The NBA 2K League playoffs kicked off in earnest on Thursday night, with two first-round matchups that had trips to the quarterfinals on the line. In the end, Hornets Venom GT extended its dominance of NetsGC and Blazer5 Gaming continued its Ticket momentum.
(8) Hornets Venom GT vs. (9) NetsGC
Game one: 74-69, HVG
Game two: 73-71, HVG
NetsGC opted to bring Chess off the bench in an attempt to strengthen its outside shooting. Brooklyn overcame a slow game one start, taking control of the lead heading into the second half. There were points it seemed Choc and co. could take over and run away with it, but Hornets Venom GT hung around and eventually made a run of its own.
Type had his fingerprints all over the results of game one, recording 23 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals, and 5 blocks, dominating the paint on both ends of the floor. Charlotte headed into game two with all momentum and potential to sweep.
Choc scored relentlessly in game two, repeatedly challenging Charlotte’s stingy interior defense. By halftime, he had 19 points (8-for-12 shooting) already, sinking a three to tie it all up before the second quarter’s final buzzer. Type (10 points, 9 rebounds) and Snubby (11 points, 3 assists) continued to play well for Hornets Venom GT after solid game one performances.
Both teams traded leads for the entirety of the second half, setting us up for an entertaining final few minutes. Snubby caught fire, nailing a trio of attempts from deep during the last quarter. Choc was able to keep NetsGC alive, making a pair of trips to the free-throw line and it was tied 71-71 with barely one shot clock remaining.
Let’s take a look at some of the film from last night’s matchup. The star of our breakdown has to be Type who averaged a ridiculous 22 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks all while making 19-of-20 shots.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Type – Defense to Offense”
- In this first clip, Trap goes under the Choc and Shuttles high screen. Take a look at Type who hedges and takes a quick swipe at Choc, deterring any clean look up top.
- Whether by design or instinct, Zae slides over to lend Type some additional length down in the paint where Choc also likes to create havoc, and Trap immediately “helps the helper” by shooting over to the corner.
- With everything in place, Type times an excellent contest on the second jump and the Hornets are off to the races.
- Conveniently enough, the Hornets reward their big man for running the floor and find him for a thunderous alley-oop.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Type – Creating For Others”
- One thing all elite centers have in common is their confidence and ability to create offense for their teammates.
- Even when Type has the ball up top, there’s no panic from teammates as he takes a second to read the coverage.
- After driving into the paint, he hits Shuttles with a pro hop and actually has him beat with enough room to throw up a shot, but when he notices Wavy come over from the corner, Type throws the ball out to Zae.
- While the Nets do a good job of scrambling back out, Zae at least has the defense on its heels and is able to drive to the basket.
- Type goes the extra mile here though and sets up a screen to make life a bit easier for Zae, ultimately leading to an and-1 opportunity.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Type – Defensive Clinic”
- After an inbound, Choc receives the ball in the short corner and has Trap on his hip as he drives to the basket.
- However, Type sprints over and defends the rim without jumping, causing Choc to second guess himself and reset the offense on the wing.
- On the pick and roll with Shuttles, despite Type playing in a bit of a drop coverage, his presence and the possibility of him jumping out for a contest forces Choc to go back the other way even though he already has Trap caught on the screen.
- Type doesn’t only sniff this out, but he’s already anticipating the play after as it really does look like he knew Choc was going to pass to the corner if his driving lane was taken away .
- With the steal, the Hornets are again off in transition for another easy bucket.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Type – Game Winner”
- In this final clip, let’s break down the game-winner that ended Brooklyn’s season
- It’s important to note that leading up to this moment, Snubby had hit a series of threes using a Type screen.
- During each of those shots, the Nets had either gone under the screen or would get caught in a bumpy animation trying to fight through the pick after Snubby would make his initial move.
- In this play, Randomz didn’t take any chances and aggressively positioned himself on Snubby’s left hip in an attempt to force Charlotte to the weak side of the court and away from the screen.
- Watch how Type and Snubby cohesively work together to create a bit of misdirection when the big man changes his screen positioning to the opposite side, and Snubby backs up a step or two. This allows Type to reset his original screen, but also gives Snubby the room he was looking for to clip Randomz on the pick. If this wasn’t by design, the duo’s ability to improvise worked beautifully here.
- Despite the Nets recovering nicely, Type grabs the blocked shot in a crowd of three Nets and puts up the game-winner.
(7) Mavs Gaming vs. (10) Blazer5 Gaming
Game one: 73-64, B5
Game two: 85-68, B5
Mavs Gaming switched around its starting five as well, moving Dimez to the offensive threat at shooting guard. With more playmaking ability it was clear Dallas wanted him to be aggressive with the ball in his hands early, and he was, but it was Sherm’s 18 points that gave Mavs Gaming the advantage by halftime.
It felt as if Dallas held a five-point advantage for the majority of game one, but Blazer5 changed that, beginning the fourth quarter on a 14-2 run while claiming a double-digit lead. The Portland offense continued to excel, as all five starters recorded 10+ points with MamaImDatMan leading the way at 28, giving a 1-0 advantage to Blazer5 Gaming.
Portland’s late-game one run simply carried over into the first quarter of the second contest. B5 began the game on a 10-0 run, holding Mavs Gaming scoreless for the first two minutes. That first couple of minutes ended up being a bad case of foreshadowing for Dallas.
Heading into the final frame, Portland possessed a controlling 20+ lead. Blazer5 Gaming’s defense displayed improvement during the Ticket and it seemed to take another step during game two of this series. The rotations were flawless and Dallas struggled to get decent looks, resulting in plenty of fastbreak opportunities for Mama and Ma7estic.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Walnut – Defense to Offense”
- It all begins and ends with regular season one MVP OneWildWalnut. While some centers might sit back to give themselves some runway when taking on an opposing big with their takeover, Walnut aggressively jumps the passing lane knowing Dimez has nowhere to go after picking up his dribble.
- Even with Portland sprinting in transition, no one rushes a look and instead we get a total of five passes with the sole purpose of getting the defense moving and scrambling
- Realizing that Walnut has the smaller Spartxn on his back, Majes7ic throws up a likely free board and Walnut calmly waits for his opening before dropping two points.
Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Blazers Team Defense”
- This time it’s Sherm who picks up his dribble before Dallas goes into their double ball handler wrap.
- The Blazers don’t flinch and are ready for the action with Mama and Majes7ic switching on the movement.
- Walnut does a good job of aggressively meeting Dimez after the handoff to take away any clean looks from outside, and then LavishPhenom leaves the corner to pick up the rolling PeteBeBalling (At this point of the game, Spartxn was 0-for-2 from the field).
Despite the sequence ending in a foul, the Blazers were intent on making life difficult for Dallas’ dynamic playmakers. As we progress deeper into the playoffs, look for Portland to effectively take away what teams do best.