It’s win-or-go-home time for Toronto’s Raptors Uprising GC in the NBA 2K League as the 2019 regular season winds down.
On Wednesday, Raptors Uprising will play host to the last-place Pistons GT before taking on the 17th-place Heat Check Gaming in what can only be described as a must-win double-header for Toronto in Week 11.
The team from the North currently sits on the outside looking in: two games back of the seventh-and-final playoff spot with only three games left to play. But there is some silver lining in the 6ix, as after a difficult strength of schedule to begin the season, Toronto will play three teams who are well below them in the standings to close out the year.
— Raptors Uprising GC (@RaptorsGC) July 5, 2019
Up first, Raptors Uprising (6-7) will take on 2019 first-round pick Doza’s former side Pistons GT (1-12) for the second time this season, as Toronto got the better of Detroit 56-47 at The Turn. On that day, Doza extracted some revenge on some of his former teammates, putting up a game-high 18 points for Raptors Uprising.
The ever-talented point guard has had an up-and-down year in his first go-around with Toronto, averaging 10.6 points and 6.1 assists in nine regular-season games. With that said, teams playing Raptors Uprising know they always have to be wary of where the Virginia-native is on the court at all times, as it only takes a second for him to burn you.
“Doza’s a very talented player,” said Raptors Uprising Coach Ognjen Micic. “Everyone on the team describes him as a ‘walking bucket’. He remains positive no matter what. You need that mentality in this league. Off the court, he brings our team together. Overall, he’s just a great guy to be around.”
Pistons GT, meanwhile, certainly miss their former player, as the team from Detroit has had a second season they’ll want to forget. After finishing with the third-best regular-season record a year ago, Pistons GT are currently in the midst of a league-worst 11-game losing streak with no real light at the end of the tunnel.
They do have some pieces that are capable of scorching you on their day, like 2019 first-round pick DevGoss or centre May, so Raptors Uprising do need to be wary of their Motown foes.
Key Matchup: If Toronto elects to roll with Doza at point guard, he’ll be going head-to-head with rookie DevGoss — who was acquired mid-season from Hawks Talon GC. These two point guards are both 2019 first-round picks, however, Doza has the edge in terms of experience having spent last season with Pistons GT while this is DevGoss’ first year in the league. Expect Doza to come out firing against his old team, but don’t sleep on the rookie, who is averaging 13.5 points and 3.5 assists in 13 regular-season games split between Pistons GT and Hawks Talon GC.
Where To Watch: Tune in live to Twitch.tv/RaptorsGC at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday July 10 to catch Raptors Uprising in action as they’ll look to get the better of the last-place Pistons GT.
And then, Raptors Uprising will turn their attention to the tougher of their two Wednesday night matchups when they take on Hotshot and his Heat Check Gaming (4-8) side.
Toronto knows all about getting by Heat Check Gaming in pressure-filled games, as the team from the North clinched a playoff spot in their last contest of the season against Miami (81-73) in win-or-go-home fashion a year ago.
Back in the 6ix and ready to make something happen
— Kenneth Hailey (@KennyGotWork) July 8, 2019
Although on that day MVP-candidate Hotshot finished with 35 points using the powerful shot-creating slasher archetype, Kenny Got Work and the rest of Raptors Uprising weren’t backing down, as the versatile second-year pro poured in 34 points and nine assists, while KingQuai614 dominated down low to the tune of 21 points and eight rebounds en route to the massive victory.
This season, Hotshot has moved to the post for Heat Check Gaming where he’s continued his strong play. In 12 games this season, the 2018 seventh-overall pick is averaging 15.6 points to go along with 13.2 rebounds as Miami are one of the best rebounding teams in the league.
“Communication on defense is going to be key in this one,” said Coach Ogi prior to the game. “If they bring out Hotshot on a post-scorer, we need to make sure we control the glass and the pace of the game.”
While both teams boast some returning pieces that played in last year’s tilt, these are two drastically different looking sides entering Wednesday’s Week 11 matchup.
For Toronto, their main addition comes at centre where Sick x 973 has adapted seamlessly with his new roster since arriving via trade from Cavs Legion GC prior to Week 5. He leads all Raptors Uprising players in scoring, averaging 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 14 games split between Toronto and Cleveland.
Miami, meanwhile, have made two notable additions via trade this season, acquiring Hood and MOAM. Toronto is certainly familiar with former Cavs Legion and T-Wolves Gaming star Hood, while MOAM — who lined up at point guard for his debut with Heat Check Gaming in Week 9 — also has to have Toronto wary after coming over from Jazz Gaming.
Despite entering the game riding a six-game losing streak, Heat Check Gaming possess a lot of talent, which is why Coach Ogi understands the significance of getting off to a good start.
“We need to start strong and try to get four solid quarters,” emphasized Coach Ogi. “There have been times this season that we put ourselves down double digits early in games and it was too tough to come back.
“I have said it before. We can only control what we can control. Our only focus is going to be on these last three games.”
Key Matchup: It’ll be up to the Raptors Uprising frontcourt — Sick x 973 and KingQuai614 — to contain Heat Check Gaming star Hotshot, as the inaugural seventh-overall pick has been one of the more dominant big men down low this season. In addition to his scoring threat, the Heat Check Gaming post-player is an imposing rebounder and prolific playmaker. Raptors Uprising, who have room to improve on the glass, will need to ensure that they put in a strong rebounding effort if they want to limit Miami’s second-chance opportunities. Keep a close eye on the frontcourt in this one.
Where to Watch: Tune in live to Twitch.tv/RaptorsGC at 7 p.m. EST to see if Raptors Uprising can overcome Heat Check Gaming and keep their playoff hopes alive.