Montrezl Harrell would be forgiven if he kept it casual for the NBA 2K Tournament. The entire country is sheltering in place at home, and most people haven’t been getting dressed up on a regular basis.
But casual isn’t Harrell’s style. The Clipper big came ready to be on camera, and ready to play.
“Mid-Range King! Mid-Range King!”— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 5, 2020
Montrezl Harrell after the mid range jumper from Kawhi Leonard. pic.twitter.com/XeCmoH2UB9
It paid off, and No. 8 seed Harrell used a dominant second half to beat No. 9 Sabonis 73-51 in the first round of the NBA 2K players tournament. He advances to play Derrick Jones Jr., who comfortably defeated the No. 1 overall seed Kevin Durant in his round one matchup.
For the first time in the tournament, a player elected to play as his own team when Sabonis chose the Indiana Pacers. In response, Harrell picked the Clippers, even though he admitted he hates playing as himself.
The matchup already went in Harrell’s favor talent-wise, and Harrell clearly appeared more comfortable with 2K than Sabonis. Nevertheless, it was delightful watching Sabonis trying to run real Pacers actions with his video-game team. His most frequent offense consisted of setting high screens with himself and running a lot of post ups. Harrell was locked in on the scouting report, knowing his Indiana counterpart’s tendencies before he could get settled.
Harrell, meanwhile, was having a ball playing with his own team. When Sabonis called for Kawhi Leonard to miss at least one free throw, Harrell said, “Terminator don’t miss!”
Montrezl Harrell about Kawhi Leonard at the free throw line in 2k: "You know Terminator don't miss." pic.twitter.com/LgBZCa8i76— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) April 5, 2020
Harrell got Leonard going early, continuously referring to Leonard as “Klaw,” and the Clippers superstar was the best player throughout.
Harrell was hyped when his avatar and Lou Williams came into the game, saying “OK, here comes the bench duo,” and ran a series of Williams/Harrell pick-and-rolls. When he got his first Harrell basket off that action, he yelled “There it go! There it go!” He was equally pumped later when he dunked on an isolation.
Oh my god Montrezl Harrell did them dirty. pic.twitter.com/svkA5q3tG6— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) April 5, 2020
Harrell appeared to take particular pride in playing well with Ivica Zubac. Zubac had some nice dunks, posted up Myles Turner multiple times, and covered Turner well on the other end.
Montrezl Harrell with the Ivica Zubac post moves and gets hyped pic.twitter.com/I7QWt9Lrlp— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 5, 2020
The game was relatively close at halftime, with Harrell leading 30-23. He went on a monster run in the third quarter to go up 47-27, at which point Sabonis declared the game over and that he just wanted to look good.
About the only thing that didn’t go well for Harrell was that he got outrebounded, which he took full responsibility for. “I’m getting killed on the glass, that’s all me,” he said during the third quarter.
He was also displeased that NBA 2K didn’t account for his trademark floater and had him take a jump shot from the middle of the painted area instead; Harrell’s avatar missed the shot. The game did fix his free-throw motion, however, which he said was much improved.
Even in defeat, Sabonis seemed far more pleasant and enjoyable than most of the other 2K participants, and the banter between the two players was entertaining throughout. Harrell certainly enjoyed himself, as he becomes the second Clipper to advance to the next stage of the tournament.