By Kristian Cuaresma
Nets Gaming Crew return to 5v5 action this week in THE TURN, the NBA 2K League’s annual midseason tournament. Unlike in previous years, THE TURN will not feature archetype bans, allowing teams to focus on the builds they’re most comfortable with. One reason why this is beneficial to teams is due to the new tournament format this season. With a limited number of 5v5 games, teams will be given an opportunity to fine tune their strategies headed into the home stretch of the playoff race.
Another reason this is helpful, particularly for NetsGC, is because of the recent trade for King Haad. The point guard was acquired from Hornets Venom GT in exchange for Tate. The swap of teenage point guards signals an attempt by both franchises to make the most out of the core they currently have in-house. NetsGC will need to take advantage of every rep available to them if they want to maintain their current playoff positioning.
Tonight marks the first time Brooklyn has played 5v5 since its early first-round exit to Heat Check Gaming in THE TIPOFF. NetsGC had entered in-person bracket play with high hopes after finishing group play in first place with a 4-1 record. Due to uncharacteristic turnovers and a sputtering offense, NetsGC fell 56-52 and left the NBA 2K League studios in Indianapolis empty-handed.
With four points under their belt, NetsGC begin group play of THE TURN in an advantageous position but must fend off a unique lineup of teams over the next two weeks. Their first opponent – Hawks Talon GC – struggled mightily in THE TIPOFF but followed it up with an impressive showing in 3v3.
Hawks Talon GC Expected Lineup
Players to Watch
Ceez – 19.0 points, 7.2 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 43% FG, 37% 3P
As the 11th pick in the 2021 NBA 2K League draft, there have always been high expectations placed on Ceez, especially as the point guard. However, in a rookie year that was littered with off-the-court distractions, Ceez could not wait for a fresh start headed into this season. Unfortunately, it did not go well in THE TIPOFF, with Ceez struggling to return to form and his numbers seeing a dip across the board. He did manage to boost morale in Atlanta with a surprising showing in 3v3, but he will need to figure out how to translate that success over to THE TURN if Hawks Talon GC want to begin their ascend from the basement of the 5v5 standings.
Hotshotx305- 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, 72% FG
As soon as season one concluded, Hotshotx305 was a household name in the NBA 2K community. Despite losing in the inaugural NBA 2K League finals to Knicks Gaming, Hotshotx305 was the star of Heat Check Gaming’s 5-out offense and had all the momentum in the world. However, he has yet to reach the levels of success he did in year one and now finds himself playing for a new team for the first time in his career. Despite the change in scenery, Hotshotx305 is still a dangerous weapon and often stuffs the stat sheet. His amazing feel for the game and ability to read the defense that was best on display back in Season One is still evident today.
While NetsGC is not in a position to overlook any of its opponents, it is important that they win this matchup considering their group consists of the defending champions Wizards DG, and two opponents they have already lost to in Heat Check Gaming and Knicks Gaming. Dropping this game would not put Brooklyn out of the race, but it would put the team on high alert earlier in the process than they would prefer.
After a hectic weekend for the rookie, King Haad will make his NetsGC debut tonight. The fact that he had to uproot his life, change his routine, and get familiar to a new environment in a matter of days won’t matter to the critics if NetsGC drop their opener. If King Haad can inject an aggressive playstyle to the team’s offense in a winning effort, it should temporarily quiet the doubters.
Hawks Talon GC’s lockdown defender Swann often is criticized on social media after their losses, but it should be noted that he had his best game in the team’s lone 5v5 win of the season. Against a contender in 76ersGC, he finished with 10 points on 80% shooting and zero turnovers. While he is not likely to light up the scoreboard or rack up a bevy of steals, NetsGC should take note if Swann begins to build up confidence. As much as he has struggled, Swann’s contributions have the potential to swing the outcome of the game.