Back-to-Back: Raptors Uprising win second banner of the year, conquer THE TURN

TORONTO, Canada—Undefeated in the regular season and two-for-two in tournaments, is there any stopping this Raptors Uprising GC team?

Toronto Raptors’ NBA 2K League affiliate Raptors Uprising added to their unprecedented resume on Saturday afternoon, exhibiting poise, versatility, and a lot of heart to capture the $260,000 THE TURN Tournament, powered by AT&T, holding off Wizards District Gaming (2-0 series) in the final.

It would be anything but gifted to Toronto, however, as the opening game of the best-of-three final set the tone for the rest of the series. A contest filled with several mini runs back-and-forth, it’d be Wizards DG carrying a slim lead into the fourth quarter.

Trailing by two points, Raptors Uprising would maintain their composure, especially on defence. Toronto held Washington to just 18 points on 41.2 per cent (seven-for-17) shooting in the second half as Timelycook and Sick One would produce a trio of momentum-swinging stops resulting in several key transition buckets the other way.

Their side would go on to outscore Wizards DG 17-10 in the final frame and that’d end up being the difference, as Raptors Uprising would take Game 1 (56-51). Sick One finished with a 10-point, 17-rebound double-double—outrebounding the entire Washington team—while Kenny Got Work poured in a team-high 20 points and ReeceMode added 13.

Toronto would carry that same energy over into Game 2, and that’s when star point guard Kenny Got Work began to take over. After struggling to find his three-point stroke throughout the day, the frontrunner for the 2020 NBA 2K League MVP award would adjust, instead taking what was given to him.

Leading the league in three-pointers made entering the tournament, he’d instead carve up the Wizards DG defence with his mid-range game, scoring 30 points on 72.2 per cent shooting (13-for-18) through the first three quarters as Raptors Uprising opened up as much as a 17-point lead.

Refusing to give up, the No. 3 seed Wizards DG put forth a valiant effort in the fourth quarter, making it interesting up until the final whistle, but the levelheadedness, will, and chemistry entrenched throughout this unparalleled Raptors Uprising squad proved to be too much.

Kenny Got Work would finish with 32 points and Legit 973, the cold-blooded rookie who often shows up in big games, ended the tournament-clincher with 13. Timelycook, meanwhile, was mainly responsible for shutting down 2020 first-overall pick JBM, limiting Washington’s floor marshal to just 12 points while forcing 10 turnovers as Toronto would take Game 2 (54-51) and THE TURN Tournament title.

For winning, Raptors Uprising earned $117,000 USD, while Wizards DG were rewarded with $52,000 for their second place efforts.

Televised on ESPN 2 and eGG Network in Southeast Asia, viewers around the world tuned in during the week to witness Raptors Uprising navigate their way through the 23-team single-elimination competition, eventually becoming the only franchise in NBA 2K League history to emerge victorious in the first two tournaments of the year.

The undefeated team from the North advanced to Saturday’s final four with sweeps over Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai and T-Wolves Gaming, making quick work of the defending NBA 2K League champions in Friday’s quarter-final.

And then in their semifinal matchup, which took place earlier in the day, the tournament’s top seed completed a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the No. 5 seed Kings Guard Gaming (2-1 series) in a rematch of THE TIPOFF final.

After Sick One dominated Game 1 (72-60) of that series, recording a 24-point, 11-assist double-double, Toronto native and former Raptors Uprising alumni Yusuf_Scarbz was shifted under the spotlight, moving from power forward to centre in an effort to stifle Sick One. And the Canadian delivered, posting 26 points and 26 rebounds to carry his team to a crucial Game 2 victory (58-73), handing Raptors Uprising its first loss of the tournament and forcing a decisive Game 3 on a west-coast connection.

Part of the 2019 NBA 2K League all-defensive team, Yusuf_Scarbz would continue his strong play in the third and critical game, as Raptors Uprising appeared to have no answer for the Kings Guard Gaming big man on the inside.

Trailing by six heading into the final quarter—and down by as much as 10 at one point—Toronto lingered around and remained resilient. With their backs against the wall, the team from the North would claw their way back into the win-or-go-home game, starting the fourth quarter on a 9-3 run to draw the contest level at 50-50 with 4:03 left to play.

And again, it’d be Raptors Uprising’s defence that would help their team see this one through.

The eventual tournament champions limited Kings Guard Gaming to nine points in the fourth quarter of Game 3, outscoring Sacramento 22-9 in the frame—highlighted by a Timelycook three-point dagger with 17 seconds left on the clock to put Toronto up by five and this contest—against his former team—virtually to bed. Raptors Uprising would see the match out, taking Game 3 (63-56).

No team in NBA 2K League history has accomplished what the 2020 Raptors Uprising have.

In Season 3, Toronto’s already set the NBA 2K League record for most wins to begin a regular season, broke the record for points scored in an individual game (twice), and now the team becomes the first side in NBA 2K League history to win the first two tournament banners of the season after also winning THE TIPOFF in June.

MVP Kenny: Utilizing a variety of unfamiliar player builds thanks to THE TURN’s “Archetype Ban” concept, Kenny Got Work found ways to adapt throughout the tournament. When he wasn’t scoring at will, he’d often turn into a facilitator for his teammates or he’d step it up and make a difference on defence. Thus, averaging 28.8 points, 8.6 assists, and 2.2 steals per game—all below his regular season average—Kenny was named THE TURN Tournament MVP, becoming the first player in league history to be named Tournament MVP twice in the same season after also winning the award at THE TIPOFF.

“I’ve had a great season, so I’m definitely a little mad about my performance,” Kenny Got Work told the NBA 2K League broadcast after the win. “But we’re a team at the end of the day. I feed off of them, they feed off of me, and they stepped up for me—in a big way—and that’s why we’re back-to-back.”

Motivated to bounce back after what he considers to be an off-performance, what’s next for Raptors Uprising’s all-time leading scorer?

UP NEXT: Catch your breath Raptors Uprising fans, because Toronto and Kings Guard Gaming re-exchange pleasantries in Week 11 with tipoff set for 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday July 29. Winners of 24 straight series, Raptors Uprising (13-0) will have the opportunity to further build on their already-historic season as they’re just one win shy of tying Blazer5 Gaming’s record of 14-straight regular-season victories, set in 2019. Sacramento (9-4), who are 0-3 lifetime against the first-place Raptors Uprising, will be out looking for some revenge on Wednesday as they’ll try and put a dent into Toronto’s flawless 2020 campaign. Will they become the first team to be able to?