TORONTO, Canada—Just four days since squaring off in a back-and-forth nailbiter, Raptors Uprising GC and Kings Guard Gaming will go head-to-head once again Wednesday evening in Week 11 NBA 2K League regular season action.
Fresh off winning the $260,000 THE TURN Tournament, the undefeated Raptors Uprising (13-0) will look for their 14th-straight regular season victory, entering the west-coast matchup defeating their opponents by an average of 19.7 points per game.
But if this matchup is anything like Saturday—a nail biting (2-1 series) win for Toronto over Kings Guard in the semifinals THE TURN—a victory won’t come easy. On that day, Sacramento became the first and only team in THE TURN tournament to push Raptors Uprising to a third and decisive game, carrying a lead into the fourth quarter, before the team from the North would rally back, eventually eliminating Kings Guard en route to capturing their second banner of the year.
It’s worth noting that last Saturday’s contest was with the added “archetype ban” rule, however, exclusively implemented during THE TURN tournament. Earlier in the year—and with all league archetypes available as per norm—Raptors Uprising triumphed past Sacramento in the finals of THE TIPOFF: a commanding 2-0 series sweep in which Toronto won each game by an average of 25.5 points.
Despite being 0-2 against the unbeaten Raptors Uprising this season, Kings Guard Gaming (10-4) are still having one of the better years overall in the NBA 2K League. In addition to making it to the finals of THE TIPOFF and semifinals of THE TURN, their side currently sits fifth in the regular season standings and a win on Wednesday against Toronto would actually clinch Sacramento a spot in the 2020 playoffs.
Season 1 Raptors Uprising alumni Yusuf_Scarbz has been a major part of his team’s success. Following a quiet 0-point, three-rebound performance in Game 1 against his former squad and hometown team, the Season 2 NBA 2K League all-defensive team power forward shifted to centre in an effort to provide a spark for Kings Guard Gaming. It appeared to work as the Toronto native would finish the series averaging 23 points and 19.5 rebounds. With no real answer for Yusuf_Scarbz last time out, expect to see the Canadian line up at the centre spot once again on Wednesday.
In addition to Yusuf, Kings Guard Gaming are led by rookies Bash and Crush in their backcourt. The high-scoring Bash enters Week 11 averaging 25 points and seven assists, while lockdown defender Crush, the 2020 third-overall pick, is third in the league in steals per game (3.0).
Raptors Uprising, meanwhile, will counter with the best backcourt duo in the league in Kenny Got Work and Timelycook. Kenny, the three-time Player of the Week, one-time Player of the Month, and two-time Tournament MVP is top 5 in steals per game, assists per game, and points per game, while Timely leads the league in steals and is second in three-point percentage.
For Timelycook in particular, Satuday’s matchup against Kings GG will be particularly special as he’ll be squaring off against his former team for the third time since joining Raptors Uprising this offseason. Having played for Sacramento in Season 1, missing out on Season 2 due to suspension, Timely was eventually drafted by Toronto in Season 3 in the first round (11th overall). He owns a 2-0 record against his ex-compatriots, highlighted by knocking down a three-point dagger to secure Saturday’s win for his side.
While he has had his former team’s number so far, the candidate for Season 3 Defensive Player of the Year says he’s preparing for Wednesday’s game just like every other.
“We’re approaching this matchup like it’s just another game on the schedule,” said Timelycook. “We’re going to go out there and play Raptors Uprising basketball.”
With a win, Raptors Uprising will tie Blazer5 Gaming’s record of 14 consecutive regular-season victories set in 2019 and the NBA 2K League record for most wins in a single season.
Including Wednesday’s game, there are only three matchups left for Toronto in the regular season. Having won virtually everything they could win so far, Raptors Uprising will look to keep their eye on the prize and finish the year off strong.
“I don’t think this Raptors Uprising team is going to get complacent,” said Timelycook. “We know what we’re playing for, and it’s not a time to get comfortable: we know teams are hungry to beat us, so we need to stay on top of our game.”
Key Matchup to Watch: Yusuf_Scarbz vs Legit 973 – The turning point of the Raptors Uprising-Kings Guard Gaming series on Saturday in THE TURN Tournament semifinals came following Game 1 when Sacramento elected to shift Season 2 NBA 2K League all-defensive team power forward Yusuf_Scarbz to the centre spot. Toronto appeared to have no answer for the former Raptors Uprising player as the Toronto native would go on to have an absurd 26-point, 26-rebound performance. One adjustment the first-place Raptors Uprising did make, however, was having power forward Legit 973 guard the pick-and-roll. It provided a different look as the team needed stops. It’s worth noting that the rookie’s “Glass-Cleaner” archetype was banned in that series by Sacramento, and with no ban in the regular season, expect the battle inside to be a lot more crowded and a lot more competitive.
Stat to Watch: 11.0 – Heading into Wednesday, Raptors Uprising hold an overall record of 4-1 over Kings Guard Gaming this season in five series games played. Over that span, Toronto has outscored Sacramento by an average of 11 points per contest. Kings GG reduced that margin of victory by a significant amount at THE TURN, but with no “archetype bans” this time around, will they be able to narrow that number down even further or will Raptors Uprising set the record straight?
How to Watch: Fans can watch Raptors Uprising play Kings Guard Gaming in its entirety via the Twitch Command Center, which is available on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch channel. The matchup will also be available on Sportsnet and ESPN’s digital platforms, plus streamed on the league’s YouTube channel. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST. Will it be another Raptors Uprising party or will Kings Guard Gaming be able to dethrone the two-time tournament champs?