Playoff Preview: HEAT Check Gaming vs. Pistons GT

Win or go home.

That’s the scenario facing HEAT Check Gaming (8-6) as they square off against Pistons GT (9-5) in a single-elimination match Friday night at 7:00 PM ET. Catch all the action on twitch.tv/HEATCheckGaming.

1. These two teams last faced off in the regular season opener. What’s the difference between this HEAT Check team and the one Pistons GT faced at the beginning of the season?

Though they crossed paths once already (Detroit pulled off a 70-62 comeback win over Miami in the season opener), it’s safe to assume HCG will look nothing like it did back at the start of the season. That has to do with a big decision to shuffle the team composition midway through the regular season.

For the opener, Hotshot’s Rebounding Athletic Finisher archetype was surrounded by a trio of floor-spacers (Majes7ic’s Sharpshooting Playmaker and Hyper Is Pro & SharpShooterLos’ Pure Sharpshooters,) while 24k Dropoff locked down the paint as a Pure Rim Protector. Through three quarters, things were looking up for Miami, as HCG led by as many as seven points and held a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

However, spacing down low became an issue for Hotshot midway through the final period, while IInsaniTTy and Lets Get It Ramo were able to score some big buckets on the other end of the court to push the lead out of HCG’s reach.

Since then, HCG Head Coach/GM Famous Enough has tinkered with his lineup and found success with Hotshot as a small forward using the Shot-Creating Slasher archetype while continuing to deploy floor spacers and, occasionally, a Slashing Stretch Five to give the offense a bit more firepower. In fact, HCG went on a blistering five-game win streak using this combination, which ultimately led to a playoff berth and put the team’s first-round pick squarely in the MVP conversation as the season wound down.

Through the first eight games of the regular season with Hotshot as a Rebounding Athletic Finisher, HCG went 4-4 and averaged 66.4 PPG while shooting .585 percent from the field overall. Following the Miami native’s switch to Shot-Creating Slasher, HCG went 4-2 and averaged 78.2 PPG while shooting .677 percent from the field.

That six-game stretch also included Hotshot’s three 50-point games and a 28-point triple-double.

2. What does HCG need to prepare for heading into this game?

First, HCG must find a way to slow down the Lets Get It Ramo & IInsaniTTy one-two punch. Over the final five games of the regular season, PGT focused their offensive attack through those two players. Naturally, the duo combined for 63.6 percent of Detroit’s offensive output over that span of games. Like Hotshot, IInsaniTTy also plays as a Shot-Creating Slasher, so they are likely to face off against one another Friday.

Lets Get It Ramo played as a Slashing Rebounder in four of his last five games, only opting for the Rebounding Post Scorer archetype in PGT’s season finale against Warriors Gaming Squad. HCG has plenty of options here to defend him, as 24k Dropoff, Jalen03303 and Hyper Is Pro all have played center this season.

Famous Enough must also consider that Lets Get It Ramo was an MVP runner-up because he was one of the NBA2KLeague’s top rebounders all season long and a top-10 scorer as well, so whomever is assigned to keep an eye on him in the post will have his hands full all game long. Over the same stretch of matches referenced above, Lets Get It Ramo pulled down no fewer than 12 rebounds a game. That could mean more second-chance opportunities for PGT. Conversely, that could also mean fewer second-chance buckets for HCG.

Lastly, Pistons GT Head Coach Duane Burton earned NBA2KLeague Coach of the Year honors for a reason. PGT’s coach has earned recognition for preparing his team week in and week out, and the results show that. Detroit won nine games this year, though many were close. The average margin of victory for PGT was only 6.1 points, and six of those nine were won by less than 10 points. On the flip side of that coin, when Detroit lost, it lost big. Its average margin of defeat was a staggering 18.6 points, dropping three of its five losses by 24 points or more.

The winner of this matchup will face off against the winner of 76ers GC vs. Wizards District Gaming in a best-of-three series on Saturday (Time TBA).