By Kristian Cuaresma
Despite a valiant attempt, NetsGC could not find the second half surge it needed in either of its games last night and fell 2-0 to Wizards District Gaming. NetsGC led by six points at half in both games but as the contest progressed, the defending champions grew stronger. The pair of losses brought Brooklyn back to .500 while creating separation for Washington in the Eastern Conference standings.
Game One Recap
Both teams were stellar on defense to begin the first game, with coverages shading towards the opposing point guard in pick-and-roll sets. With star guards Choc and JBM on the court, NetsGC and Wizards DG went out of its way to take away three-point attempts, opting to gamble on swing rotations out of the corners or cheating hash defenders.
In the second quarter, NetsGC would circulate that defensive rhythm into the paint and forced Wizards DG’s center Dayfri into two straight turnovers, both leading to points in transition. Just before half, a takeover bolstered Choc would break Wizards DG lock Just Awkward’s ankles before skying to the rim to posturize Newdini. NetsGC held the reigning champions to 28 points at half, one of its best defensive performances of the season.
To begin the third quarter, Dayfri took on the duty of defending Brooklyn’s pick-and-roll. Washington would also continue to freeze Choc out of the offense, with the reigning NBA 2K League Player of the Week finally getting his first clean look at a three at the 3:21 mark. With the game slowing down, Wizards DG would claw its way back until a JBM three from the top of the arc gave the team a 45-44 lead. Washington would ride that momentum to a 24-13 quarter.
Both teams would trade baskets in the fourth which put additional pressure on NetsGC down the stretch. An unexpected steal by Faiz resulting in a Shotz dunk would bring the team within three points with 32 seconds remaining, but that’s as close as NetsGC would get as JBM would knock down a three moments later.
Outcome: Wizards DG wins 76-70
Game Two Recap
The rematch’s opening half would play out nearly identical to the previous game. Both NetsGC and Wizards DG made it difficult for the opposing offenses to get into a rhythm. Several of Brooklyn’s baskets came off a turnover and the team finishing in transition, like when Faiz stripped JBM which led to a high-flying dunk from Dante. The rookie duo would account for nine of the team’s 16 points to finish the first quarter.
Both SlayIsland and Dayfri would put on a display of defensive skills in the second quarter. SlayIsland ended up getting caught guarding the pick-and-roll – normally he’s playing the paint as center – but still moved his feet enough to force Wizards DG into a tough shot. Meanwhile, Dayfri’s block to force a 24 second shot clock violation set the tone for his team to begin the quarter.
Dayfri’s versatility was felt throughout all 48 total minutes and made it difficult for NetsGC to keep up with Wizards DG. The center averaged 23.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 7.5 assist, 2.0 steals and 2.5 blocks during last night’s two-game set.
In the fourth quarter, turnovers by the NetsGC offense and momentum killing threes from Wizards DG role player BRich would make a comeback extremely difficult. Dante contributed with a career high 18 points – he has finished with double digit points in three of the last four games – but it would not be enough as NetsGC suffered its first sweep of the regular season.
Outcome: Wizards DG wins 65-73