Milwaukee Bucks Gaming advance to The Tip-Off tournament quarter finals

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04: (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04: (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Bucks Gaming, the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2K League affiliate, advanced to the quarter finals of the Tip-Off tournament following a 3-1 run through group play.

After rejuvenating their season with a couple of strong wins in regular season play last week, Bucks Gaming continued to build up some real momentum as they got their first taste of tournament play in 2020 on Wednesday night.

The Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA 2K League affiliate moved back to .500 in the standings with a flawless gameweek last week, which was good timing to boost their confidence ahead of The Tip-Off tournament.

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With $70,000 up for grabs for the winner in this particular play-in tournament, The Tip-Off consists of group play, followed by best of three series until a winner is found from the remaining eight teams who qualify from those groups.

For the Bucks, that format saw them paired with Heat Check Gaming and Knicks Gaming in a three team pool in group play. As a result, Milwaukee was in for a very busy night on Wednesday, with two games to be played against each to decide a group winner.

When the Bucks got off to a losing start with an 81-69 defeat to Heat Check Gaming in their opener, the path to the final eight looked increasingly difficult for Milwaukee right from the jump.

Thankfully for the Bucks, with the adjustments they made last week really looking to have changed the dynamics of their season, the best was still yet to come from Wednesday’s final three games.

Returning for a second outing against the Heat, knowing a win was essential, the Bucks produced an emphatic response driven by monumental efforts from two players in particular.

Regg has left no doubt as to his credentials as one of the most impactful rookies in the league to this point in the season, and he only built on that further by pouring in 53 points to go alongside six assists in the second clash of the night with the Heat.

Perhaps even more important for the Bucks, Plondo produced a masterclass from the center spot. Thriving since pivoting back to the 5 following Milwaukee’s adjustments last week, Plondo delivered a dazzling triple-double in the form of 12 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 assists.

With 17 points added by Arooks, 12 more from Ty, and Squidris doing the dirty work with six rebounds and six steals, the Bucks prevailing as 94-68 winners was no real surprise.

That win left the Bucks in control of their own destiny. Having completed a sweep of the Knicks in their recent regular season series, Milwaukee knew a repeat of that would see them advance into the tournament rounds.

A confident 89-79 victory in that first game set up a high pressure decider, and at times in their final game of the night, there was little doubt that the Bucks looked to be feeling the heat a little. Exemplifying that, Regg had seven turnovers in the first quarter alone.

Trailing by eight points early in the second half, the Bucks certainly left themselves with work to do, but would prove to be up to that challenge.

A strong third quarter saw the Bucks take back the initiative somewhat, with a buzzer beater from Ty meaning Milwaukee would take a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.

From there, Milwaukee closed it out. Regg led the charge with 28 points and nine assists, and crucially only had a single turnover in the final three quarters, while Plondo chipped in with a double-double from the frontcourt.

Making the knockout rounds of The Tip-Off is a big achievement for the Bucks given how grim things looked just a couple of weeks ago. Having said that, their reward for that feat could prove to be punishing as the league best Raptors GC lie in wait for Thursday’s quarter finals.

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If the Bucks can find a way to win two of three against Toronto, they can begin to believe that anything is possible. It all makes for a must-watch matchup on Thursday night.