All eyes on THE TICKET: Raptors Uprising fall to Grizz Gaming to finish 2021 regular season

TORONTO, Canada—The 2021 NBA 2K League regular season is in the books and it’s all eyes on the THE TICKET Tournament powered by AT&T as Raptors Uprising GC suffered their first losses in six games falling to Grizz Gaming in Week 10 action on Wednesday.

Facing their third playoff team in as many matchups — Grizz Gaming (18-10) were third in the Eastern Conference heading into this one — Raptors Uprising (9-19) once again came out strong with their new point guard Dimez leading the charge.

The league’s first-ever draft pick scored 10 of Toronto’s 17 points in the first quarter, and continued his scorching start in the second, pouring in 13 more to finish the first half with an eye-opening 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor. However, despite Dimez’s heroic play, Raptors Uprising still trailed by one point heading into the break as Grizz Gaming point guard Vandi would overcome a slow start to keep things interesting heading into the second half.

Although momentum would appear to be shifting Memphis’ way, the team from the North refused to go down without a fight, as reigning MVP Kenny Got Work would come alive in the third quarter. After scoring just two points in the opening half, Kenny — who has shifted to shooting guard since the arrival of Dimez — would find his stroke in the third, knocking down 12 points to give Toronto the narrow two-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, that’s when things unraveled for Toronto as Grizz Gaming would start the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run with all five players on the team from Memphis getting in on the fun. From that point on, Raptors Uprising were unable to recover, as Grizz Gaming would take Game 1 by a score of 75-66.

Dimez would finish with a game-high 29 points, but was held to just six in the final two quarters, while Type had an outstanding performance, putting up 20 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks, no turnovers on 10 of 10 shooting from the field.

“In the fourth, we kind of got dry on offence,” said TsJosh. “They scored in transition, we gave up easy stuff on defence, it was just a bad fourth quarter on both ends. It’s crazy, we should’ve pushed the lead more in the other three quarters — I feel like I missed some shots that could’ve extended the lead even more to give us a little room to breathe — so it came down to one quarter and they won.”

With neither team having much to play for in Game 2, it would be Memphis getting the spark they needed by rolling out a new-look lineup. The team responded by jumping out to an early 14-5 lead — as Vandi scored all 14 points — and would take a commanding 43-25 lead heading into the second half.

Credit to Raptors Uprising, however, as they’ve done all season, the team refused to quit, even with nothing at stake. Toronto would outscore Memphis 50-45 down the stretch, but that first half deficit proved to be too much to overcome as Grizz Gaming would take Game 2 by a score of 88-75.

Even though Raptors Uprising didn’t finish the regular season on the note that they wanted, there’s still some silver lining after another tough matchup against a talented Memphis squad.

“It’s another playoff team,” said TsJosh. “We’re still 4-2 against playoff teams (since the acquisition of Dimez). So, for sure we know we can compete. We haven’t even played against teams we’re going to be playing in THE TICKET. Teams still have us on their radar, and we still know what we’re capable of.”

Despite the two losses on Wednesday, Raptors Uprising enter THE TICKET Tournament feeling confident having played three playoff teams in a row, winning four out of their last six. The tournament next week is their last shot at qualifying for the postseason, but with the new-look team playing the best basketball they have been all season, hopes are high north of the border.

“Super confident. We didn’t want to end the season on two losses, but we knew regardless that these games didn’t change anything,” said TsJosh. “We knew we would be playing in THE TICKET and we knew our seeding wouldn’t really move. We’re just going to watch the games this week because we have a lot of potential opponents we could play. As far as our game, we’re still confident in our game…”

As mentioned, up next is THE TICKET Tournament powered by AT&T. The 13 remaining teams who have not booked their spot in the postseason will compete from Thursday, Aug. 19 through Saturday, Aug. 21, with the winning team from each conference earning the 11th and 12th spots in the Playoffs.

We’ll have more on this in the coming week. Stay tuned — it’s far from over yet.