocked down a critical corner triple with 25 seconds left in Game 2. “Let’s play loose, be excited. And today, we are just some guys being dudes. We are going out there, we are having fun. We handled business and I think team morale is very high right now.”
One of the oddities this season for Magic Gaming has been their “home” versus “away” win-loss differential. They are 10-2 when playing on their own virtual court and 2-12 on the opponent’s floor. Court layout makes practically no difference when it comes to game flow, but it’s interesting nonetheless and if it’s making a psychological impact then the Magic should feel good knowing their series against the Heat will be on their own court.
Going into Week 10, three East teams – Wizards District Gaming (21-5), Hornets Venom GT (17-7) and Grizz Gaming (16-10) – have secured playoff spots. One more win for NetsGC, which plays 4-20 Bucks Gaming in their regular season finale, and they are in. 76ers GC (14-10) controls their own destiny, but a poor finish could jeopardize their chances. The 13-13 Knicks, who wrap up against Blazer5, own the tiebreaker against Philadelphia having swept them earlier this season.
The 12-14 Magic have not been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention without having to participate in THE TICKET. But, their chances are extremely slim. They would need to win both of their games against the Heat and the Sixers, who play the Wizards and Heat this week, would have to lose all four of their remaining contests. Plus, they would need the Knicks and Celtics to not win out. Orlando owns the head-to-head tiebreakers over Boston and Gen. G having swept both this season. They didn’t play New York, so should they finish with the same record as the Knicks, that tiebreaker would be determined off other seeding hierarchy criteria including win-loss percentage in the conference or possibly average point differential.
Miami has also technically not been mathematically eliminated, but they would have to go 4-0 this week and get a ton of help as well. The only teams in the East right now guaranteed to be in THE TICKET are Raptors Uprising GC and Hawks Talon GC.
Key Matchup vs. Heat: The battle at center between Robert “May” May and Hotshot will be one to keep an eye on. May is the league leader in field goal percentage, while his Miami counterpart ranks third in that category. They are also fifth and 14th, respectively, in rebounding.
Hotshot is one of very few players who has been in the league since the inaugural season while playing for just one team. He was the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft by his hometown Heat, who reached the Finals in Season 1 with him leading the way.
“Of course, when you think of the Heat you are going to think of Hotshot,” Edwards said. “Obviously, the role he plays, especially offensively, (he’s) very aggressive (and) very well-versed around the rim.”
While slowing down Hotshot will be important, there are others on the Heat’s roster that the Magic must limit. Sav, the league’s 16th leading scorer, can go off, and his backcourt mate, Brian “Killeyy” Diaz is a proven sharpshooter.
Miami was off last week. They went 2-2 the prior week, dropping a pair to Washington before sweeping Pistons GT. Sav recorded 29 points and 12 assists in the opener against Detroit and then had 34 and 14 in the second contest.
How to Watch: Games will air live on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch and YouTube channels.