After a crazy week seven, things are a bit more subdued (on paper) for week eight, with most of the league’s elite teams enjoying a bye week. Alas, it is still our duty to preview. 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.
76ers GC (5-4) vs. NetsGC (5-4)
Wednesday, 6 p.m. EST
The 76ers come into this one fresh off a takedown of previously unbeaten Mavs Gaming, and although they’ve looked shakier than we’ve come to expect recently, everyone knows that counting out the 76ers is a foolish move. If ZDS’ 39-point outburst is any indication of future performances, the 76ers might have taken “lethal” to another level.
NetsGC, quietly, has pieced together a season-saving three-game win streak thanks in no small part to a lineup change that saw Lav move to point guard and Wavy.zay switch to small forward. They’ll need more of the same to compete with 76ers GC, but the Nets could pick up a statement win and guarantee themselves a top seed for the Ticket with an upset here.
Lakers Gaming (1-8) vs. Knicks Gaming (1-7)
Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST
It hasn’t been the season Lakers Gaming hoped it would be, though they’ve got some nice pieces to build on. This is a winnable game for the West Coast outfit, with Kev and Mootyy primed for some big games against a Knicks Gaming defense that hasn’t looked particularly sharp of late.
It’s an eminently winnable game for the Knicks, though, who’ve got more of an offensive identity—heavy pick-and-roll—while struggling defensively. At this point, all eyes are once more turned to the Ticket, where Knicks Gaming will almost certainly have to pull off a second consecutive miracle run to make the playoffs.
Wizards District Gaming (2-6) vs. Raptors Uprising GC (4-5)
Wednesday, 8 p.m. EST
It looked like the Wizards had roared back into the thick of things with a 2-0 week, but a subsequent 0-2 effort showed that this team still has a ways to go and a has lot of luck needed to clinch a playoff berth traditionally. One bright spot has been the emergence of ReeseDaGod, who’s turned into the team’s best scorer and one of the better offensive players in the league.
The Raptors could use a win here to spark their late-season surge (they went 7-1 to close out last season), and getting consistent production from Kenny is just the ticket. The new lineup, with newly acquired Sick playing some of the best 2K of his life, is working, but all the constituent parts haven’t completely coalesced yet to produce win after win.
Lakers Gaming (1-8) vs. Hawks Talon GC (4-4)
Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST
We could see an interesting post-scorer matchup here as the Lakers have previously deployed Vert on the same build as Shotz. The gameplanning may prove crucial in this one, and that’s one aspect of play that the Lakers haven’t been able to fully institute yet.
The Cavs may have exposed a way to (somewhat) defend against DayBoyShotz and his post scorer, but don’t count out the gameplanning and sheer skill of Wes Acuff and Shotz. If this team hits its shots, no pun intended, early, watch out. Shotz has played himself into MVP discussion, and potential MVPs know that losing to a worse team in the middle of a playoff race is not an option.
Wizards District Gaming (2-6) vs. Knicks Gaming (1-7)
Wednesday, 10 p.m. EST
Both teams will be coming off games early in the night, with the Wizards taking the dubious honor of the quicker timeslot turnaround. Look for Dayfri to wreak some havoc in this one against the Knicks’ offense, while the Wizards will need to be careful to stick to Malik and his shooting ability as he races around the arc.
Heat Check Gaming (4-5) vs. Magic Gaming (5-4)
Thursday, 6 p.m. EST
Heat Check Gaming, losers of 3 of its last 4 since acquiring point guard Hood, aren’t blessed with the easiest set of games to right the ship. But if last year showed us anything, this team knows how to get the job done when their backs are against the wall. No question Hood is going to need to start performing at a more productive clip than what he has shown in recent weeks. Outside of Hotshot, Heat Check hasn’t shown much promise on the offensive end.
One of the hottest teams in the league, Magic Gaming, isn’t an ideal team to face right now. The void in its lineup at the beginning of the season (a point guard) seems to have been figured out. And ToxsiK had his best set of games during his first week with Magic Gaming last week. The Magic can’t let up, as the majority of the teams behind them in the standings are within one win, including Heat Check Gaming.
Needless to say, this game is huge for playoff implications and momentum headed into The Ticket tournament.
T-Wolves Gaming (3-6) vs. Hawks Talon GC (4-4)
Thursday, 7 p.m. EST
The victim of the league’s biggest comeback in league history, T-Wolves Gaming is going to have to show its knack for moving on quickly again. As this team has shown time and time again, with all the turmoil its been through this year (trade requests, slow starts, etc.), the T-Wolves have proven a few times that they have short-term memory. Consider this week another chance to showcase that.
Hawks Talon GC continues to impress, then disappoint. Continuing its trend of winning a game then following up the win with a loss, the Hawks undoubtedly need to figure out how to string together some wins consistently to solidify a playoff berth. Some positive news is that they did beat one of the better teams in the league in Warriors Gaming Squad last week.
Pacers Gaming (5-3) vs. Raptors Uprising GC (4-5)
Thursday, 8 p.m. EST
The Pacers seem to be on a downhill trend. After starting the season off 4-0 and locking up the top seed for the Turn tournament, Pacers Gaming has now lost 3 of its last 4 games. Understanding that, consider this matchup a must-win for a team trying to hold onto a top-five spot in the standings heading into the Ticket tournament. The defense is still top-tier but it has some major voids on both ends that need to be figured out if it intends to continue to be an elite team in this league.
Raptors Uprising has shown some promise since acquiring Sick from Cavs Legion GC. One thing is for sure though, namely that Kenny is the offensive threat for this team. The move to power forward last week proved to be a huge mistake, as they lost by 22 points to Magic Gaming while he scored 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting from the field. Going into the game against the Grizz, they moved him back to the sharpshooting role at small forward and won (Kenny scored 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting). Lineup changes are expected with a new addition, but don’t mess with what has been working for you all season.
76ers GC (5-4) vs. Pistons GT (1-8)
Thursday, 9 p.m. EST
It seems teams are starting to live with gameplanning for Radiant and seeing how else on the team can beat them, similar to how teams were playing Kings Guard Gaming and BP earlier in the year. Fortunately for 76ers GC, ZDS showed up for a career-high 39 points in the win against undefeated Mavs Gaming. This just shows the Sixers can still be one of the best teams in the league when they want to be, but none of that matters if they don’t make the playoffs.
Pistons GT continues to push itself further into the lower tier of the league as each week passes. This matchup seems to be more of a scrimmage for 76ers GC to get things right rather than an actual matchup, but as much parity as this league has shown, no result would shock us. The lone bright spot, May, continues to provide elite center play, but unfortunately someone else needs to step up as well. We saw a few games with Jaacko at sharpshooter, early on in the year, in which he provided a much-needed offensive spark. However, since acquiring sharpshooter DevGoss from Hawks Talon GC, we’ve yet to see Jaacko back in that role.
Jazz Gaming (4-4) vs. T-Wolves Gaming (3-6)
Friday, 7 p.m. EST
How does a team follow up losing a game in which it had an 18-point lead midway through the 4th quarter? We’re about to find out in week eight with the slate of matchups of T-Wolves Gaming, they of little ability to close out games. While their opponents this week could be worse, both Hawks Talon GC and Jazz Gaming will be motivated to claw their way out of the mess that is the 7th through 16th places in the standings.
Jazz Gaming has two winnable games this week. But of the teams in the aforementioned middle of the pack, there’s one consistent quality among them: inconsistency. You can see it in the record column with their 4-4 record, and you can see it on the court with play one week that makes them look like a playoff team and then play the next that makes you wonder how they even have a .500 record. Lately, it’s been the latter, as Utah couldn’t manage a win against Nets GC or even the struggling Wizards. Every game matters more than ever now, and the Jazz have to realize that another run of bad results at this point in the season could spell doom for their playoff hopes.
Pacers Gaming (5-3) vs. Grizz Gaming (3-4)
Friday, 8 p.m. EST
If you missed it, we officially dubbed Pacers Gaming the “show me something” team of the league, taking the throne from Mavs Gaming. Ever since an 80-42 thrashing of Jazz Gaming in the opening week of the season, the Pacers’ margins of victory have mostly been thin and the team hasn’t been able to get it done against the league’s best teams, and week seven losses to Warriors Gaming and Blazer5 Gaming will do little to prove otherwise. And that’s not counting the fact they’re also 0-2 in tournament elimination games on the season, both losses to Celtics Crossover. The rest of Indiana’s schedule won’t reveal much on that front, with games only against mid-tier and bottom-tier teams left, and a week 11 date with 76ers GC being the highlight of it all. The Pacers will probably make the playoffs; their record is in their favor and they have the talent. But they can still make a statement by showing how good they are if they can get a few big wins to close this season out.
Very much in that mid-tier is Grizz Gaming, 3-1 in their last four games after starting the season 1-4. Key to that rise has been Vandi, but more on that later. This is a similar situation to the one the Grizz found themselves in last season: a slow start followed by better results that give them a glimmer of playoff hope. Last season’s iteration of Memphis faltered down the stretch. How will this season’s version of the team respond? A win against a defensively tight Pacers team would be a good start for their playoff chances.
Jazz Gaming (4-4) vs. Heat Check Gaming (4-5)
Friday, 9 p.m. EST
If you want games with playoff implications, this is the week for you. Two more teams in the cluster going at it in a Friday night game that could virtually eliminate one of them from playoff contention, depending on the results in their first games of this week. An 0-2 week for Heat Check would certainly be a disaster and set them at 4-7, meaning they’d have to win out just to reach 9-7, a record that is far from a guaranteed playoff spot. Jazz Gaming’s situation would hardly be better should they drop to 4-6, as everything about their season tells you there’s little chance they could rattle off six straight wins. The fate of these two teams could very well rest on week eight.
Pistons GT (1-8) vs. Grizz Gaming (4-5)
Friday, 10 p.m. EST
Duane Burton and co. had a week all to themselves to figure out what they want to do with their lineup. That’s a good thing for the struggling Pistons, who haven’t seemed to quite figure out how they want to deploy players like iiNsaniTTy and Jaacko on the floor. The Pistons are simply playing for more ping pong balls at this point, but taking inventory and figuring out who will be a piece for the organization moving forward is crucial in the coming weeks. Knowing how your players mesh when put in the best position to succeed is the first step to answering those big questions.
Simply put, this is a must-win for the Grizz. If you want to be a playoff team, you have to beat the lottery teams. A loss here would be disastrous. The Pistons showed they can strike at any moment when they took down Bucks Gaming all those weeks ago, so overlooking Detroit now could be a dagger through the hearts of Memphis.
Game of the Week: Magic Gaming (5-4) vs. Bucks Gaming (5-5)
Friday, 6 p.m. EST
Normally we have a high-profile matchup in this slot, but with Blazer5 Gaming, Mavs Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming and Warriors Gaming Squad all on bye, this is what we got.
That’s not to say this game isn’t important. It’s massively important. This is the biggest match of the week between two teams in the cluster, and a battle of two squads on opposite trajectories. Bucks Gaming was a community darling after many doubts following the team’s draft were made obvious. But a 4-2 start has given way to a 1-3 regular season stretch that sees the team at .500 beyond the halfway point of its season. That’s a precarious spot to be in at the moment, with a mass of teams either just behind or just ahead of them. That’s the theme of the week.
Magic Gaming, in contrast, are looking solid. Two enormous wins against the Raptors and 76ers last week brought them from the cusp right back into the thick of things, thanks in no small part to Reizey. The rookie point guard has found his rhythm, now averaging about 16 and 9 and looking well worth the 9th overall pick which the Magic invested in him. He’ll have to outduel ARooks in this one if he wants to continue Orlando’s success and have the Magic feeling confident heading into home court advantage at next week’s Ticket.
Player to Watch: Vandi, Grizz Gaming
The Grizz are still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot, sitting at 4-5 on the year. They have the tough quick-turnaround Friday night slot, with two games at 8 and 10 p.m. The matchups are good and bad: Pistons GT in the nightcap is a very winnable game, but Pacers Gaming at 8 is the game that will show the Grizz’s mettle.
Vandi’s been much improved, subtly, from his early season malaise. He’s averaged a very respectable 15.3 points and 7.5 assists per game in Grizz Gaming’s four contests since the Turn, in which the team has posted a 3-1 record. He’s been more authoritative and the Grizz as a team have been much better off for it.
These two games are crucial. They’re the difference between a high seed in the Ticket and a 6-5 record entering it and a play-in game in the Ticket and a 4-7 record, most likely not good enough for the playoffs. Vandi playing well in these games could make all the difference in the world.