In their first matchup of the season, the 6-8 76ers Gaming easily handled the 4-8 Atlanta Hawks Talon GC with a 2-0 sweep Friday night. It was Talon GC’s second consecutive series defeat without taking a game and its third loss since topping Orlando’s Magic Gaming on July 7.
“76ers GC’s Coach [Jeff] Terrell is one of the best in the league, and his team showed tonight why they’ve had success in turning their season around,” Talon GC head coach Wesley Acuff said after Friday night’s loss.
Game one featured an unsuccessful new look for Atlanta. After recently employing a lineup that split shooting responsibilities between guards Michael “Bp” Diaz-Cruz and Mykel “Kel” Wilson, the absence of defensive specialist Kwan “followTHEGOD,” shook up Acuff’s strategy.
Support player Andrew “MrStylez” Valle moved into the secondary shooter role while Derrion “Arkele” Elmore made his presence known in his first appearance of 2020. Valle scored a season-high 16 points off 5-of-6 shooting and Elmore posted six points, six rebounds and two blocks in Atlanta’s 85-67 loss.
Diaz-Cruz ran the offense as usual, taking 61.3% of Talon GC’s shots for 36 points and eight — 10 more than 76ers Gaming — his exceptional deep ball shooting wasn’t enough to carry the team.
Philadelphia’s defense completely silenced Wilson and his 19 points-per-game average. He went 0-for-2 from the field and notched two assists in an uncharacteristically weak showing.
Through the first half of game two, Atlanta still had a shot to push for a tiebreaker. Down five, Wilson had begun to power through his slump with four points off 40% shooting. Center Levi “Lee” Lamb was well on his way to a double-double with a team-high eight points and five rebounds, and the team’s turnover troubles from game one appeared to have subsided.
But 76ers Gaming didn’t let off the gas the rest of the night. With an explosive second half, Philadelphia expanded its lead to 19 points and held Atlanta to 48 by the game’s end.
Talon’s 50% shooting didn’t hold up to Philadelphia’s 67.3%. Diaz-Cruz scored 17 — points on a meager 6-of-16 showing as Lamb led the team with 19 and 13 boards. Valle failed to score in the second half and Wilson matched his first half effort to finish with eight points and two assists.
Now 1-7 since May 21, Talon GC ranks No. 17 of 23 NBA 2K League teams ahead of the July 22-25 THE TURN tournament. Talon will play Wednesday for a chance to enter the 16-team bracket and compete for the $117,000 top-prize.
“Our team is ready to give their best effort in next week’s tournament,” Acuff said.