“I don’t even know how to play this game,” Sixers player Matisse Thybulle joked.
“I’ve been playing the last 48 [hours],” Bridges said.
Perhaps that extra bit of practice was all the difference.
The twist is that Philly native Bridges was controlling his Suns, while Thybulle, from the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Arizona, took charge of his 76ers.
The Suns jumped ahead in the second quarter, taking an 11-point lead into halftime. Philly surged back, scoring 21 in the third and holding Phoenix to six to take a four-point lead into the final frame before Bridges and the Suns pulled away.
If it wasn’t the extra practice, it was Twitch chat calling for substitutions. When Philly took control of the game — in part because of exhausted pixelated Suns players — Bridges noticed the call to action and corrected course, leading to a bounce-back for the Suns.
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Amid the pause in sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Suns have embraced creating season-simulation content more than most other teams that are also doing it. Even the Suns’ official website schedule has been updated to include Twitch links. Every game is treated like an event, with different athletes and influencers taking part, often with little wrinkles being added along the way.
This game included a bingo card filled with entries such as “Ayton dunks” and “Rubio rebound” that fans could use to follow along. It was also the first broadcast to be called on the radio, as Suns radio play-by-play announcer Jon Bloom and Suns color analyst Tim Kempton called the NBA 2K game on Arizona Sports KMVP-FM 98.7, an ESPN Radio station based in Phoenix. According to the Suns’ press release, it was the first NBA 2K game ever called on the radio.
Despite audio issues in the fourth quarter and the game starting time being pushed back an hour, the game consistently saw 12,000 viewers on Twitch and Twitter, which is consistent with the number of viewers from previous games. The Suns’ next scheduled broadcast is Saturday against the Miami Heat.