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 second game, Pacers Gaming against Warriors Gaming Squad. Clips via the league’s Twitch.
Warriors Gaming Squad (3-10) 61, Pacers Gaming (5-7) 60
A tough loss for the Pacers and a jubilant win for the Warriors. The Pacers see their playoff hopes put in doubt, though they’ll have two more games on the weekend (Kings Guard Gaming, Blazer5 Gaming) to try and salvage their postseason prospects. The Warriors climbed out of the cellar with their third win of the regular season and the Kings’ two losses on the night.
This was as close to a chess match as NBA 2K League games get, with the Pacers’ set-heavy offense opposed by coach Tommy Abdenour and a Warriors defense that’s a lot better than the team’s record indicates. The Pacers run the most plays of any team in the league. The Warriors have a DPOY candidate in Type.
The Warriors defended the Pacers really, really well, especially the Pacers’ patented horns sets. Right off the bat, they shut down the WoLF corner play and stuck with everyone. They forced Frosty to hold onto the ball at the elbow for much longer than the Pacers would like, and by the fourth quarter he was jacking midrange jumpers. That’s what the Warriors wanted, and that’s what they worked to get.
The Pacers got a dangerously high percentage of their points from individual shooting such as the above. Gooner had a remarkable game from the field, hitting a lot of tough shots, but again, the Warriors were happy to allow contested shots over the clean looks that the Pacers usually manufacture. The Warriors didn’t hit many of their similarly difficult shots, especially in the first half. They’ve never really been great at getting good looks, even though they run their fair share of plays.
But man, look at that defense. Vert comes up with a huge closeout on one of the Pacers’ double-offball screen plays, and then Type gets a big stuff that the team pushes for a transition bucket to ensure a positive four-point swing before the half.
That’s not to say that this slugfest was without its fair share of highlights.
Gooner nails another tough shot out of a horns set before Vert, on the shot-creating slasher, spins and slams. It’s not easy to get so much space down low, especially with Shockey in the vicinity. The Warriors burdened Vert with more of the offense late, and he responded in a big way. They clawed their way to a late victory thanks in part to his reverse dunk with 5 seconds left that put them up by one.
Why am I showing this last clip? It’s the Warriors last defensive breakdown of the game. Sleep takes the easy way out and hopes to switch off Wolf, who’s well past him. Needless to say, it doesn’t work, and Wolf hits an easy midrange jumper. Guess what shot Wolf missed at the end of the game, with Sleep guarding him? Sure, there was the pressure of time there, but it encapsulates the personal responsibility the Warriors showed throughout the game. Well-coached, well-disciplined, well-won.