Week three brought us more than a few surprises. Here are some quick breakdowns of every matchup of NBA 2K League action this week, capping it all off with a Game of the Week and a Player to Watch. Games are sorted in chronological order, with the Game of the Week bringing up the rear.
Hawks Talon GC (2-1) vs. Mavs Gaming (5-0)
Wednesday, May 1, 6 p.m. EST
The Hawks have exceeded expectations this year. Led by DatBoyShotz’s league-leading 5.5 steals per game, the team has forced 13 turnovers per game in the regular season, keying them to quality wins over Celtics Crossover Gaming and Kings Guard Gaming. Rando at point guard has been exactly what the doctor ordered, but this team might need its best performance yet against the undefeated Mavs.
Speaking of those undefeated Mavs, they’re simply firing on all cylinders. Dimez has played his way back into the elite point guard conversation, while Mo (taken one pick after Hawks Talon counterpart DevGoss) has taken a remarkable leap forward from the Tipoff in scoring. With Sherm rounding into form at lock and Pete slept on as the fifth overall pick, the Mavs may feel free to face down such foes as the Hawks with a whiff of unconcern.
T-Wolves Gaming (1-3) vs. Celtics Crossover Gaming (0-3)
Wednesday, May 1, 7 p.m. EST
The last week has been an absolute disaster for T-Wolves Gaming. After two week three losses, small forward Hood requested a trade, and then the team dismissed head coach Shawn Vilvens, to the players’ surprise. They need to get back on track against Celtics Crossver, and they may be doing so with sixth man NachoTraynor in the lineup for the first time. With all the turmoil, can they gut out a win in their doubleheader?
Well, maybe, because the Celtics are hardly turmoil-free themselves. There’s enough reported discontent in Boston to stink up the basement that the team finds itself in after finishing as runners-up at the Ticket. But they can only improve, and with Fab and Profusion (18.7 points per game) leading the way, a game against T-Wolves Gaming may be just what they need to get things back on track.
NetsGC (2-2) vs. Hawks Talon GC (2-1)
Wednesday, May 1, 8 p.m. EST
The Hawks will be running on fumes after their first game of the night against Mavs Gaming, but if they’re happy fumes, watch out. DatBoyShotz leads the league with 5.5 steals per game, and the insertion of Jay_a_Fool into the lineup at the beginning of the regular season has paid major dividends for the underrated Hawks squad. They’ll need to rebound quickly for their matchup against another solid team in NetsGC.
This is the Nets’ first matchup against a fellow expansion team, and ironically it’s a battle of stellar defenders—DatBoyShotz vs. NateKahl—who went first and second, respectively, in the 2018 expansion draft. The Nets might feel the need to shake things up after last week’s disappointing 0-2 outing; they need to solidify their scoring, from Wavy.zay at point guard all the way up to center.
T-Wolves Gaming (1-3) vs. Mavs Gaming (5-0)
Wednesday, May 1, 9 p.m. EST
The second game of a doubleheader for both teams pits one of the league’s most ascendant squads (Mavs Gaming) against one of its most questioned (T-Wolves Gaming). Dimez vs. BearDaBeast is a marvellous point guard matchup in the night’s penultimate game, but it’s the battle at small forward—Mo against NachoTraynor, if Hood is benched as expected—that could turn the tide in this one.
Pacers Gaming (3-0) vs. Magic Gaming (2-2)
Wednesday, May 1, 10 p.m. EST
This could well be the best game of the night. Pacers Gaming is the league’s best defensive team, with Wolf and Ramo forming arguably top defensive tandem in the league. Matty flashed more offense in their last game, too; if he provides balanced offense along the ever-lethal Swizurk, Pacers Gaming will be a true terror.
The Magic aren’t scared, though, since they’re rounding into form as one of the league’s better teams as well. In UCManny, they’ve got one of the best locks in the league, while Reizey has consistently improved at point guard (that leaner is unstoppable). Add in a suddenly versatile frontcourt trifecta and Orlando is poised to make some Magic.
Grizz Gaming (0-3) vs. Bucks Gaming (3-1)
Thursday, May 2, 6 p.m. EST
Grizz Gaming is officially the sole “winless” team in season two, dating back to the Tipoff. They are coming off a bye week, and we’ve seen other teams find success in weeks following byes. Yet, there still isn’t much this team has shown to provide any sort of optimism for a turn-around. There’s time to right the ship but the clock is ticking.
And the going only gets tougher in this matchup against Bucks Gaming, with the Bucks also coming off a bye week. However, this Bucks team is in a totally different position than Grizz Gaming. They are officially contenders and one of the more well-rounded teams in the league. You can make a case this Bucks team has the best scorer, best PF, and best C in the league right now. It’s going to take Vandi playing up to his draft stock to provide any type of upset in this one.
Celtics Crossover Gaming (0-3) vs. Nets GC (2-2)
Thursday, May 2, 7 p.m. EST
The Celtics have been in the news quite a bit lately. Not only did star point guard oFab have to serve a one-game suspension in week three due to a post-game scuffle following the loss to Hawks Talon GC in week one, but—as we reported earlier this week—oFab and shooting guard ProFusion are both unhappy with the Celtics season to date. With all of this news looming, the Celtics are currently 0-3 and should be desperate to get back on the right track.
The Nets, on the other hand, are still struggling to find the consistency to solidify itself as a contender. After finishing week one 2-0, they came back to go 0-2 in week three following a bye week. The Nets really looked like a premier defensive team in week one. That trend needs to be demonstrated on more of a consistent basis if this team wants to find success throughout the season. Both of these teams should consider this matchup a must-win.
Blazer5 Gaming (3-1) vs. Knicks Gaming (1-2)
Thursday, May 2, 8 p.m. EST
In our week two preview, we wrote about not giving up on Blazer5 Gaming quite yet. After dropping two games to Bucks Gaming in consecutive weeks to start the year, Blazer5 has handily beaten every opponent since. Mama and Walnut look like the best PG and C duo in the league again this year. And the supporting cast seems to continue to develop. This Blazer5 team remembers that playoff game last year and isn’t just looking for a win in this matchup—it’s looking for blood.
Knicks Gaming’s season hasn’t had the ideal start but, need we keep reminding you, neither did last year’s. The Knicks looked better in week three, splitting its matchups 1-1. But there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic as the season progresses. iamadamthe1st looked a lot more comfortable in their first game against Magic Gaming. And Goofy continues to solidify himself as a top center in this league. Knicks Gaming needs a career game from HazzaUK if they look to slow down this Blazer5 team.
Wizards District Gaming (0-3) vs. Warriors Gaming Squad (2-1)
Thursday, May 2, 9 p.m. EST
Even for a team that lost Boo Painter to dismissal in the offseason, Wizards District Gaming has looked like nothing but a pretender so far in season two. Even with Dayfri to anchor things, the lineup still isn’t settled and it’s not clear that the team knows what its best lineup actually is. Can Demon JT be the guy running the offense? Will they continue to test out ReeseDaGod’s point guard prowess? Who can actually score on this team? These are all questions still seemingly without answers now one-fourth of the way into the season.
Warriors Gaming Squad has less questions. Both the talent and the fit have proven to be there for last season’s bottom feeders. One question has been CB13’s transition to the league; the 10th overall pick hasn’t played poorly by any means, but his scoring impact hasn’t been as big as you’d want from a highly touted point guard. This game may be the one where the rookie eases into a more prominent scoring role against a suspect Wizards defense.
Jazz Gaming (1-2) vs. Warriors Gaming Squad (2-1)
Friday, May 3, 7 p.m. EST
Warriors Gaming Squad will be coming off of what should be a winnable game against Wizards District Gaming the night before, while this will be Jazz Gaming’s first of two games of the Friday night, with a future matchup against Grizz Gaming to cap off week four.
The story here will be the first battle between 2019 first and second overall picks, Ria and Gradient, respectively. While they won’t go mano a mano, the two rookies will have their hands full: Ria with defensive stalwart Type (should he be available following his week two absence), and Gradient with the defensive assignment of Yeah I Compete. How both of those matchups go will probably determine how this game will go.
Compete played like the best version of himself last time we saw him—that is, an aggressive scorer and adept playmaker to keep the defense on its toes. The last time Gradient went up against a player of Compete’s caliber, Mama Im Dat Man in week two against Blazer5 Gaming, he held the MVP candidate to just 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting. If he provides a similar effort here, it will make this game a lot easier for the Warriors.
Bucks Gaming (3-1) vs. Raptors Uprising GC (2-2)
Friday, May 3, 8 p.m. EST
The Cinderella of season two, Bucks Gaming, returns after a bye week, and will almost certainly be coming off of a win against Grizz Gaming on Thursday. But they can’t look past a new-look Raptors Uprising GC. Toronto made the hard decision to bench struggling first-round pick Doza, opting for Kenny to run the offense. The choice paid immediate dividends, as the Raptors picked up two crucial wins against T-Wolves Gaming and Nets GC in week three to claw their way back to .500 and save themselves from needing a Herculean effort to make the playoffs again as they did last season.
The new lineup for the Raptors didn’t always look pretty, and adjustments are expected when you move multiple players to new positions (All Hail Trey moved from power forward to small forward and OOCSlim, after playing shooting guard at the Tipoff, was moved in the vacant 4 spot).
The new arrangement will prove difficult in the team’s efforts to thwart the high-powered Bucks offense. Milwaukee is averaging 74 points per game at the moment (here’s where I’d tell you where that ranks in the league with my 2kanalytics.com, IF I HAD ONE) and is one of the deadliest shooting teams in the league. The Raptors are a solid defensive unit, but not having Trey on ARooks will be tough. The Bucks defense is also pretty stout itself and questions still remain as to whether this new lineup can produce the kind of offense this team has desperately looked for all season. This will be a hard one for Toronto to pull off.
Knicks Gaming (1-2) vs. 76ers GC (2-1)
Friday, May 3, 9 p.m. EST
An absolutely brutal pair of games for Knicks Gaming, who will have to face Blazer5 Gaming on Thursday before this match against the Tipoff champs.
76ers GC has a game of its own against Portland earlier in the night, though, and an intense, emotional battle could mean a bit of a hangover for this game against the Knicks. They’ll need to be careful not to focus solely on that Blazer5 game and overlook this one. We all know how the Knicks have fared in the past against the best team in the league…
No matter what the mental state of the 76ers is coming into this, Knicks Gaming will have its work cut out for it. The team has struggled to start the regular season, and only two of iamadamthe1st’s games (two 20-point performances against Magic Gaming) this year can be described with anything but the word dreadful. That’s not what you need when you face two of the best, if not the two best teams in the league. If Adam’s struggles continue, don’t expect much more than a 1-4 start for the defending champs.
Grizz Gaming (0-3) vs. Jazz Gaming (1-2)
Friday, May 3, 10 p.m. EST
This will be the second time in three weeks that Grizz Gaming plays the last game of the week, and maybe it’s for the best. The lowly Grizz have played nothing but ugly NBA 2K all season long, and are the lone team remaining still searching for its first win in either a tournament or the regular season.
It’s hard not to go over the same points we’ve been going over for the past few weeks with Memphis: the offense is uncreative and stale, the talent hasn’t been producing to its full potential and the team can’t close out games. On the bright (faintly bright) side, Vandi showed a flash of what he could be in the team’s loss against Kings Guard Gaming in week two: an efficient offensive dynamite. He had 17 points and 9 assists on 6-for-8 shooting from the field. Bottle that up and the Grizz may actually be cooking with some gas soon.
It will still be an uphill battle, though, and this is a good chance for the Jazz to get something going this season. Utah has been an outright disappointment so far; you can’t have a first and third overall pick on your roster, start out 1-2 while looking shaky and be called anything other than disappointing. But a matchup against Grizz Gaming may just be what the doctor ordered.
Game of the Week: Blazer5 Gaming (3-1) vs 76ers GC (2-1)
Friday, May 3, 6 p.m. EST
One of the few true classic matchups in the NBA 2K League: Blazer5 Gaming vs. 76ers GC, a rematch between the season one Tipoff finalists and the first and second playoff seeds.
The two teams come into this one on slightly opposite sides of the spectrum. Blazer5 Gaming took an opening week loss to Bucks Gaming (a 68-67 double-overtime thriller) but haven’t looked back since, winning its next three games and leaving a trail of destruction behind it. Mama Im Dat Man and OneWildWalnut have firmly staked their claim as the single best duo in the entire league.
Mama in particular has shown off a level of point guard play that has only been matched by counterpart Radiant. His ability to shoot and penetrate and his playmaking vision have made him one of the best players in the world, and he is the biggest reason why Blazer5 is so scary to play at the moment.
Reports of Walnut’s demise have been greatly exaggerated as well. All those worries about how he’ll do in a non-mashing meta have been crumpled up, tossed out the window and ran over by a dump truck. The reigning MVP has been putting up some of, if not the best numbers of any center in the league so far, and his pick and roll game with Mama remains the best there is.
For the 76ers, they experienced big disappointment last week with a loss to upstart Kings Guard Gaming, a game they may have just been a little too cocky about. Radiant wasn’t his normal self with “only” 16 points and 6 assists, but he has a chance to bounce back in a big way against Blazer5 lock LavishPhenom, who has had an up-and-down season to say the least.
But last week’s loss should not distract you from the fact that this still is probably the best team in the league. The 76ers are the Death Star when they’re fully operational, and one loss doesn’t change that.
Two straight losses, though… and we’ll see. But whoever wins this game will have a formidable claim as the best team in all of the league heading into the Turn.
Player to Watch: OneWildWalnut, Blazer5 Gaming
Last year’s MVP is having quite the campaign once again. OneWildWalnut won player of the week in week two for his stellar performance, and he’s poised for another two-game outing this week. The Blazer5 center is averaging a titanic 17.4 points and 14.4 rebounds per game, but it’s the resurgence of the Mama/Walnut pick-and-roll that has sent the Blazers to their hot start.
That pick-and-roll duo has two tough tests this week. The Blazers face Knicks Gaming, who eliminated Blazer5 in a memorable quarterfinal last year. Then, Walnut and co. take on 76ers GC in one of the best rivalries in the league. More particularly, Walnut has two high-level matchups against Goofy, who leads the league in rebounding, and Steez, who with Radiant forms the biggest pick-and-roll challenge to Walnut and Mama. Can Walnut sustain his high level of play against such skilled adversaries?
Big time players make big time plays, and Walnut is a big time player.