TORONTO — Raptors Uprising GC ran its win streak to 12 and clinched a playoff berth Thursday, holding off the Gen.G Tigers in an international matchup in NBA 2K League play.
Toronto (12-0) cruised to a 101-62 win in Game 1 but went cold in Game 2 and lost 76-72. Despite some remote-play technical problems in the rubber match, normal service resumed as the Raptors thumped expansion Gen.G (5-7) 106-53 to win the best-of-three esports series.
It marks the fastest a team has clinched a playoff berth in the league's three-year history.
The victory was worth US$2,500 for the Toronto team, which made the playoffs in the league's inaugural 2018 season but missed out last year.
Toronto is 24-4 in regular-season play this season with only Wizards District Gaming, Hornet Venom GT, Blazer5 Gaming and Gen.G forcing a third game in the series. Gen.G also pushed the Raptors to a third game in the semifinals of the US$160,000 Tipoff Tournament won by Toronto last month.
The Raptors, who have four games remaining in the regular season, face Pacers Gaming next on July 16.
Toronto, which has already erased the league record for consecutive wins to start a season (10 by Mavs Gaming last year), is now just two victories from tying Blazer5 Gaming's record for longest regular-season win streak of 14, set during the 2019 season.
T-Wolves Gaming reeled off 12 consecutive victories last year over the regular season and playoffs.
Regular-season games were one-off contests in the league's first two seasons before switching to best of-three series in remote play this year.
Star point guard Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey hit his first five shots, including four three-pointers, in Game 3 to lead the way for Toronto in a first quarter interrupted by a technical delay in remote play.
Once the game resumed, Toronto kept rolling and built up a lead. Another technical glitch prompted a delay in play before the Raptors closed it out.
Hailey finished with 50 points on 20-of-23 shooting, making 10-of-11 three-point tries. Lockdown defender Trent (Timelycook) Donald added 29 points for Toronto on 10-of-10 shooting with seven three-pointers.
Hailey had 29 points and 11 assists in Game 1 while Donald, who had hit all 10 of his shots going into the fourth quarter, finished with 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting. Centre Jerry (Sick One) Knapp finished with 20 points and 15 assists.
Centre Mercedes (Deadeye) Williamson had 22 points to lead Gen.G, which had 22 turnovers.
Hailey led Toronto in Game 2 with 23 points and 11 assists. Tigers point guard Dhwan (ShiftyKaii) White, the fifth pick in the February draft, led all scorers with 44 points.
Toronto led 27-11 after the first quarter of Game 1, pulling ahead in the second quarter to lead 51-28. Hailey and Donald each had 15 points in the half, hitting on a combined 12-of-14 shots.
The lead grew to 43 at 81-38 after a third quarter that saw Toronto outscore Gen.G 30-10.
Game 2 started closer with Toronto lead 20-19 after the first quarter. White accounted for 15 of his team's points.
The Tigers led 41-37 at the half, opening the third with a 6-0 run and increasing the lead to 64-50 at the end of the third — outscoring Toronto 23-13 in a quarter normally dominated by the Raptors. White had 29 points for the Tigers going into the fourth.
Toronto cut the lead to 75-70 with 21.5 seconds remaining but it was too little too late.
The Tigers are the NBA 2K League's first non-NBA affiliated franchise and international team.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2020.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press