Knicks Gaming heartbreakingly dropped the ball on Wednesday night in the group stage of The Tipoff tournament, barely seeing elimination cut them off from continuing to compete.
The NBA 2K League’s first in-season tournament, The Tipoff, kicked off this Tuesday with a prize pool of $160,000. The stakes were high for Knicks Gaming, as the team just surpassed the .500 mark, and the opportunity to show that the young, revamped team is a legitimate threat this season was all out on the table. All 2K League teams were put into groups of three and would play the other teams twice, with the best record of the pool advancing the the quarterfinals round. Knicks Gaming was placed with Heat Check Gaming and Bucks Gaming, two underachieving esports squads.
The Knicks faced off first against Heat Check Gaming. The Knicks showed off the best of their abilities as they stomped the Heat in back-to-back wins. Knicks Gaming won the first game 89-64 in a bout that was never even close. Point guard Duck decimated the Heat’s defense, putting up 39 points and seven assists, and shooting guard OriginalMalik had a fantastic game himself, scoring 28 points with six assists.
— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) June 17, 2020
In game two, the Knicks won 88-73 as Malik exploded with 36 points, five assists, and six steals, draining eight three-pointers. The Knicks’ backcourt looked like superstars against the Heat, as Malik is the scoring threat from deep and Duck is the dynamic playmaker in the paint. When these two are on, it’s an incredible duo. Heat Check Gaming had no defensive answers for the two Knicks guards, and without a proper plan or execution these two will stomp any team they face.
Sadly, however, Bucks Gaming came prepared.
Knicks Gaming just needed one win to advance beyond the group stage, as Bucks Gaming and Heat Check Gaming split their head-to-head series 1-1, and Knicks Gaming were 2-0. Bucks Gaming came into their matchup against the Knicks seriously prepared. Duck and Malik still had high scoring games, but the Bucks answered their scoring with high caliber scoring of their own.
Bucks point guard Regg put up 41 points and 14 assists as the Knicks defense showed their inability to rotate on that end of the floor and defend transition offensive plays. The Knicks lost the first game 89-79, leaving their Tipoff destiny hinging on one final game.
— KnicksGaming (@KnicksGaming) June 18, 2020
Game 2 was difficult to watch. The Bucks had Duck figured out and seriously limited his ability to produce any offense. They clogged passing lanes, and rotated quickly on defense, and made the Knicks look sloppy with the ball. Duck finished shooting 9-of-25 from the field with 21 points and four assists and three turnovers. Malik didn’t have much of an impact, scoring just nine points and fumbling the ball three times.
Center CantGuardRob had a nice game with 12 points, 19 rebounds, and seven assists, but there just wasn’t enough offense to win this game. The Knicks lost 66-61, and were eliminated from The Tipoff tournament.
The Knicks continue to look inferior when they play against teams with formidable defenses. It is fun to watch the Knicks stomp teams below them, but eventually they should develop an offensive and defensive answer to play better against the upper-tier teams.