Sick x 973’s last-second dunk helped Toronto’s Raptors Uprising GC complete a thrilling come-from-behind victory (50-48) over the fourth-seeded Celtics Crossover Gaming to move on to the quarterfinals at The Ticket tournament in Orlando, Florida.
Down ten points heading into the fourth quarter, a team effort fuelled a fourth-quarter comeback that saw Raptors Uprising outscore Celtics Crossover 22-10 in the final frame, but it was the last real offensive possession of the game that stole the show for Toronto Friday night.
With 19 seconds left on the clock and the ball in their hands after clawing back to tie the game, Raptors Uprising called a timeout where Coach Ognjen Micic had an opportunity to chat with his side.
“It was a tie game at 48,” recalled Coach Ogi after the game. “I wanted us to take the last shot no matter what. We didn’t take advantage of the pick-and-roll for most of the game, so I just told my guys [Kenny Got Work and Sick x 973] to work the screen; we just knew something was going to open up.”
"This is what we're doing and sticking to it!"@Sick_x_973 is HYPE after @RaptorsGC advanced to the next round! He caught up with @autumnjohnsontv after the win.#IntelPerformanceAwards pic.twitter.com/K6IzwG3Hr4
— NBA 2K League (@NBA2KLeague) June 15, 2019
It ended up being Sick x 973 under the basket that opened up, as the big man finished emphatically with a clutch dunk with 3.2 seconds left on the clock after Kenny Got Work found his teammate off the screen-and-roll for his seventh assist of the night — right before the Celtics Crossover Gaming defence could close down.
“Being down 10 points going into the fourth quarter, we didn’t give up,” said Coach Ogi. “I’m proud of my guys. Let’s enjoy the win because it’s onto the next round.”
Aside from the dunk at the end, Sick x 973’s all-around play was a significant reason for Raptors Uprising sticking around in this one, as the centre was consistent yet again for the side from the 6ix. The former Cavs Legion GC star finished with a team-high 17 points on an effective eight-of-10 shooting from the floor, to go along with 10 rebounds for yet another double-double on the season.
“I love what [Sick x 973] does on the sharpshooting rebounder archetype,” said Coach Ogi after the win. “He’s the ultimate team player. I have a team full of unselfish players and they gave everything they had to pull out the win.”
Stay locked in. On to the Quarters. #RTZ2K
— Raptors Uprising GC (@RaptorsGC) June 15, 2019
2019 first-round pick Doza — who missed the last two games — was also able to check back in for his Raptors Uprising debut at small forward in the win-or-go-home game, as Coach Ogi talked about his decision to reinsert an out of rhythm Doza back into the Toronto lineup.
“It’s all about matchups,” explained Coach Ogi. “OOC Slim played well for us and helped us pull out the win against Lakers Gaming. On the defensive end, however, you always have to keep an eye on Doza because he’s like a microwave. He can heat up at any time, and even when he’s not scoring, he still stretches the floor for us.”
Doza, like the rest of his teammates, battled through some early adversity throughout the game to hit some big shots for Toronto down the stretch en route to finishing with 10 points on three-of-six shooting from the field using a shot-creating sharpshooter archetype.
Meanwhile, Boston’s point guard oFab — who entered Friday’s game averaging 22.5 points and a league-leading 13.0 assists — was the lone bright spot for Celtics Crossover offensively, although, he was limited to just 17 points and six assists to go along with five turnovers thanks to terrific shutdown defense by pure lockdown defender TsJosh, with the help from big men KingQuai614 and Sick x 973.
The two Raptors Uprising players in the frontcourt found themselves taking turns guarding the pick-and-roll, often switching off on sharpshooter Profusion, who ended up being limited to just 12 points on four-of-10 shooting from the field after entering the contest averaging 16.1 points per game.
And with the win, Raptors Uprising (5-6) moved one step closer to earning a berth in the NBA 2K League Playoffs, as the winner of the The Ticket will earn automatic entry into the post-season as the eighth seed, in addition to taking home a portion of a $180,000 USD prize pool.
In the quarterfinals, Toronto will take on — wait for it — Warriors Gaming Squad (7-4), as the fifth-seeded Golden State managed to hold off T-Wolves Gaming (58-52) in their own round of 16 matchup on Friday.
Small forward BSmoove leads the way offensively for the strong side from Golden State. The second-year pro finished with 13 points in the win over T-Wolves Gaming and enters the tournament averaging a team-high 19.0 points in his second season with the team from the Bay Area.
Warriors Gaming Squad are having one of the better seasons around the league, as they currently sit in third place in the NBA 2K League regular-season standings and are enter The Ticket as the reigning tournament champions: winning the second tournament of the year, The Turn, last month.
“In order to get past Warriors Gaming Squad, we need to control the tempo and defend in a way that keeps them out of their comfort zone,” said Coach Ogi. “It’s easier said than done, but I know what we’re capable of. Making the necessary adjustments, depending on how the game is playing out, is going to be key.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Chiquitae126 — the only female player in the NBA 2K League — is also a part of the Warriors Gaming Squad’s roster. However, the talented 2019 fourth-round pick isn’t expected to feature in this one.
The winners of Saturday afternoon’s contest will advance to the semi-finals at 6 p.m. ET where they’ll play the winners of the always entertaining battle of Florida: Magic Gaming or Heat Check Gaming. 76ers GC, Pacers Gaming, Knicks Gaming, and Cavs Legion GC are the other teams left battling it out on the other side of the bracket.
Key Matchup: We’ll turn to “the battle of the bigs” as the key matchup to look out for in this one, as these are two teams that possess some of the better frontcourt players in the league. Raptors Uprising boast a formidable duo of Sick x 973 at center and KingQuai614 at power forward as the two players pride themselves on cleaning up the glass. They sure can score too, evidenced by Sick x 973’s team-leading 17.5 points per game. They’re likely to be matched up against Lakers Gaming big men, Jin and Type, who the team from L.A. can count on to generally make an impact on the game, so make sure you keep a close eye on the frontcourt battle on this one.
Where to Watch: Tune in live at 4 p.m. ET at Twitch.tv/RaptorsGC to see if your thirteenth-seeded Raptors Uprising can continue their run at The Ticket and get past the fifth-seeded Warriors Gaming Squad to move one step closer to securing a berth in the 2019 NBA 2K League Playoffs.
— NBA 2K League (@NBA2KLeague) June 15, 2019