Finals: 76ers GC 75, Blazer5 Gaming 65
Heading into the finals as the only undefeated team in the NBA 2K League, Blazer5 met 76ers GC in a rematch of group play. In the first game, Blazer5 cruised to an 81-68 victory. The finals were a different story. A strong first half for Philadelphia was erased in the third quarter but Portland was never able to take a lead.
76ers GC started off crazy hot. Through contributions of star PG Radiant, C Steez and SG ZDS, it was all Philadelphia in the first quarter. By the first break, the score was 23-10.
The second quarter started off with more of the same. At one point the score was 32-10. Portland never gave up, going on a run to end the half and close it to a manageable 14-point deficit at halftime.
Just like in the semifinals against Cavs Legion GC, halftime adjustments were key for Blazer5. The third quarter saw a couple big runs from Portland and stingy defense that held Philadelphia to only seven points in the quarter. Off of clutch buckets from Dat Man and GRANT MONSTER, the score was 50-50 heading into the final six minutes.
Portland had at least three possessions where they could have taken the lead in the fourth but were unable to capitalize. The game was tied a couple of times but Blazer5 never led in the contest. In the third quarter, Portland did a great job of shutting down Philadelphia’s shooters, but 76ers GC adapted.
The absolute steal of the draft was 76ers SG ZDS. The 89th pick of the draft, ZDS had a game worthy of a first rounder in the finals with 19 points. Add in Radiant’s 17 points, 14 assists and 7 steals and Philadelphia’s backcourt had arguably their best game of the season.
For Portland, Mama Im Dat Man had a stellar game with 17 points and 14 assists. Walnut had another double-double with 12 and 12 but was largely contained by Steez on the inside. The deficit required role players Lavish_Phenom and GRANT MONSTER to step up. Lavish answered the call with his Blazer5 high of 11 points. GRANT stepped up as well with eight points on 3/3 shooting.
The key point in this game was Radiant’s defense on Dat Man. His seven steals were the deciding factor in a game that was closer than the score suggests.
The regular season starts next week and Portland will look to carry its strong performance in the Tip-Off Tournament into the season. It will be a long flight back to the West Coast for the team, but they have nothing to be ashamed of as their initial run established them as one of the premier teams in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League.
Semifinals: Blazer5 Gaming 69, Cavs Legion 64
The semis pitted the Blazer Big Three of Dat Man, Walnut and Shotz against Cavs Legion GC’s star point-forward Hood. Coming into the contest averaging 38+ points over four games, Blazer5 held Hood way below his season average.
Without a pure rim protector, Cavs Legion had no answer for Walnut down low. The big man finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds on 12/15 shooting.
Through the first half of this game, Portland found itself in an unusual position: losing. Cleveland held a lead as large as nine and stayed on top the whole half. Consistent play down low from Dat Man and Walnut helped keep the game close going into halftime.
At the break, Blazer5 adjusted their defense significantly. Instead of helping on Hood, the team focused on locking down the rest of the shooters. Cleveland wasn’t prepared for the change in strategy, and Portland jumped out to a solid lead on the back of a 21-8 third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Cavs Legion GC stuck around, bringing the game within three with a minute left. That’s when GRANT MONSTER hit the biggest shot of his 2K career so far. Off a pass from the corner, the pure sharpshooter pulled up from 40 feet, nearly on the Blazer pinwheel. It was his first shot of the game and also the dagger that sent Portland to the finals.
Quarterfinals: Blazer5 Gaming 66, Pacers Gaming 46
The only undefeated team in group play; Blazer5 Gaming continued that momentum into the first game of the playoffs with a 20-point win over Pacers Gaming.
The game started with a three pointer by Indiana, but that was Pacers Gaming’s only lead of the game. Portland answered back with a 12-0 run and Indiana never brought it back within one possession.
Blazer5 was led in scoring by DatBoyShotz with 22, but the team truly stood out on the defensive end. Through Indiana’s four games on Friday, the team was averaging 63 points per game. Blazer5 came in with a game plan and executed it, never allowing Pacers Gaming to get in a rhythm.
Blazer5 dominated on the boards as the team doubled Pacers Gaming in rebounds, 35-17. Much like on Thursday, it was the frontcourt of Blazer5 that set the tone. Both DatBoyShotz and OneWildWalnut finished with double-doubles.