The NBA 2K League studios played host to three games on August 9, 2018. Each was a make-up game from a week 11 that had been limited by rain to seven games rather than the usual seven games. Luckily for NBA 2K League fans, that meant another night of intense competition and games with playoff implication.
Here’s the strat-cap (strategy recap) from the night’s first game, Mavs Gaming against Kings Guard Gaming. Clips via the league’s Twitch.
Mavs Gaming (6-7) def. Kings Guard Gaming (3-9) 85-58
Mavs Gaming entered this one needing two wins to have a remote shot at earning a playoff spot. They took care of this first game handily, snapping their five-game regular-season losing streak by extending the Kings’ league-worst regular-season losing streak to nine. The Mavs deployed a new lineup, keyed by Dayfri at point guard and Dimez on a rebounding athletic finisher at power forward. The Kings maintained their post-Ticket standard lineup of Worthingcolt at the 1, Timelycook at the 3, and Mootyy at the 5.
Let’s work backwards a bit, knowing the score.
That’s a nice play by Kings Guard: Timely sets a backscreen for Safiya, who drains the trey on a feed from Colt. Look again, though, this time at the score (70-46) and Cook shaking his head in the FaceCam up top. The above is the Kings’ first time running that play all game. Down 24. Their bread-and-butter, since the Ticket, has been the Colt/Mootyy pick and roll. But they need to mix in plays, because the pick and roll gets stale.
Why’s Cook shaking his head? Well, he’s done well on most of the opportunities he’s gotten from the left corner. He misses the shot below, but he hits a few threes and drives effectively a couple times in the second/third quarter when he gets the ball, which usually happens on plays like this:
Notice how the pick and roll up top has Dimez rotating down low to Mootyy, diving to the hoop? That leaves Cook open for the feed in the corner. But the Mavs started cracking down on this, pinching at the right time, and limiting Cook’s access to the ball.
Look at how Dimez stays on Cook despite the pick and roll up top. Also, twice in that clip, JLB grabs the board. Meeting Dirk must have inspired the German, who played really well and grabbed an impressive number of rebounds.
Also important in that clip is the ineffectiveness of the most important part of the Kings’ PnR game. Colt isn’t the type of player, and doesn’t play on an archetype that allows him to score on a lot of pull-up jumpers. Thus he really needs to let Mootyy set an effective screen, and Colt has to give his big man time to do so. Here’s what happens when he doesn’t.
Dayfri stays with him, JLB hedges and returns to Mootyy with ease, and Dayfri is back on him before he’s turned to the basket. But here’s what happens when the screen is a good one, and Colt penetrates decisively:
Much better. But it didn’t come often for the Kings, who found themselves on the wrong end of a lot of transition buckets and diversified scoring from the Mavs. It’s hard to play offense when you’re long eliminated and playing for pride, but it’s even harder to play defense.
That doesn’t detract from Dayfri’s command of this game. He drove, scored, and made tough shots while still whipping the ball around. This play gives you a pretty good idea of how successful, overall, the Mavs’ lineup change was. Again, it’s the second part of the Kings’ weak screen clip.
The Mavs well deserved to win this game, but they’ll have a tougher game against the Bucks, who are a little less disgruntled, and run a few more plays on offense, than the league-worst Kings.