Finals Preview: Knicks Gaming vs. HEAT Check Gaming

HEAT Check Gaming aims to make NBA2KLeague history this Saturday.

The squad will head out to New York one last time this season as they square off in the Finals against Knicks Gaming in a best-of-three series to determine the champion of the NBA2KLeague’s inaugural season. Make sure to catch all the action starting at 4:00 PM ET on twitch.tv/HEATCheckGaming.

1. Offense wins games…

HEAT Check Gaming’s journey to the playoffs had a lot to do with the impact Hotshot made following his switch to the Shot-Creating Slasher archetype midway through the regular season. He remains HCG’s offensive juggernaut heading into the finals.

Through three playoff games, the Miami native has averaged a staggering 50.3 PPG while shooting 80.2 percent from the field. The player widely regarded as one of the league’s best centers at the start of the season has been running the offense from the top of the circle possession after possession as a small forward, meticulously breaking down his opponents by weaving his way to the basket for bucket after bucket.

However, he hasn’t done it alone.

Through the playoffs, HCG has shot a respectable 43.3 percent from beyond the arc to keep defenses honest when deciding whether to send help to slow Hotshot. SharpShooterLos, 24k Dropoff, Jalen03303 and Majes7ic combined to shoot 50 percent from three-point range to help eliminate Pistons GT from the playoffs.

Though 76ers GC kept the three-ball in check during the semifinals, HCG’s strategy served its purpose: Force the defense to choose between leaving 76ers GC power forward iFEAST on an island against Hotshot and locking down their assignments, or help off the perimeter to keep the slashing small forward from going off.

iFEAST’s own tweet ultimately came back to haunt him as Philadelphia opted to stay home on defense:

(Spoiler: He couldn’t contain Hotshot).

2. …but defense wins championships.

HEAT Check Gaming’s defense has gotten tougher and tougher as they’ve moved through the quarterfinals and semifinals. In fact, they’ve held their opponents to fewer and fewer points and a lower field goal percentage after each game:

– The squad held Pistons GT to 67 points and 66 percent shooting from the field on 30 made field goals in the first round of the playoffs.

– Then, they held 76ers GC to 63 points and 60 percent shooting from the field on 27 made field goals in Game 1 of the second round and 56 points and 46 percent shooting from the field on 26 made field goals in Game 2 to close the semifinals.

HCG neutralized the secondary and tertiary support for Pistons GT’s and 76ers GC’s offensive engines. In the quarterfinals, LetsGetItRamo did what he had to do for PGT, scoring 29 points on 14-of-15 shooting from the field to go with his 11 rebounds. However, SharpShooterLos locked down Iinsanitty at point guard, while Majes7ic and Jalen03303 focused in on making sure JosephTheTruth had little impact at center in this game. The pair from Detroit ended up combining for 21 points on 21 field goal attempts and five of Pistons GT’s nine turnovers.

As for 76ers GC, Radiant found success in the quarterfinals. The 76ers GC point guard lead his club in scoring (32 points), field goals (13-of-18), and assists (14) in 76ers GC’s 92-73 win over Wizards District Gaming in the first round.

Against HCG however, he was smothered by SharpShooterLos. Radiant may have dished out 32 assists, but he only scored six points on 3-of-11 shooting while turning the ball over a combined four times.

Meanwhile, Steez was the next highest scorer for 76ers GC in the quarterfinals with 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting. Against HCG though, things were not quite as easy. Majes7ic alone had six blocks in the series, combining with Jalen03303 to give him a hard time in the semifinals. The PGT center committed four critical turnovers in Game 1 against HCG.

76ers GC adjusted and pumped their offense through Steez in Game 2 as he scored 30 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the field, but the rest of his team combined for just 33 percent from the field on 12-of-36 shooting.

As these playoffs have shown, HEAT Check Gaming may have found a recipe for success on offense, but it’s the suffocating defense that will have a greater impact on the ultimate results.

3. Who to look out for on Knicks Gaming?

HEAT Check Gaming will need to make sure to lock in on and shut down IamAdamthe1st and Goofy757 this Saturday. The two-man unit has been the driving force of Knicks Gaming’s Cinderella run these playoffs, leading their club to a 3-1 postseason record.

As a Shot-Creating Sharpshooter, IamAdamthe1st has been on a tear, averaging 30.3 PPG through the playoffs, including a sizzling 50 percent from three-point range on 14 made three-point field goals. He’s also averaged 11.3 APG, eventually finding his guys in the right spots for quality buckets.

One of the main benefactors of IamAdamthe1st’s ball-movement is his big man down low, Goofy757. The Slashing Rebounder has averaged 23.4 PPG through the playoffs, while pulling down 13.8 RPG (including 20 in the series clincher against Cavs Legion GC in the semifinals).

When the duo isn’t running a high pick-and-roll, IamAdamthe1st may decide to use a screen to clear some space for himself along the perimeter. He certainly trusts Goofy757 under the rim to clean up any missed shots and secure the quick two with a potential and-1 on the put back.

If HEAT Check Gaming’s lineup choices in the quarterfinals and semifinals are any indication of what to expect in the finals, SharpShooterLos and Majes7ic will have their hands full on Saturday working to contain Knicks Gaming’s two-man unit. Jalen03303 and 24k Dropoff will need to make sure to zero in on any loose balls to help neutralize Goofy757’s rebounding prowess as well.