Yes, we’re already at this point in the quarantine.
Donovan Mitchell matched up with Rui Hachimura in ESPN’s NBA2K tournament Sunday evening, and we live-blogged it. A note: The hands typing these words have very little experience with these games. Expert gamers will be disappointed. Let’s have a little fun!
As the lower seed, Rui has first choice on his team and goes with the Lakers. Donovan counters with the Nets, saying he wants to leave the Jazz for later.
5:57: Donovan, hilariously, uses one of his few available pauses to take a timeout three seconds in and change his lineup. Him making adjustments will become a theme.
2:02: Rui is having some early success in the post, but Donovan also showcases some active hands on D:
Rui planned out a comedy bit! This is quality stuff.
0:40: Early on, it sure looks like 2K Donovan is pretty similar to real-life Donovan. He has some awesome moves with both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, but also forces bad shots with both guys.
The score is 19-17 Rui after the first quarter, a pretty evenly-matched period. Donovan has more finesse with his ball-handlers, but you can tell Rui thinks the game like a big – he posts up AD and LeBron and knows how to get the spin cycle going.
5:00: Donovan takes his second timeout to change a matchup with 5 mins left, commenting, “I love you, Joe Harris, but no, that ain’t it.”
At this point, Rui gets out to a two-possession lead, leaning on LeBron James and his transition game and going up by as many as eight points. Donovan is even getting a bit frustrated!
But then Mitchell makes a big run to close the half – Irving and KD in transition, the latter of whom is just a monster with any kind of momentum toward the hoop in this game:
Rui strikes bak late, though, going up 38-34 at the half – he’s shooting 70% from the floor, with Donovan shooting 47%. Hahimura is also winning rebounding 13-10 and assists 8-5.
Donovan opens with an adjustment in the second half, guarding LeBron with Durant. He gets a couple stops and even ties it briefly at 40.
3:20: But again, Rui has a really nice spin game in the post. I certainly do not know how to do this move consistently on 2K, and Donovan hasn’t been able to stop it all game either:
The two trade a few more buckets, and it’s 51-49 Rui after 3.
The big theme to this point is adjusting matchups – Donovan has done it a bunch, Rui hasn’t at all. It finally started to swing Donovan’s way in the second half a bit, but he could only capitalize so much. You can tell he’s a bit more familiar with the game; he’s also Euro fouled a few times. But he gives some of that edge back with iffy shot selection.
Donovan had Kyrie and KD out of the game for a surprisingly long time to end the third quarter, but he has them both back in to start the fourth and it seems likely they’ll close. The teams open the quarter like they did in the late third, with a lot of scrappy ball – the offensive rebounding rate in this game has been crazy high for both teams.
One reason why: Both guys like to either control the big man (Rui) or switch onto him late (Donovan) defensively to contest shots at the rim. But that leaves them out of position for rebounds, like Rui is here in allowing one that Donovan follows up with a J from KD to take a four-point lead:
The teams trade buckets, then KD gets another dunk for his 23rd point – he’s been Donovan’s MVP by a mile. But a turnover and a LeBron bucket get the tie right back, and Mitchel follows it up with another rough cough-up; again we see the value of Rui allowing the CPU to guard on-ball, swiping a steal and getting LeBron a bucket in transition to go up two:
Another ill-advised shot from Donovan, plus a bucket on the other end from Rui, makes it appear the game is out of reach.
But wait! Donovan plays the foul game really well, setting up a climactic finish as Danny Green misses a free-throw with 4.9 seconds left and the Lakers up three:
So close! (We’ll assume Spencer Dinwiddie’s foot was not on the line there and that look would have tied the game.)
And with that, it’s a dispiriting finish for Mitchell and Jazz fans. Their sole representative in the tournament falls short. Heads are hung around the state.
Jokes aside, this is a cool idea by the folks with ESPN and NBA2K. It may not be perfect, but we get to watch NBA guys on the screen for an hour playing a game most have experience with. Winner gets to donate some money to a good cause. It’s a win-win in these tough times.