NetsGC clinched its first-ever playoff berth last Friday in a thrilling and ecstatic conclusion to what was a nerve wracking week of NBA 2K League action.
Brooklyn split its final two series of the regular season, taking down Knicks Gaming then falling to Hornets Venom GT, meaning the team required outside to help secure its historic postseason spot with an 8-8 record.
In the end, everything broke NetsGC’s way as it did just enough to earn the 9th seed and avoid having to run the gauntlet at next week’s TICKET tournament.
The week started with a tight series against crosstown rival Knicks Gaming. Not only was it the third time the two sides would face off since season two, but the Knicks also needed a win in order to keep their hopes of playoff qualification via regular season alive.
The team played exactly like it was do-or-die in game one. Knicks Gaming jumped out to a 20-15 first quarter lead and maintained its advantage at 40-34 heading into halftime. The duo of Duck and OriginalMalik, as it has all season for New York, led the way with 15 and 12 points, respectively, while CantGuardRob controlled the boards with 10 rebounds at the break.
NetsGC closed in slightly on Knicks Gaming by winning the third quarter 17-15, but the latter did well to close the game out. Duck and OriginalMalik put the finishing touches on solid performances expected of the talented duo. The former finished with 26 points and 11 assists while the latter added 23 and 7 in an eventual 75-65 Knicks Gaming win.
Game two was a back-and-forth affair. NetsGC bounced back with a strong first half to lead 38-32 after 12 minutes, but Knicks Gaming was undeterred. New York responded with a 23-13 third quarter to take the lead, but NetsGC came back in the final frame to take home a close game two, 72-69. Four Nets reached double-digit scoring: Choc had 28 points, Shuttles 16, Potts 15, and Randomz 13.
Game three was a more comfortable affair for NetsGC. Brooklyn jumped out to an eight-point lead in the first quarter and expanded on that to take a 37-28 advantage into the half.
Knicks Gaming provided some fight, led by Duck’s 42 points, but NetsGC did well to shut down the rest of New York’s roster en route to a 67-60 win that the Knicks were never really in.
Choc led the scoring for Brooklyn with 29 points and got the rest of his team involved with 12 assists. Shuttles ended the game with his third double-double of the night at 14 points and 12 rebounds on six-for-seven shooting, and Randomz was right behind with 13 points. The win improved Brooklyn’s record to 8-7.
— Brooklyn NetsGC (@NetsGamingCrew) August 5, 2020
On Wednesday, NetsGC started well in game one against Hornets Venom GT, initially jumping out to a 14-10 lead, but a 10-0 run from Charlotte allowed the opposition to enter the second quarter up by six points. The Hornets rode that momentum in the second quarter behind Snubby and Type to take a 33-24 lead into halftime.
Those two kept the pressure up against Brooklyn in the second half. Snubby finished with 24 points and 6 assists, Type ended with 26 points and 12 rebounds, and Expose added 11 points in a 70-56 Charlotte win that NetsGC couldn’t climb back into after the first quarter.
Hornets Venom GT seemed to keep its momentum into game two, starting with a 7-0 run, but NetsGC fought back to take a 17-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. The lead grew behind tight team defense and efficient scoring efforts from Choc, Randomz, and Shuttles, eventually leading to a 39-24 halftime advantage for Brooklyn.
NetsGC opened the second half with a clutch 3-point heave from Wavy as the shot clock expired, and the team’s offense and defense were firing on all cylinders. Choc in particular looked hungry for a playoff spot, leading the way for Brooklyn and even being on the receiving end of an alley-oop from Potts.
— Brooklyn NetsGC (@NetsGamingCrew) August 6, 2020
The point guard finished with 29 points and 10 assists in the win. The Hornets managed to claw back into the game and even cut the lead to just two points multiple times, with a chance to either tie or take the lead late, but Snubby missed a 3-point shot with just 8 seconds to go and NetsGC closed out a 67-64 win to tie the series. Randomz added 14 points and Shuttles secured a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double in the victory.
The two teams wasted little time jumping right into the critical game three. Hornets Venom GT carried over some of its game two momentum into the series-decider, but NetsGC matched them every step of the way to start as the teams were deadlocked at 18-all following the first six minutes.
The backcourt duo of Snubby and Expose combined for 24 points in the first half to give Charlotte a 38-32 lead at halftime. Choc led the way for Brooklyn with a 15-point effort, but the Hornets’ superior outside shooting (six-for-six) ensured their advantage at the break.
Hornets Venom GT started to run away with it early in the third quarter, but two straight NetsGC and-ones, first for Randomz on a fast break score and then for Shuttles, kept Brooklyn right in it, along with a Randomz 3-pointer late into the shot clock on the next possession. Despite the momentum, the Hornets held onto a 59-54 lead heading into the deciding quarter.
That lead was extended when Charlotte went on a 6-0 run to start the final six minutes. The run was indicative of how the rest of the quarter would go, as the Hornets Venom GT locked up on defense and did more than enough on offense to secure the game three win, 79-70, and the series, 2-1.
The loss wasn’t the end of NetsGC’s playoff hopes. There were multiple scenarios that could have led to the team clinching its first-ever postseason appearance. The most probable path was to hope Magic Gaming and 76ers GC could beat T-Wolves Gaming and Blazer5 Gaming on Thursday night, respectively, and then for Wizards District Gaming to beat 76ers GC on Friday. That scenario would allow Bucks Gaming and the Hornets to clinch two of the final spots, and for Brooklyn to advance at 8-8 on tiebreakers.
Thursday night provided just what NetsGC needed. Magic Gaming swept T-Wolves Gaming and 76ers GC earned a 2-1 win over Blazer5, meaning Brooklyn’s season came down to the 76ers GC-Wizards District Gaming series less than 24 hours later. In what turned out to be a nervy, back-and-forth affair, Washington got a game one win, but Philadelphia struck back in game two to tie the series. Game three was close to start, but the Wizards–who finished with the 4th seed on the year–eventually pulled away in a 75-60 victory to secure NetsGC’s playoff berth.
🚨 WE’RE IN 🚨
We’ve clinched the 9th seed and our first ever playoff berth in franchise history! pic.twitter.com/b9egWqmox7
— Brooklyn NetsGC (@NetsGamingCrew) August 8, 2020
“It feels great,” said NetsGC Head Coach and General Manager Ivan “OGKINGCURT” Curtiss. “We have been through a lot this season, so to see my guys have a chance to play for a championship is huge for them and the organization.
“What makes us a threat in the playoffs is that there is nothing new you can throw at us that we haven’t seen. We have competed tough against everyone on our schedule and have played in more game threes than any team in the league. We are definitely battle tested.”
Preparation will be key for the playoffs, but the work has already begun.
“Once we found out that we were in, the guys went straight to work. We will test out different lineups and get as many productive reps in as we can. Also team bonding will be important. I love this team and organization. We are excited but not finished.”
NetsGC will rematch eighth-seeded Hornets Venom GT in the first round of the playoffs, with the date and time of that matchup still to be announced. The winner of Brooklyn-Charlotte will move on to face undefeated Raptors Uprising GC. The NBA 2K League playoffs tip off Thursday, Aug. 20.