Raptors Uprising bow out of the 2021 TIPOFF Tournament

TORONTO, Canada—Raptors Uprising GC, NBA 2K League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors, found themselves in some unfamiliar territory Friday night, bowing out in the Group Stage of THE TIPOFF Tournament powered by AT&T.

The defending TIPOFF Tournament champions were upset by Hawks Talon GC in a pair of tight contests, before dropping two more games to Grizz Gaming to close out the evening. For a team with such high expectations after their record-breaking season last year, the final result this go-around was a tough pill to swallow.

“It was obviously a disappointment, embarrassing to go 0-4. We expect better from this team—and we’re going to be better,” said veteran point guard Kenny Got Work postgame. “It’s a wakeup call. It’s still early, but we have to start the regular season off right. We’re still 0-0.”

2021 11th-overall pick Ceez had himself a night to remember in his NBA 2K League debut handling the rock for Atlanta, combining for 57 points and 18 assists in their two wins over Toronto. He started in place of 2020 MVP candidate BP to the surprise of many, and did not disappoint.

BOX SCORE vs Hawks Talon GC: GAME 1 | GAME 2

Vandi, meanwhile, was the difference maker for Grizz Gaming, scoring an eye-popping 83 points across their two games, as Raptors Uprising simply had no answer for the Memphis point guard.

BOX SCORE vs Grizz Gaming: GAME 1 | GAME 2

“We may have to mess around with the lineup, maybe have a few tweaks and find out what’s best for us,” said Kenny Got Work, acknowledging that there’s still lots of basketball to be played this year. “We’re going to have to do a lot of scrimmaging though; it’s still early, and we’re just about to work harder and hop in the lab.”

One of the few bright spots for Raptors Uprising on the night was the play of new centre Type, who made his debut for Toronto after being acquired via trade in the offseason. In Friday night’s four games, the do-it-all big man showed promise filling the stat sheet, averaging 14.5 points and 11.5 rebounds on an impressive 77.8 per cent shooting from the floor.

“Yeah, I feel like Type played well. He’s going to be pivotal for us going forward,” said Kenny Got Work. “When he was able to make plays on defence, he showed up for us. He’s going to be that spark that drives us, and we’re going to turn this thing around.

“We just need to work on our defence. That’s usually something we pride ourselves on, but as you can see, it was terrible, so we’ve got work to do.”

As mentioned off the jump, the adversity is a bit of unchartered territory for a team that’s been so used to winning of late. In 2020, Raptors Uprising dropped back-to-back games on just one occasion: in the semifinals of the NBA 2K League playoffs.

While the new game and player builds will certainly bring some growing pains as players adjust to the new meta, the reigning MVP is looking forward to what the rest of the year has in store for this talented Raptors Uprising team as they get more and more accustomed to the league build.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Kenny. “There’s going to be a lot of highlights, a lot of high scoring, we just have to tweak our defence, get out in transition and get back to playing Raptors Uprising basketball.”

The team will have a full week to refuel and regroup as they’ll open their 2021 regular season with a marquee matchup against the defending NBA 2K League champions Wizards DG on Friday, May 28. A win would quickly put the early disappointment of THE TIPOFF in the rear view and get their season started on the right note.

“The little that I saw because I really didn’t watch too much of them, I’ve seen a couple of highlights, and it looks like they picked up where they left off,” said Kenny Got Work. “I’m definitely looking forward to it, but we’ve got to work on this defence if we’re going to beat anybody. It’s definitely going to be a big matchup for us.”

It’s only up from here, Raptors Uprising fans.

THE TIPOFF Tournament powered by AT&T continues this weekend with the quarter-finals taking place on Saturday before concluding with the semis and finals on Sunday. Fans can tune in and catch the rest of the tournament on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch or YouTube channels.