INDIANAPOLIS (July 20, 2023) – The NBA 2K League announcers on TWITCH called them “Cinderella” and the “Comeback Kids.” Call them what you will but you must call Pacers Gaming “semifinalists” as the Pacers upset Cavs Legion 2-1 in a quarterfinal best-of-three series late Thursday night in Washington, D.C. to advance to Friday night’s 6:45 PM Final Four matchup with Blazer5 Gaming in THE TURN Tournament presented by AT&T. The Pacers faced Portland twice earlier in the group play round of this tournament – losing 76-72 on June 21 and 64-62 on June 30. A series win Friday puts the upstart Blue & Gold in Saturday’s championship! The first two games of Thursday’s semifinal featured blowouts – as Indiana won 72-50 in Game 1 and Cleveland claimed Game 2 with a 82-66 decision.
The deciding Game 3 was one for the ages. The Cavs, coming off their impressive win in Game 2, continued to play well, running out to a 21-11 lead after the first quarter. Cleveland continued to keep the pressure on Indiana, outscoring the Pacers 18-17 in the second to take a 39-28 halftime advantage. The Cavs were out-shooting and out-rebounding the Pacers by a wide margin. But the Blue & Gold, who have rallied countless times over the past few weeks on this marvelous miracle run, outscored Cleveland 23-13 in the third quarter to pull within one, 52-51 after three. CHESS (Kory Taylor) had 10 points in the period for Indiana. With the Cavs leading 57-55, the Pacers exploded to outscore Cleveland 18-5 over the last four minutes of the game to win 73-62. The Pacers outscored the Cavs 45-23 in an impressive second-half display.
All five Pacers scored in double figures in Game 3 led by center BIG REIGN (Blaine Wilson) with 19 points (on nine-of-nine shooting). The Montgomery, Ala., native added eight rebounds. GREENLIGHT (Dylan Sanderson) registered a double/double with 18 points and 10 assists. CHESS scored 16 points on six-of-nine shooting and dished eight assists. JAYSNAGS (Julio Laboy) did what he always does – a little bit of everything. He scored 10, had six rebounds, two assists, three steals and blocked two shots. RANGE (Gil Santiago, Jr.), the emotional leader of the comeback, had 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. FAIZ led Cleveland with 20 points and ANTOINE, who had 24 points in each of the first two games Thursday, was held to 13 points on four-of-13 shooting from the field.
In Game 1 the Pacers were impressive, outscoring the Cavs in each of the four quarters en route to the 22-point victory. Indiana led by five points after the first quarter, 15-10 as GREENLIGHT and JAYSNAGS each scored five. Cleveland started the second quarter on a 8-0 run to lead by three but the resilient Pacers went on their own 9-2 spurt to regain the lead for good. CHESS had 13 points in the second quarter to pace Indiana to a 35-27 advantage at intermission. GREENLIGHT (11 points) and CHESS (eight points) combined for 19 in a 26-17 third quarter. The Pacers, who led by as many as 26, outscored Cavs Legion 11-6 in the fourth to take the 72-50 triumph.
CHESS led the way in Game 1 with a career-high 33 points (six of 10 from the three-point arc) while GREENLIGHT added 14 tallies and seven assists. JAYSNAGS finished with 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. BIG REIGN scored eight but pulled down double-figures in rebounds (11) for the eighth straight contest. ANTOINE led Cleveland with 24 points. The Pacers shot 55% from the field while holding Cleveland to 44%. In three-point shooting, Indiana was 13-26 and Cleveland only 6-24. The Pacers outrebounded Cavs Legion 23-18.
Needing a win in Game 2 or it would lose the series, Cleveland took control early and never looked back, winning 82-66. The Pacers were 0-5 from three in a first quarter that saw Cleveland lead 20-12. The Pacers tried to rally in the second but got outscored 22-18 to trail 42-30 at halftime. ANTONIE had 19 at intermission for Cavs Legion. Cleveland continued to control the game, outscoring Indiana 20-13 in the third to lead by 19 after three periods. The Pacers, who trailed by as many as 24 in the fourth quarter, ended up outscoring the Cavs 23-20 in the last stanza for the 82-66 final. ANTOINE once again led Cavs Legion with 24 points and 12 assists. BIG REIGN was nine-of-ten from the field en route to his own double/double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. CHESS contributed 19 points and seven assists while GREENLIGHT had 18 points and five assists. Cleveland was 14-23 from three-point land while holding Indiana to 5-21 from the arc.