Technical difficulties weren’t the only thing to plague Bucks Gaming, the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2K League affiliate, Wednesday night as they were swept by Warriors Gaming.
Coming off such a thrilling comeback series victory over Jazz Gaming last time out, Bucks Gaming knew more tests loomed on the horizon.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ 2K League affiliate entered Week 10 of the 2020 2K League season with a 6-5 record and on the right side of the playoff bracket. The series win over the then-second best team in the league last Thursday proved to be a showcase in resiliency and certainly showed off the strengths of the squad, headlined by their do-it-all rookie star, Regg.
On such a high, Bucks Gaming knew they would have to dial it back in when facing up against a surging Warriors Gaming squad, who entered the night with a 9-3 record and as winners of their last three series.
Dialed in couldn’t have been more descriptive of the Bucks’ performance when the game got underway as their trademark aggressive defense helped them get easy buckets and pushed the Warriors back on their heels immediately.
Holding such an advantage over the Warriors almost from the jump, the Bucks’ scorching start was eventually derailed by a lag out on the Warriors’ end, forcing a minimal delay midway through the second quarter. As fate would have it, the break served to be the recalibration the Warriors’ needed to get back within three of Bucks Gaming at halftime, trailing 48-45.
The thrills only picked up from there as the Bucks and the Warriors battled back and forth all throughout the second half.
All night long, the Bucks struggled to slow down the hot shooting for Warriors swingman BSmoove from long range, who eventually led the Warriors with 22 points on 6-of-7 shooting from deep for Game 1, and supplied 14 of the Warriors’ 26 threes over the course of the series.
On the other side, though, Regg had no problem repeatedly getting into the heart of the Warriors’ interior defense before finishing with a team-leading 38 points on 26 shots in the series opening tilt.
With both offenses running on all cylinders down the stretch, it was the Bucks who looked to be in the driver’s seat as they held as large as an eight-point lead with just under two minutes remaining of Game 1.
But the Warriors continued to press on and take advantage of the Bucks’ aggressive defending on the perimeter and out of the pick-and-roll by hitting triples. Back-to-back misses and a costly illegal screen led to the Bucks relinquishing their once-comfortable lead in a blink of an eye following what ended up being a 10-0 run from the Warriors.
Suddenly, after miraculously forcing a turnover to gain possession of the ball, the Bucks held the last shot with three seconds remaining, trailing 74-73. With the ball instantly going to Regg and the Warriors immediately trapping him, the Bucks’ lead ball handler dished it out to veteran Bucks sharpshooter, ARooks, who floated up an open look that failed to fall in the hoop and led to a heartbreaking narrow defeat as a result.
Just as was the case to start the series, the Bucks appeared ready to give the Warriors a challenge in Game 2, though they could do nothing to cool off the Warriors’ lethal 3-point shooting again early on.
In what was initially a plucky affair to open up Game 2, a slew of turnovers completely threw the Bucks off track as the Warriors subsequently capitalized on said miscues. Just as the Bucks fell down to trail by double digits late in the period, another lag out occurred and led to another delay for the second straight game.
That effectively knocked the wind out of the Bucks’ collective sails as the Warriors had no problem running away with a 79-53 Game 2 victory, which helped them vault up to a 10-3 record and to the fourth seed in the league. The Bucks, meanwhile, fell back down to .500 at 6-6 and are 12th in the standings, meaning they’re out of the playoff race as it stands following the sweep.
And thus, the Bucks’ up-and-down 2K League campaign continues to roll on after this latest loss. On their best night, the Bucks have proven that they can hang with some of the best and most formidable squads throughout the league, especially with a rising star in Regg and a rock solid supporting cast. But maintaining their consistency has been their biggest hurdle in their aspirations to become at minimum, a playoff contender.
Now, with yet another stiff test in a 9-3 Kings Guard Gaming squad that will tip off at 8 p.m. Thursday night, the Bucks will have to quickly regroup, go against yet another strong foe and muster up a critical victory to keep those playoff hopes alive.