The Week Ahead: Playoff Berth on the Line as 14 Teams, Including Magic Gaming, Prepare for TICKET

ORLANDO – The NBA 2K League’s highly anticipated TICKET tournament takes place this week, with the winner qualifying for the playoffs. Magic Gaming, riding a three-series winning streak, enters as the 16th seed and will face an opponent in the first round they recently defeated, Pacers Gaming, on Thursday at 5 p.m.

The hope for Orlando and all the teams who finished anywhere below 10th in the regular season standings is to reach the championship of the TICKET and play the other team the Magic recently beat, T-Wolves Gaming, who automatically advanced to the TICKET Finals by virtue of finishing in 10th place.

Fresh off two sweeps, in which all five players contributed in various ways, the Magic are confident they have what it takes to be the last team standing when the TICKET concludes on Saturday night.

“It’s really nice to have some wins like that under our belt going into the TICKET,” Magic Gaming Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “We’ve worked really hard to get to a point where we are trending upwards towards the end of the season. Obviously, a three-game winning streak at the end of the regular season is exactly what you want moving forward.”

One of the stars of the victory over Indiana was Alex “Profusion” Snowden, Magic Gaming’s second round pick in the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft. The sharpshooter totaled 31 points combined in the series’ two games, knocking down 11 of his 18 shot attempts overall and nine of his 13 3-point attempts.

“I think just working hard in practice and making sure I take advantage of the opportunities that are given to me,” Profusion said. “I think I’ve done a lot better in that sense. I’ve practiced my jump shot a lot more and I think that I’ve got the hang of it a lot more now. Just trying to get open now. That is one of my main focuses.”

Magic Gaming accomplished something extremely rare in the NBA 2K League in Game 2 of its series against the Pacers. All five players scored in double figures. Brendan “Reizey” Hill led the way with 21 points, Profusion had 20, Daniel “DT” Tlais and Brandon “ToXsiK” Raudenbush each tallied 14 and Robert “May” May scored 10.

It’s going to be critical for the Magic to be just as balanced on the offensive end in this tournament. What will also be important is for Orlando to do what it does best and that is smother opponents on the defensive side.

Both the Pacers and Wolves each committed 26 turnovers in their respective series against the Magic, who have certainly turned their defensive intensity up a few notches the last several weeks.

“One thing obviously we’ve been talking about for weeks now and kind of been trying to implement is how can we force more turnovers and one thing we’ve been able to do lately is just that, force more turnovers,” Edwards said.

Although disappointed they ended the regular season below .500, the Magic know they are capable of beating any opponent that stands in their way. This season, Orlando defeated Bucks Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming and Warriors Gaming Squad – all playoff teams. They also knocked off T-Wolves Gaming and 76ers GC, the two teams that played in last year’s Finals.

If the Magic beat the Pacers, they will advance to play Hawks Talon GC, the 13th seed, in the next round on Friday at 5 p.m. The teams that have already earned their spot in the playoffs are Raptors Uprising GC, Jazz Gaming, Warriors Gaming Squad, Wizards District Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming, Bucks Gaming, Mavs Gaming, Hornets Venom GT and NetsGC.

MATCHUP TO WATCH vs. PACERS GAMING: Profusion outplayed Nathaniel “NateKahl” Kahl at the small forward spot in last week’s series, which helped the Magic sweep the Pacers. This will be a very important matchup again as both teams will need each of them to knock down their open 3-point attempts.

This is NateKahl’s third year in the league. He won the championship with Knicks Gaming in the 2K League’s inaugural season, earning Finals MVP, and then switched New York City boroughs last year, playing for NetsGC.

Indiana acquired NateKahl, a Milwaukee native, last October in exchange for the 16th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Brooklyn then traded that pick to Atlanta, which chose Levi “Lee” Lamb with that selection.

HOW TO WATCH: All TICKET matches will air live from 5-11 p.m. ET on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch channel, as well as select matches airing live on ESPN’s digital platforms and the NBA 2K League’s YouTube channel, and on delay on eGG Network in Southeast Asia. ESPN2 will air matches live Aug. 13 from 7-11 p.m. ET and Aug. 15 from 5-11 p.m. ET.