By Kristian Cuaresma
Currently holding onto the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 14-8, NetsGC has an opportunity to further cement its spot in the NBA 2K League Season Four playoffs. A 3-1 record last week wasn’t the double sweep outcome Brooklyn was looking for, but the team will take another shot at it with contests against Raptors Uprising GC and the Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai.
Heading into Week Eight, NetsGC is one of four teams in the Eastern Conference that are six games above the .500 mark. With a logjam of teams both on the outside and inside the current playoff bubble, NetsGC can create separation from the rest of the pack and further climb the standings by taking care of business against two teams who have yet to have a positive record this year.
Raptors Uprising GC
SG: Kenny Got Work
PF: All Hail Trey
After an undefeated regular season last year, Toronto brought back most of its core, traded its center for star big man Type, and drafted a pair of players who had familiarity with the program. Up until THE TIPOFF, many experts believed Raptors Uprising had followed a clear recipe for repeat success. Fast forward to today, and the team is on the tail end of a nightmare campaign.
What stands out most when watching this team is the missing defensive pressure that relentlessly forced teams into turnovers. Speeding up the opponent was a signature aspect to every Raptors Uprising game last year, and it consequently allowed the team to ramp up its pace on the offensive end. It was common in Season Three to watch Toronto apply full court pressure, create turnovers, and sink threes in a matter of seconds.
Player to Watch
Dimez – 24.7 points, 9.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 54% FG, 47% 3P
It’s not often that a team with a 5-17 record can confidently headline a marquee matchup this late into the NBA 2K League season. Despite its bottom dwelling status, Toronto’s acquisition of Dimez from Mavs Gaming should garner a significant amount of interest this week. Between Dimez’s debut and Choc status in the race for MVP, this bout has “must-see TV” written all over it.
Trading sharpshooter ReeceMode for Dimez officially signals Toronto’s acceptance of this year’s meta, which caters to dynamic backcourts. Raptors Uprising’s Director of Esports Shane Talbot mentioned on a broadcast last week that Dimez would likely play at point guard, leaving Kenny Got Work to slide over to shooting guard. Despite these labels, NetsGC will certainly gameplan for a duo that can confidently interchange between either guard spots. Thankfully for Brooklyn, it has recently dealt with top backcourts during the last few weeks, specifically against Magic Gaming, Hornets Venom GT, and Knicks Gaming.
Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai
While Toronto is currently experiencing a lackluster season, the Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai continue to struggle with consistency in its sophomore campaign. As an expansion team in 2020, Gen.G bookended moments of high-level play with a frustrating lack of execution. A 6-10 record left a bad enough taste in the organization’s mouth that it prompted daring changes to the roster.
With Shiftykaii’s departure, and the trio of JMoney, Feast, and Bsmoove incoming, the Tigers quickly ushered in a new era around TURNUPDEFENSE, the lone returning player from last season’s roster. Unfortunately for Gen.G fans, the team is still plagued by inconsistencies, with five splits in the last six two-game sets.
Although Gen.G hasn’t been able to shake off its .500 record, the pair of JMoney and Bsmoove has been formidable, with both players in the league’s top 30 in scoring. While JMoney is the clear playmaker of the two, both he and Bsmoove have nearly identical shot attempt totals, indicating they have no qualms sharing the ball with one another. Gen.G’s big man Feast, who has recently switched over to the Paint Beast 1 archetype, is currently averaging 17.1 points and 10.5 rebounds this season.
Player to Watch
BxmpyDon – 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 65% FG, 73% 3P
In addition to the tweak they made with Feast’s player build, another key transformation the Tigers have undergone was moving TURNUPDEFENSE to power forward and BxmpyDon to the lockdown position. Since then, Gen.G has gone 3-1 which includes both an impressive victory over the first place T-Wolves Gaming and the team’s first sweep of the season.
On top of his defensive potential, the No. 44 overall pick in this past draft also boasts the league’s best shooting percentage from deep. At 73.1 percent, the rookie is as automatic as they come out at the perimeter.