By Kristian Cuaresma
NetsGC has reached both the end of group play and their overall run in THE TURN, the NBA 2K League’s annual midseason tournament. Things have not gone according to plan, with Brooklyn on a 5v5 six-game losing streak resulting in a tournament record of 0-4. NetsGC is currently the only team in the Eastern Conference without a group play win. To officially conclude their run in THE TURN, NetsGC will play Knicks Gaming in a rematch of an earlier contest.
In what was a Game of the Week for the league, both teams played for the throne of New York, with Knicks Gaming ultimately getting the 85-82 victory. At the time, it was Brooklyn’s first loss of the season. Unfortunately, NetsGC has yet to stop the bleeding, with the team having lost every game since then.
Ironically, each of NetsGC’s recent games have mirrored that Friday night in mid-April against their state rivals. Brooklyn has been on the wrong side of several tightly-contested games that only end in a heartbreaking turnover or missed opportunity. While a win tonight will not revive their dreams of qualifying for bracket play, it would still have significant ramifications on what the endgame in August looks like.
Knicks Gaming Expected Lineup
Players to Watch
Ant SZN – 16.8 points, 8.1 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 37% field goal, 35% 3P
Like NetsGC, Knicks Gaming also made a move for a new point guard. For New York, the only difference was that it required parting ways with a staple of their offense. Selected with the second overall pick in the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft, Duck was synonymous with the Knicks Gaming’s brand of basketball. His replacement is Ant SZN, the rookie who was selected by Kings Guard Gaming late in the second round of the 2022 draft. For Ant SZN to successfully take on the mantle of lead guard, he will need to quickly adapt to playing point guard after having previously slotted in at the two spot for Sacramento.
Whatsstick – 11.5 points, 1.2 assists, 2.7 steals, 60% field goal, 43% 3P
The rookie lockdown was in the middle of an alarming shooting slump before finally breaking through in New York’s last game. In their matchup against Magic Gaming, Whatsstick exploded for a career-high 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He also set a personal best in three-pointers made in a single game with five. Before last night, he was shooting a pedestrian 22 percent from the perimeter. Fortunately for Knicks Gaming, the main reason they drafted Whatsstick was for his defensive talents, and the rookie has brought it on that end in nearly every game this season.
Depending on perspective, this temporary exit from 5v5 play is a relief or an inconvenient break for NetsGC. After tonight, the team will not play another 5v5 game until Seed Week in early July. The team has issues to resolve in 3v3, but it cannot help to have the sting of a disappointing 5v5 run loom over everyone’s heads. Brooklyn desperately needs a win to boost the locker room’s morale and a victory against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams will help.
The defense will likely show up again, but all eyes will be on the offensive side of the ball. NetsGC General Manager and Head Coach OG KING CURT will look to his backcourt to put together a full game. King Haad has not been able to carry over his successful starts to the second half and Doc is still searching in the dark for the fuse that could spark his explosive talents. Meanwhile, Streetz is due for a big game out of the corner after being held scoreless last night against Heat Check Gaming.