After arriving in New York City and welcoming their sixth and final member to the United States, it was time for Mavs Gaming to finally put their hard work to the test.
Unable to practice as a complete team in the weeks leading up to the event, they knew they would have to ride the experience of Dimez and his connection with Dayfri.
And that was the game plan from the opening tip against Heat Check Gaming.
On offense, it was the Dimez show as it became pretty clear that the whole offensive scheme would be going through the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. He lived up to his name by recording 12 assists in the first half.
They pressured full court and forced the Heat into costly turnovers. And the best part of it was the fact that Dimez and the guys were letting them know by chirping back-and-forth after big plays.
“What everybody doesn’t know is what happened behind the scenes,” Dimez said. “We were around these guys all the time [at the hotel]. They kept talking trash every time they saw us. The whole team. From the coach, all the way down to the sixth man.”
For Dayfri, talking trash is in his DNA.
“I played baseball. We always talked trash. It doesn’t matter what it is. We could be playing tic tac toe and I would be talking trash,” Dayfri said.
That first game was also a personal one for Jonah Edwards, the head coach for Mavs Gaming.
“That game was personal,” Edwards said. “They were trash talking for a few weeks now and how they were the best team in the league”
The first half ended when a pass was kicked out to JLB for a three pointer at the buzzer. After making the shot, JLB rose up out of his chair holding up the iconic Dirk Nowitzki three fingers. JLB said it was something he was waiting to pull out as the fellow German native has always idolized Nowitzki.
“I was waiting for it on the big stage,” JLB said. “I told him [the eSports announcer] if I hit a big three I would look up to him with a Dirk three pointer.”
— Jannis 🇩🇪 (@JLB_2k) May 4, 2018
The second half was once again highlighted by the connection between Dimez and Dayfri. Dimez finished the game with 19 assists while Dayfri had a monster game with 36 points and 10 rebounds.
They would win the first game in franchise history by 19 points.
“It was more than what we expected,” Devillon said about the first game experience. “From the production to the audience watching us play. We knew going into it that it was going to be a good game gameplay wise, but just the feeling of being introduced like that and seeing yourself on the big screen above you. Everything was surreal.”
With the adrenaline pumping from their first win, they immediately had to head back to the hotel before their three game slate the next day.
“Me and Dimez stayed up until six in the morning talking about the game and the next day…I didn’t want to go to bed,” Dayfri said.
Day two was a long, but fulfilling one.
The first of three games of the day was against a stingy Pacers Gaming team. While Mavs Gaming put up 81 points the night before, they would finished the game against the Pacers with just 50 total points.
Mavs Gaming could never quite figure out the Pacers defense. Dimez finished with 16 points and 9 assists while Devillon finished with 14 points. They would lose the game by seven points.
At this point, winning game three against Celtics Crossover Gaming meant everything.
Only the top two teams from each group advance to Saturday. Celtics Crossover Gaming was 2-0 heading into the match while Pacers Gaming was sitting at 2-1. If Mavs Gaming planned on advancing to Saturday, they had to beat the Celtics.
And Boston has the number two overall pick in the draft in oFab.
Fab and Boston set the tone early and quite frankly, a lot of viewers probably thought it was over when Dallas went down by 20 points in the second quarter.
“We were getting smacked and Dimez suggested we get out of press,” Dayfri said.
The second half was a different story.
“Let’s just chip away. I didn’t know we were going to make all 15 points up,” Edwards said in regards to his halftime message to the team.
Mavs Gaming would erase the 15-point deficit in the third quarter by outscoring the Celtics 21-6 in the quarter. What was once a 20-point game was now a tied game heading into the fourth quarter.
“Once we tied it, it was done,” Dayfri said.
Despite a late surge by Fab, Mavs Gaming would outscore Boston 25-18 in the fourth and win the game 81-74. Dimez finished with 20 points and 17 assists while Dayfri and Seem finished with 22 points each.
“That was the craziest comeback I have ever been a part of,” Dimez said with a smile. “That was such a big game for not just our team, but our rivalry because everyone tries to say he [Fab] is better than me. We have played against each other for a long time.”
After wins by the Pacers and Celtics before Mavs Gaming’s last game, the table was set. Mavs Gaming not only needed a win in their last matchup vs. Memphis, but they needed to win by at least nine points due to a tiebreaker rule for pool play. But nine wasn’t the number they cared about.
They needed to win by at least 21 points to win their group.
“We didn’t even hear the nine, what do we need for the first seed?” Dimez said when talking about their thoughts as a team.
It got ugly pretty quick.
Behind an aggressive Dimez at the point, Mavs Gaming took a 26-7 lead into the second quarter and a 48-21 lead into halftime. For the people who thought Dimez could just pass, he had 28 points at the half.
“The whole team said do whatever it takes to get the win,” Dimez said. “I had the hot hand so I just stuck with it.”
As the second half went along, it became clear that Mavs Gaming was going to win the game and by far more than the nine points needed. What became the storyline of the second half was Dimez going for the all-time scoring record in a single game that was previously set at 46 points.
— Mavs Gaming (@MavsGG) May 5, 2018
Dimez would break the record and finish with an even 50 points. Not only that, but he did it on 22/31 shooting while recording 12 assists and six steals. Oh, he didn’t even attempt a single three pointer.
The 92-51 win meant they were headed to the single elimination tournament on Saturday where they would face 76ers Gaming in the first round.
It was another slow start for the Mavs as only Dayfri could get going early. With Dimez struggling offensively, Dallas went down by six at the end of the first quarter and ended up trailing by 18 at the half.
“I felt like we got content with making it there,” Dimez said. “We won the group of death. We took the 76ers too lightly.”
Nothing changed in the second half as 76ers Gaming held control of the game and pulled away for a 83-56 victory. 76ers Gaming would win their next two games and win the whole tournament.
For Mavs Gaming, it was obviously a rough loss. But it was also a growing experience as their inexperience playing together finally came to light.
“We knew it would catch up to us,” Edwards said. “Especially in our defensive rotations. We just haven’t played together enough to be on a rope. The best defensive teams are always on a rope and we just weren’t there.”
As for what they learned the most this week, Edwards said they simply can’t go into games in a calm manner.
“Not to go into games calm and easy. Everyone wants to beat us. We are like the villain of the league,” Edwards said.
With the Tip-Off Tournament complete, the regular season will now get underway this week. This will obviously be an adjustment as the Mavs just finished five games in three days.
Now, they will have one game this entire week when they play the Raptors on Saturday, May 12th at 11:00AM CT on twitch.tv/nba2kleague.