Magic Gaming sweeps way to first win, NBA 2K League presents glimpses of the future

Magic Gaming got its first win of the NBA 2K League season with an impressive sweep of Bucks Gaming as the 2K League tipped off.

In one way, the first part of the NBA 2K League’s broadcast of Day 2 of its season was frustrating.

With two games going on at the same time the broadcast stuck with the matchup between Heat Gaming and Pacers Gaming. Leaving fans for both Magic Gaming and Bucks Gaming in the dark as their teams battled through the first of their best-of-three series.

That struggle mirrored how Magic Gaming came out in the second half.

Star point guard and defending Rookie of the Year Reizey struggled to get the Magic into their offense. Turnovers hurt the team as he could not get the team’s pick and roll going. Bucks Gaming was able to get out in transition and beat up Magic Gaming’s defense.

The Magic trailed by 10 and seemed to be in trouble.

But like fans waiting for the second game to air, Reizey started heating up in the second half. He hit a couple of threes before halftime to draw Magic Gaming in closer. And then took over the second half.

Reizey totaled 50 points in the two-game series, scoring 30 in the second game after dishing out assists to help Magic Gaming total 13 3-pointers in the first game. Magic Gaming won the first game with its outside shooting. It won the second game on the strength of its pick and roll.

It added up to the first win of the NBA 2K League season for Magic Gaming. And a strong showing of how potent the team’s offense can be — both as a 3-point shooting team and as a pick-and-roll dominant team. And also a showing of how their defense can keep them in games when called upon.

Magic Gaming was knocking on the door in the playoffs for the first two seasons in the NBA 2K League. With a veteran team and a clearer vision of their strategy, they seem poised to break through this year. But there is obviously a lot of work still to do and a long season ahead.

The team showed some solid poise and adjustments while playing remotely. Judging by the broadcast on ESPN3 and Twitch, the players were playing from their individual rooms rather than in one central location.

Magic Gaming returns to action Friday night at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN3 and Twitch in the lone game in the late window of games in the night’s 2K League action.

The broadcast itself should get some special interest. It was unique to see games played at the same time and how the broadcast would handle it. It might very well be a preview of how the NBA broadcast will conduct itself if and when games resume.

Usually, teams fly to New York each week for the weekend NBA 2K League games. But with every team playing remotely, the league has decided to make each game a best 2-of-3 series and for games to run simultaneously.

This created the frustrating experience for those wanting to watch Magic Gaming of missing out almost the entire first game. Similarly, fans of both the Pacers and Heat missed out on their exciting second game as Magic Gaming finished its second game.

Preferably it would be better for fans of each individual team to be able to show their games in full.

But this is still a relatively young league that is building a league-wide following as much as an individual team following. With games played in one central studio — except for tournaments, including last year’s The Ticket played at Full Sail University in Orlando — the league is selling the entire league rather than a few teams to get notice and attention.

Right now, it seems like the broadcast is finding the right mix of presenting entire games for its audience while still keeping everyone informed what is happening in the other game going on. That will surely improve as the league continues to broadcast games this season.

But it is one of the few hiccups in what has been a successful two nights of basketball in the 2K League.

The league decided it could start its season remotely, scheduling the first six weeks for each team. With nothing else on, the league gets the boost of having its games broadcast on ESPN2 on Tuesday with the other nights (every week from Tuesday through Friday) on ESPN’s app in addition to Twitch.

There is a real possibility the NBA could go a similar route as the 2K League when things are all said and done. If the league opts to have teams play in a single location, they too could look to run multiple games. And so the national broadcast of a NBA game could look something like these broadcasts with the broadcast bouncing between games.

This will not be quite like the regular season where several games start at the same time. This could be more like the 2K League with windows of games — depending on the number of course and where the season takes place — and the NBA having the ability to show every game seemingly at once.

Of course, unlike the 2K League, individual teams have regional sports networks hungry to air NBA games again. Local fans will likely still be able to see full games. But even presenting something akin to a NBA “Red Zone” channel is a possibility. And something the league should explore to try to help sell the league and keep fans’ focus on the games — rather than any off-court drama which drives so much attention in newscasts.

The NBA has an issue with lagging ratings. Anything it can do to help give general fans better exposure to its product and show the excitement of the game son the floor will be a boost.

That is what this format from the 2K League felt like. When both games got tight at the end of Game 2 on Wednesday, the 2K Leauge broadcast went to a double box, leading to a sometimes confusing but mostly exciting side-by-side of big plays in tense matchups between the four teams.

The NBA is always exploring new ways to present its product. Having to introduce much of the 2K League to a broader audience — maybe this presentation of games is the norm in the professional gaming industry — this is a good way for newcomers to get a taste of everything the league has to offer and get introduced to all the players in the league. Unlike the NBA when most fans probably already know the key players.

Still, if the NBA is looking for new ways to reinvigorate its broadcast, it should be looking and studying how the 2K League is handling multiple games at once on a national broadcast. There are still hiccups for sure but as they get better and as they improve the broadcast, this will surely be something to study moving forward.

Until the season picks up, the NBA 2K League will be the only live basketball we will have to watch.

Next: Magic plan to reopen facility next week

And so far, at least, it looks like Magic Gaming came to play.

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