By Kristian Cuaresma
Here are three things to highlight from NetsGC’s 23-2 defeat to Heat Check Gaming.
Game 1: NetsGC wins 23-20
Game 2: Celtics Crossover wins 22-18
Game 3: Celtics Crossover wins 23-14
Game 4: NetsGC wins 21-18
Game 5: Celtics Crossover wins 18-22
1 – A Birthday Surprise
When the lineups were announced, it caught many by surprise to see NetsGC select Steez instead of NBA 2K League All-Star Shotz. However, as mentioned on the league broadcast, Steez has a 3v3 background, a realization that was not lost on NetsGC’s Head Coach OGKINGCURT. Despite it being his birthday, Steez was his usual productive and reliable self on the virtual court, playing sound defense and making clutch plays on offense.
The second surprise may have been that Steez was playing as the team’s lock, thus moving Streetz to the big man position. Whether it was to counteract the newly formed 3v3 meta, or because Steez felt more comfortable at lock, it was both unique and fun to watch the five-year veteran play a different role. Regardless of his position, Steez stood out when he was grabbing rebounds, particularly on one possession where he hauled in three offensive boards.
2 – Doc vs. FT
With extensive knowledge of 3v3, many predicted that Doc would take over as the lead guard. While he has struggled with his offense lately, the sophomore sniper is still one of the best dribblers in the game. Having weaponized his skillset, especially during Week One of THE TIPOFF on his way to Player of the Week honors, Doc was primed to dominate on the vast playground that is the 3v3 court.
Unfortunately, it didn’t produce the results NetsGC had been hoping for. There were moments where Doc looked brilliant, but the offense did not seem sustainable. Doc will be the first to tell you there were several jumpers he wished he could take back. Celtics Crossover was more than willing to switch their point guard and lock on screens, believing that FT could handle his own – and to Boston’s credit, FT did a respectable job of holding onto Doc. Context aside, fans should not expect Doc to shoot that poorly moving forward.
3 – Learning Experience
Every season, teams want to get off to a quick start to get their confidence going. It was the same approach for teams a few weeks ago in group play of THE TIPOFF. While a similar logic can be applied to THE SLAM, there is an undeniable sense of uncertainty that comes with 3v3. This is the first time in league history that players have changed their routine, playstyle, and mindset. Like in all esports and sports, professionals pride themselves on the countless reps they put in during practice. It will take some time before a skill gap materializes, however whether NetsGC or any team can afford that time remains to be seen.