ORLANDO – Fresh off a signature win over one of the league’s best teams, Magic Gaming is hoping to build momentum heading into the second half of the season.
History is on its side as Orlando has overcome slow starts the past two years, rebounded, and managed to post winning records in every one of its NBA 2K League campaigns.
The common factor in those seasons was Magic Gaming’s work ethic as they continued to grind in practices and scrimmages late into the 2K League calendar year. This season’s squad is no different with a roster built on players who strive to be among the game’s best.
“We’re going to continue to outwork teams as the season goes on,” Magic Gaming Head Coach Jonah Edwards explained. “You saw (those results) last year – as well as some good roster moves – and that’s a big part of why Magic Gaming has been so consistent in the second half of seasons. It’s because we don’t change our approach. We work hard every day. We trust that we’re going to continue to improve every day and get better.”
Also working in Magic Gaming’s favor is their schedule. After this week’s slate of games, Orlando (3-6) only has one matchup remaining against a team with a winning a record.
But before they set their sights on the future, Magic Gaming must handle the tasks at hand. On their docket this week is two tough teams, Hornets Venom GT, which boasts a 6-3 record, and 76ers GC, which features Ethan “Radiant” White, one of the most dynamic guards in the league.
Orlando is expected to get a boost with the return of Daniel “DT” Tlais, who’s missed the last five regular season games – along with THE TIPOFF tournament – due to personal reasons.
“I praise DT for his big-play ability; he kind of just knows when it’s a moment to go get one,” Edwards said. “I would expect him to come in and be an asset for us on offense.”
MATCHUP TO WATCH VS. HORNETS VENOM GT: Charlotte is once again expected to be without center Xavier “Type” Vescovi when they face Orlando on Monday at 7 p.m. ET. As a result, Zaeya “Zae” Ishak will likely slide over to the five spot and Alontae “Gliz” Parker will play power forward for the second straight game. It’s a position Gliz is extremely comfortable in, considering he was one of the NBA 2K League’s top four-men last season, then as a member of Jazz Gaming.
He’ll certainly provide a good test for DT, who will also move into a power forward role upon his return, taking the place of Alex “Profusion” Snowden in the lineup.
While that’s clearly the matchup to watch, Hornets Venom GT point guard Justin “Snubby” Stemerman and Zae have been two of the most consistent rookies from their draft class and will certainly be a focus of Orlando’s defensive schemes.
“They’re both pretty great scorers, especially inside,” Edwards said. “Snubby does a great job controlling the game. We’d be remiss to not mention (Alexander “Expose” Whelan), their shooting guard, who was one of the league’s top draft picks and at moments has taken over games. All three of those guys are pretty good.”
MATCHUP TO WATCH VS. 76ers GC: While Philadelphia’s 1-7 record is certainly a disappointment, this is a squad that’s much tougher than its place in the standings indicates. A main reason why is 76ers GC point guard Radiant, who’ll be matched up against Brendan “Reizey” Hill.
“Any team with Radiant is going to be a challenge,” Edwards said. “Radiant is still a great player and a great point guard. We’re going to expect him and them at their best. Even though they may be struggling a bit in their record, they’ve been close a couple of times and when they’re at their best, they’re still pretty good. We definitely can’t give them anything for free.”
Reizey and Radiant are more than familiar with one another. In addition to Philadelphia being one of the teams Orlando frequently scrimmages against, Reizey and Radiant play together on the same Pro-Am Team, No Smoke, during the offseason.
“They’re two of the league’s premier guards and not just in the sense that they’re getting good production, but two of the best dribblers and create for yourself in the halfcourt guards,” Edwards said.
HOW TO WATCH: Both matchups will be broadcasted on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch (@NBA2kLeague) and YouTube (@NBA2kLeague) channels.