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NBA HORSE Challenge recap: Billups, Quigley surprise with wins in first round

We saw Trae Young and Chris Paul go down in the first round of the NBA HORSE tournament. Here’s a complete recap of the action.

Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky shoots free throws against the Las Vegas Aces on September 15, 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

If you’re looking for the live blog for the semifinals and final on Thursday night, go no further than here.

9:03 p.m. — With a free throw bank shot, and a miss by CP3, the three-time WNBA All-Star advances with an H-O-R-S-E to H-O-R victory over the guy shooting in the shadow of his mansion. Quigley and her sit-down shot is a dagger, and she should probably mix in a few more of those in the next two matches.

I think this is the first time we’ve seen Chris Paul lose in a playoff format as a favorite HAHAHA just kidding! So now we’ve got Billups vs. Conley, and LaVine vs. Quigley to determine a champion. Which gives us one old guy, two NBA guys, and one WNBA player, so we’ve got someone for all the targeted demographics to root for.

Was this a success? Eh, who knows. But you can stop bingeing Netflix for a bit on Thursday night to see actual athletes performing actual athletic things, and you know you’ll be watching. Let’s hope ESPN and the NBA can fix the technical difficulties before the next rounds.

We’re signing off from here. Hopefully this live blog was more successful than Paul Pierce was tonight. Until next time!

8:52 p.m. — The most fun shot of the tournament so far was for sure Chris Paul grabbing his leg while facing the wrong way, twists his body, and makes a free throw in a half-Yoga pose.

8:38 p.m. — Chris Paul now takes on WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley, and Paul whining when he loses the coin toss is just phenomenal and on #brand.

Both players are making shots early, but both don’t have a setup when they can really stroke it from distance. This is a midrange battle.

8:30 p.m. — LaVine ends it with a 27-footer from the grass, Pierce rims the shot to match out, and we have our first skunk of the ESPN HORSE sponsored-broadcasting era! History has been made! Cue the Wide World of Sports intro and Jim McKay’s voiceover!

We’re rooting for LaVine and Conley in the semifinals if only for their game, their court setups, and their technology. Meanwhile Pierce’s daughter got a wheelchair and rolled her Dad off the court... ok that didn’t happen, but wouldn’t it have been awesome if it did?

8:20 p.m. — Clearly there’s no defense in HORSE, because Zach LaVine has been the best player we’ve seen so far. LaVine leads H-O-R to nothing on The Truth, and he’s got the next shot as well.

Can Pierce get on the board?? Will we see a beautiful pixelated sunset over the mountains of Southern California?? Will Zach LaVine involve his pitbull in a shot??? Look: we’re actively stretching to find drama here, as this event just isn’t what we (and everyone if you look at social media, apparently) were hoping. But the action stands and the picks pools are live. We’re not going anywhere!

8:10 p.m. — As we head to another commercial to remind us what high-def looks like, LaVine has an H-O lead on Pierce, who is competing gamely, but was forced to take his last corner three from what looked like his outdoor grill? LaVine came with some fun shots as well, he’s prepared well here.

Can we make this like the NCAA Tournament where on Thursday night the four winners advance to a new arena? Preferably one with iPhones and decent wi-fi?

8:04 p.m. — Zach LaVine is in Somewhere, Wisconsin, and The Truth Paul Pierce is home in Los Angeles... where he has a Celtics-logo all over his court. And his first shot is a ridiculous spin move into a Nowitzki-fade that he misses.

Meanwhile LaVine, one of the best dunkers in the NBA, is making Pierce tap the backboard and hit a reverse layup... which somehow the 42-year-old Pierce pulls off.

7:58 p.m.Mike Conley finishes it with a behind-the-backboard off-hand layup that Catchings had no chance of matching, and it’s over. Conley wins H-O-R-S-E to H, and one of the best shooters in WNBA history is mercifully allowed to head back inside instead of trying to make jumpers in conditions the Cape of Good Hope would frown upon.

7:50 p.m.Mike Conley is making off-hand, one-handed three pointers inside a comfortable gym, while Tamika Catchings is fighting the elements like it’s the opening scene of The Wizard of Oz. It’s H-O-R-S to H, and though Tamika has the next shot, it seems a matter of time before we’re moving on to Paul Pierce vs. Zach LaVine.

And for a guy that isn’t known for his J, Conley is showing how good all NBA players are in an open gym.

7:48 p.m. — With a nod to the Sugar Hill Gang, I don’t mean to brag, I don’t mean to boast, but..

Remember, friends: Even during a global pandemic, there’s still advantage play opportunities out there, America!

7:45 p.m. — Now Mike Conley Jr. takes on Tamika Catchings, and the WNBA Hall-of-Famer is freezing to death in the wind while Conley is indoors in a gym. He’s also not retired. There is a HUGE edge here for the Utah Jazz point guard.

7:34 p.m. — Chauncey comes all the way back, down H-O-R to zero, but hangs five straight letters on Trae Young for the victory. A three-pointer from the top off the key, bank called, ends up being the dagger. And just like the 2019 Rookie of The Year race, Trae is the second-place finisher and comes up short.

But the production value on this is awful, and it’s not going well on social media here.

I’ve also parlayed Mike Conley with the over on my Postmates delivery time being 7:48 p.m. I really, really need sports to return.

7:20 p.m. — Chauncey is wearing an H-O-R so far, while Young is clean through the first commercial break. The lack of streaming technology here though shows how far we’ve still got to go to get quality broadband in rural America. And now Young is going back behind the backboard again. Where’s the rule that says you can only take a specific shot once?

7:15 p.m. — The first thing we notice is the wi-fi in Norman, Oklahoma isn’t exactly up to standard. Also Trae Young shooting from behind the backboard with his non-regulation driveway setup, while Chauncey has a full NBA-style stanchion, is just not fair. And Young’s rim is so bent you’d be ashamed of it in your local park. We can’t find these guys an open gym somewhere? There’s money riding on this!

7:05 p.m. — And we are live! It looks like a lot of the players will be shooting from their home courts and driveway, so those that are inside would seem to have an advantage.

Our first matchup is Trae Young from his driveway in Norman, Oklahoma against Chauncey Billups on an outdoor court that looks to be full-court. Advantage Billups for the setup here.

Trae Young shoots first and makes a free throw. Away we go.

6:28 p.m. — One of the most fun things about this competition has been the buildup on social media. Allie Quigley has been one of the best players to follow, and she’s already getting in Chris Paul’s thoughts ahead of tonight’s battle.

Nike is involved too, sending their sponsored player fresh kicks for the event:

Trae Young might be on the other side of the bracket from former NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner Zach LaVine, but he’s already making sure there’s no way for him to get out-athlete’d in the finals.

The NBA and ESPN is giving us more basketball related content during these tough times. With the NBA season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the League has teamed up with ESPN to host the NBA HORSE Challenge. It’s a classic tournament of H-O-R-S-E — the childhood basketball game in which you try to match your opponents shot. Let’s go over the field and matchups for the first round. We’ll have live updates for you once the event gets underway.

NBA HORSE Challenge TV schedule, first round matchups

The NBA HORSE Challenge first round will be televised on ESPN beginning at 7 PM ET and running until 9 PM ET on Easter Sunday. The semifinals and championship round will also be on ESPN beginning at 9 PM ET on Thursday and streaming on the ESPN app. Here are the first round matchups:

  • Trae Young vs. Chauncey Billups
  • Tamika Catchings vs. Mike Conley
  • Zach LaVine vs. Paul Pierce
  • Chris Paul vs. Allie Quigley

Here’s a look at the hypothetical odds for the tournament, provided by DraftKings Sportsbook Director Johnny Avello. The odds are not available to bet on at DK Sportsbook.

Trae Young — 8-5
Zach LaVine — 7-2
Chris Paul — 9-2
Mike Conley — 6-1
Allie Quigley — 12-1
Tamika Catchings — 18-1
Paul Pierce — 22-1
Chauncey Billups — 25-1

DraftKings Sportsbook is also hosting a friendly media picks pool for the competition. College Deputy Editor Collin Sherwin will be representing DK Nation in the pool. He did a write up of everyone’s picks for tonight.

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