BROOKLYN, NY – JUNE 9: Faiz of Nets Gaming Club plays in a match up against Jazz Gaming at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on June 9, 2021. Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images)
By Kristian Cuaresma
Good things come to those who wait.
NetsGC got its first sweep of the season after defeating Jazz Gaming by scores of 81-78 and 77-70. The team had been anchored to the .500 mark during the first two weeks of the season, marred by defensive issues and questions surrounding the lineup. Jazz Gaming entered the night with a 3-1 record and was last seen in action in week one when the team averaged 96 points in a 2-0 sweep of Lakers Gaming.
For a fourth consecutive week, NetsGC made a change to the team’s starting lineup, this time moving back to the double lock we saw against 76ers GC. However, instead of having rookie Faiz as a perimeter threat, he was asked to set up office in the left corner throughout the night. Meanwhile, fellow first-year Dante would slide into the void at left hash. This was an interesting tweak that had many fans and analysts curious due to the dynamic shooting Faiz normally provides opposite star point guard Choc.
The difference was strikingly visible early on, with NetsGC committing four turnovers by the end of the opening quarter. Fortunately for Brooklyn, it was able to get timely stops, forcing a pair of charging calls on Splashy, the prolific scorer for Jazz Gaming who had dropped 30-plus points in his last three outings. Both point guards would activate their respective takeovers midway through the second quarter, but neither were able to get much going outside of a few assists. The half would be capped by an out-of-timeout sequence which involved Choc finding Dante in the corner for a contested three at the buzzer.
In the third, Splashy would find his groove, scoring 15 of his 39 points. Brooklyn would fight back with several impactful plays on both sides of the ball, including Faiz poking the ball loose on a full court press – which led to a Choc three – and a baseline cut for a SlayIsland dunk. The latter would give NetsGC its first lead of the game. Both teams excelled after timeouts and alternated scoring down the stretch of the final quarter.
The drama hit its peak in the final seconds of the game, with Jazz Gaming forcing NetsGC into a turnover which resulted in a game-tying three from Splashy. Tied at 78-78, this set the stage for Choc to hit a game winning three as he reminded fans why he is known as ‘The Fade King’.
Outcome: NetsGC win 81-78
With game two having been a constant thorn in the side of NetsGC this season, it didn’t look good early in the rubber match, with Jazz Gaming starting things off on a 10-4 run. Brooklyn’s struggles were further magnified after it missed its first four shots. However unlike in previous weeks, NetsGC’s success wouldn’t solely rely on its offense, with the team forcing several contested shots. Regardless of Splashy going off for 42 points, NetsGC forced him into two uncharacteristic turnovers which allowed the team to claw its way back to a lead by the end of the first quarter.
While Shotz’ offensive volume took a dip, his impact on offense was clear, providing a steady dose of offensive rebounds that demoralized the Jazz Gaming defense. His chemistry with Choc on the pick and roll flowed into the start of a new connection with Faiz, constantly finding the marksman for several open shots.
Splashy continued to be a one-man wrecking crew in the second half with four points and a steal within the first minute. Like in the previous game, the Jazz Gaming point guard had another stellar third period, this time with a smooth 33 points by the end of the quarter. However, his supporting staff was kept quiet by NetsGC’s defense, holding Expose to three points (averaged 15.5) and Lord Beezus to two points (averaged 9.3). Both squads would trade baskets in the final frame, with NetsGC’s attack spearheaded by Faiz who finished with 29 points (11-of-11), good enough for a regular season game career high for the rookie.
Outcome: NetsGC wins 77-70