The second night of week nine sees just three matchups after the Hornets Venom GT vs. T-Wolves Gaming series was postponed. Headlining the night is NetsGC, coming off a huge win over Bucks Gaming, who look to expand their playoff push with a series against fellow playoff hopefuls Pacers Gaming.
76ers GC (3-8) vs. Knicks Gaming (6-6)
Don’t look now, but 76ers GC is on a two-game winning streak, knocking off fellow basement-dwellers Lakers Gaming and Celtics Crossover Gaming in recent weeks. We saw Breadwinner play yet another position, and he excelled, dominating the paint against LA last night. Tonight, he’ll need to do more of the same for Philly to have a chance against a talented but underwhelming Knicks Gaming squad.
Knicks Gaming just feels like a team that should have a better record than 6-6. Pairing the No. 2 overall pick, Duck, with 2019 first-rounder Malik has transformed their backcourt into one of the league’s best. Combine that with a solid lockdown in BigRim, and a rookie center who has come into his own, and their record just doesn’t make sense to me. In reality, tonight should be an opportunity for New York to keep shifting momentum in their favor. Or, I’m dead wrong about them and they disappoint in another series. We will see.
Key Matchup: Radiant/Scretty vs. Duck/Malik
Both of these teams have a pair of backcourt scorers who can run with the best of them. Last night, especially in game three, we saw Radiant and Scretty look like the Philly backcourt of old. Duck and Malik have both enjoyed plenty of individual success this season. Tonight, it’s a battle of which backcourt can outproduce the opposition.
Pistons GT (2-8) vs. Kings Guard Gaming (7-3)
While it’s highly unlikely that the Pistons make a serious run for one of the final playoff spots, they have legitimately built momentum entering the home stretch of the season. Since the Tipoff Tournament, Detroit has yet to be swept, which is a vast improvement over the six times they had been swept before then. We haven’t seen Pistons GT play since their disappointing finish to week seven, in which they became the first team to lose to 76ers GC.
Meanwhile, Kings Guard Gaming is also returning to action after enjoying the previous week off. Bash—who told DIMER that he had spent the time off to surprise his mom for her birthday—has done a good job of buying into the team’s philosophy and has fit seamlessly with all the talent around him. But recently, he’s been showing signs of hunting for his own shot, which in turn has opened up the Kings’ playbook. Detroit has recently struggled with containing some of the rookie point guards this season, so look for Sacramento to give Bash the green light.
Key Matchup: Detroit’s offensive execution vs. Sacramento’s team defense
Unlike most teams, a majority of Detroit’s playmaking doesn’t come from its point guard position. While Demon JT is fully capable of finding his teammates, it’s not uncommon to see other players like Ramo, Charger and DevGoss lead the team in assists on any given night. The Pistons know the Kings sit behind a castle-sized wall on the defensive end, and how well they execute their offensive game plan will go a long way in deciding the result.
Pacers Gaming (5-5) vs. NetsGC (6-4)
After a respectable start to the year, Pacers Gaming is in trouble and could miss out on the postseason fun. Roster issues and question marks have plagued the team the entire season, and while they’ve made bold choices in their search for answers, the same issues remain. But more importantly, time is now running out. Moving Swizurk to point guard hasn’t provided the front office with the results they were looking for, and if Swizurk doesn’t improve his outside shooting percentages, another change could be on the horizon. It’s also a revenge game for NateKahl, whom NetsGC traded to Pacers Gaming this past offseason.
As for NetsGC, the team is coming off a thrilling best-of-three series with Bucks Gaming last night. While the highlight of the series came from Choc’s heroic three-pointer at the game one buzzer, the entire team’s never-say-die attitude and resolve was equally as impressive. When Brooklyn is locked in, they have the talent and bravado to keep up with anyone.
Key Matchup: Jomar vs. Shuttles
Jomar has been consistently solid in a rather inconsistent season for Pacers Gaming. Averaging 2.5 blocks on the year, the Pacers center has been the backbone of a team that has prided itself on its defensive effort. In the team’s most recent loss to Hornets Venom GT, Jomar flirted with a triple double average in points (9.5), rebounds (19.5), and assists (8). Up next is a date with Shuttles, who recorded a breakout game against the Bucks.