The Ticket tournament is over, and we know at least one team for sure who will be playing for a championship in July. For the rest of the league, playoff spots are very much up for grabs. 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.
Kings Guard Gaming (7-4) vs. Knicks Gaming (2-8)
Wednesday, 6 p.m. EST
It’s time to refocus and reset for Kings Guard, who’ve dropped two consecutive games and have lost three straight including the Ticket. That starts with point guard BP, who should take advantage of the new-look Knicks’ pick and roll defense and get his team back on track.
The Knicks are coming off a remarkable Cinderella run at the Ticket, but now, back in the regular season, they’re playing primarily for pride. The new lineup, with 2018 first-rounder Goofy on the bench, looked sharp, but will it hold up against the test of time over the team’s final six games?
Knicks Gaming (2-8) vs. Pacers Gaming (6-4)
Wednesday, June 18, 8 p.m. EST
The Knicks get the Pacers in the second end of a one-hour turnaround, which is quicker than the turnaround they had at the Ticket, where Pacers Gaming knocked off the Knicks in the semifinals. Can the Knicks get a measure of revenge and thrust the Pacers’ playoff hopes into the balance?
Pacers Gaming, meanwhile, is counting on its new lineup to make a strong playoff push after missing an automatic spot by 10 points at the Ticket. Ramo certainly has to keep producing on the post scorer, but it’s Swizurk, moved to point guard, who may hold the team’s fate in his hands.
Warriors Gaming Squad (7-4) vs. Celtics Crossover Gaming (4-5)
Wednesday, June 18, 9 p.m. EST
The Warriors can breathe, finally, because they’re the only team with a playoff berth firmly in hand heading into the final weeks of the season. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to win, however, and they can continue to stay in their groove while sharpening their defense against one of the league’s top point guards.
This game marks the start of do-or-die time for the Celtics, who need as many wins as possible in their league-high seven remaining games. Fab is one of the best point guards in the league, but will he mesh with the supporting cast enough for the Celtics to qualify for their first-ever playoff appearance?
Cavs Legion GC (7-5) vs. Wizards District Gaming (4-6)
Wednesday, June 18, 10 p.m. EST
Cavs Legion has been through the ringer this year, and has also played a league-most 12 games entering this week. They’re not out of the woods in terms of the playoff hunt quite yet, though. The trend of capturing winnable games—which they’ve done on their four-game win streak—has to continue in this one.
The Wizards, too, need this one, even more so since they’re just 4-6 on the year. They’ve gone 4-2 in their last six regular-season games, but the past doesn’t matter if they can’t do even better in their next six. That has to start with a strong offensive performance across the board against Cavs Legion.
Wizards District Gaming (4-6) vs. Pacers Gaming (6-4)
Thursday, June 19, 6 p.m. EST
Wizards District is on the cusp of figuring it out. The question would be if now is too late. The Wizards are coming off a disappointing showing in the Ticket tournament with an opening round loss. But the District is still coming off a regular season week in which they won both of their games.
Currently sitting at 4-6 with four weeks left, the Wizards are going to want to win as many games as they can so they’re less dependent on luck as the numbers will need to fall in their favor if they keep this current pace.
The Pacers, on the other hand, are coming off an extremely impressive showing in which we saw them make their first tournament final appearance in team history. But they’ve hit a bit of a roadblock mid-season, as they lost four of their six games between weeks 5-8.
A big issue seemed to be the Pacers inability to score in the half-court. The Pacers have since made a few changes—most notably moving Ramo to post-scorer and implementing Man In A Car into the lineup—and have since become one of the more well-rounded teams on both sides of the ball.
Pistons GT (1-10) vs. Blazer5 Gaming (10-1)
Thursday, June 19, 7 p.m. EST
This is a true “David vs. Goliath” story. However in this one, David (not to be confused with Daveed 3x from Blazer5) is unlikely to come out victorious. The Pistons are mathematically out of the playoff picture for season two and can use these games to really figure out who they should bring back next year. This is one of the bigger falloffs from season one, as Pistons GT was the third seed in last year’s playoffs.
Blazer5 Gaming is coming off another disappointing tournament showing and it’s an unfortunate spot for Pistons GT to find itself in. But Blazer5 should really use these games to figure out why the must-win games aren’t being won. Blazer5 Gaming is still one of the best teams in the league, but it has gotten to the point where we realize these aren’t the games we’re more interested in seeing them win.
Lakers Gaming (2-9) vs. Kings Guard Gaming (7-4)
Thursday, June 19, 8 p.m. EST
Lakers Gaming is another team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Similar to Pistons GT, the Lakers could really use these games to analyze fits for next season. Outside of that, there’s not much else to play for. The Lakers have more than a few issues to figure out. There is some optimism in being allowed to answer some of those questions and figure some things out prior to the actual offseason.
Kings Guard Gaming is on the opposite side of the spectrum and could really use a convincing win to add to its record. It also wouldn’t hurt to bump up that point differential with the playoff race so close. The Kings have lost three straight games—two in the regular season and one against 76ers GC in the Ticket—and they should be adamant to get results immediately.
Mavs Gaming (10-1) vs. Celtics Crossover Gaming (4-5)
Thursday, June 19, 9 p.m. EST
How does Mavs Gaming react to an upset loss at the hands of Knicks Gaming in Orlando? That’s the big question for this young Dallas team, and this will be just about the most adversity (admittedly it’s not much) that they’ve faced all season. The Mavs go against a tough test here as the Celtics look like a team that has finally figured out their struggles.
Celtics Crossover Gaming were finally a disappointment at a tournament. Maybe that means the Celtics will produce in the much-needed regular season games now. The Celtics have won three straight regular season games and need to keep it going if they want to qualify for the playoffs. They’ve looked their best when they embrace their identity. As long as they keep that up, the Celtics have a fighting chance.
Jazz Gaming (5-5) vs. Blazer5 Gaming (10-1)
Friday, June 20, 6 p.m. EST
There have been some murmurs about Blazer5’s lack of success in tournaments, including the playoffs, since it won the Turn back in season one. What’s good news for Blazer5 and bad news for opponents like Jazz Gaming—who needs a win if it wants to improve its playoff chances—is that they are very much the best regular season team in the NBA 2K League’s existence. At 10-1, a playoff spot is inevitable at this point, but some wins to boost the confidence before yet another first-round-in-a-tournament challenge can’t hurt.
Jazz Gaming will be hoping its latest move will boost its own regular season prowess. They’ve already matched their season one win total with six games to go (good!), but they’ve shown just as much consistency in 2019 as they did in 2018 (not good!). A trade for Lotty, a versatile wing player who gives the team some flexibility in its lineup decisions, could be what the Jazz need to get over the hump and make the playoffs. But it could just as easily be too great a challenge to try and integrate a new player two-thirds of the way into the season. An opening test against Blazer5 is as good as any to see if the former holds true.
Bucks Gaming (6-5) vs. Lakers Gaming (2-9)
Friday, June 20, 7 p.m. EST
In the thick of teams searching for postseason salvation is Bucks Gaming. But sitting at 6-5 with an opening post-Ticket matchup against Lakers Gaming, you can think of much worse positions to be in. The question that must be answered over these last few weeks is who is the point guard of this team, and how will they be incorporated into the offense? You can expect a heavy dose of Plondo and Arooks when playing against the Bucks, and right now you don’t have to worry much about who’s manning the 1. Changing that for the better will go a long way for Milwaukee.
Outside of pride, Lakers Gaming doesn’t have nearly as much to play for as Bucks Gaming. At 2-9 with only one tournament win (against lowly Pistons GT in the group stage of the Tipoff), it has long been time to look ahead to 2020 in L.A. But there could be plenty of a sort of perverse motivation to knock off teams like the Bucks who are gunning for a playoff spot. What better way to end a miserable season than to drag others down in your misery with you?
NetsGC (5-5) vs. Heat Check Gaming (4-7)
Friday, June 20, 8 p.m. EST
This is the most important week of NetsGC’s young history. Two losses will put them on the edge, two wins will put them in a great spot and a split only stalls for time as they search for enough wins to make the playoffs. So far they’ve looked like an average team, and their record and tournament play backs that up. Can they rise to something greater as they push for the postseason?
Let’s be candid here: it doesn’t look good for Heat Check Gaming. Last season’s runner-up couldn’t find consistent play at point guard in a pick and roll-dominated meta, and the switch to Hotshot at the post scorer has probably come too little, too late. There’s some hope, but that hope starts with winning five straight games to close out the season, a task only two teams have accomplished this season. And that’s not considering they’re on a five-game regular-season losing streak at the moment. It’s do or die in Miami.
Jazz Gaming (5-5) vs. Pistons GT (1-10)
Friday, June 20, 9 p.m. EST
The most polarizing doubleheader the NBA 2K League has ever seen, as Jazz Gaming gets a breather after having to face Blazer5 earlier in the night. At the same time, it should be anything but a breather for Utah. There’s no holding back when you’re on the hunt for a playoff spot. Fall for just one trap game, and say goodbye to your season.
Pistons GT is in much the same situation as the Lakers. They can play for pride, and they can play spoiler for playoff hopefuls, but they’ll be more focused on lottery odds than on league standings from here on out.
Bucks Gaming (6-5) vs. Nets GC (5-5)
Friday, June 20, 10 p.m. EST
This could be the biggest game of the season for both of these teams. Depending on how the results go earlier in the night for the Bucks and Nets, this may be a make-or-break match. NateKahl will have his hands full with Arooks, but the big question will be whether the Bucks stick with Plondo on the post scorer. It worked well the first time out, but not so much at the Ticket. Will the Bucks stick with that, or swap him back to his natural center position?
Game of the Week: Warriors Gaming Squad (7-4) vs. Mavs Gaming (10-1)
Wednesday, June 18, 7 p.m. EST
This is the kind of big-time matchup everyone wants to see, even though it has few playoff implications (the Warriors are in, and the Mavs are all but officially in).
Type is going to be very important in this game. The Mavs run a lot of the “Space Jam” play, with the strongside corner power forward setting a pick for Dimez on the wing while the center sets a high off-ball screen for the sharp. Type’s ability to cover a large part of the floor and step in the passing lanes to take away the middle is crucial against that. Who does Gradient guard? He can shut down Mo’s slithery wraps, or he can disrupt Dimez’s game management and on-again, off-again penetration. But he can’t do both, and Type will have to take care of whichever one Gradient doesn’t.
This is an interesting matchup between two sets of first-round pairs. The Warriors have found success with Kina’s game management and Gradient’s all-star defense. The Mavs been a whole new team thanks to Mo’s off-ball movement and Pete’s pick-and-roll game. These two teams also found incredible value in their third-round picks, with Jin and Rux making big impacts at power forward. So far this year, the Warriors have gotten the better of their lone tournament meeting, and the best of two tournaments as a whole. Will they win the head-to-head here, with playoffs no longer in question?
Player to Watch: oFab, Celtics Crossover Gaming
The general tournament success, poor regular season start and recent regular season resurgence haven’t given anyone a good idea on what the Celtics are about.
This could be the week to change that. With matchups against Warriors Gaming Squad and Mavs Gaming—teams undoubtedly and close to undoubtedly making the playoffs, respectively—week nine may just be for all the marbles in Boston.
The obvious starting point if you want to trace back the Celtics’ successes is oFab. Few players do more for their team than the star point guard and season one second overall pick. Even as he prepares to go against Gradient and Sherm, two of the best lockdowns in the game right now, you’d be a little overeager to think there isn’t a chance he can’t put up the same numbers he’s been putting up since the inauguration of the league.
He’ll still need some of the best performances he’s ever put up if he wants to navigate the Celtics to safer shores. The Warriors and Mavs are two of the best teams in the league because they’re just that: teams. They get contributions one through five. The Celtics… not so much. But it’s no more time for excuses, no more time for would’ve, should’ve and certainly not could’ve. It’s do or die.