On paper, Week 1 of The TIPOFF could have gone better for HEAT Check Gaming.
A 1-2 record in the team’s first three games with two more to go before closing group play means they will need to either win out or hope for some losses across the group to advance to bracket play the following week. The win Friday night earned HEAT Check 1 point in the group, which has them tied in the W/L column with CLTX Crossover to decide which four teams advance to bracket play (CCG holds the point differential tie-breaker +1 to -7).
However, if you were watching each of our matches closely as the week progressed, you would have noticed some interesting developments that suggest this team has started figuring it out heading into Week 2.
4/5 vs. 76ersGC: Everything Was Good… Until It Wasn’t
The Good: HEAT Check outscored 76ers GC in the 1st quarter 22-11 thanks to even scoring from Sten ‘SAV’ Aleksander Valge-Saar (8 pts), Josue ‘FutureClutch’ Acosta (6 pts), and Kennedy ‘sawc’ Tauala Jr. (6 pts). Sawc also added 6 rebs, which helped create more shot opportunities in the period for HCG (8-15) than SGC (5-9)… Despite a surge by SGC in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, HCG were still in position to win this match heading into the 4th quarter, holding a 51-48 lead with 6 minutes remaining in the game.
— HEAT Check Gaming (@HeatCheckGaming) April 6, 2022
The Bad: SGC found their rhythm and unleashed a pretty devastating 26-5 run in the 4th quarter thanks to Dre (30 pts, 12 asts) and Yusuf Scarbz (20 pts, 17 rebs)… The pair combined for 21 of SGC’s 26 points in the final window.
Observations: The final result wasn’t pretty, but ultimately HCG was still in this game heading into the 4th quarter. Head Coach/GM Derric ‘Famous Enough’ Franklin will likely make sure that the team remembers this game for the rest of the season as an example of how not to let one slip away late.
4/6 at Gen.G Tigers: Heartbreaker In The 4th
The Good: FutureClutch scored 14 efficient pts and tallied 6 stls (1 less than the entire GNG squad), the latter of which made 1st-overall pick OTTR’s (Off The Top Rope, aka Gallo) life tough with the ball (8 TO’s)…
— HEAT Check Gaming (@HeatCheckGaming) April 7, 2022
Though the scoring wasn’t quite there yet for SAV or Alexander ‘Bsmoove’ Reese, the backcourt duo combined for 17 asts, which was 2 more than all of GNG combined (15)… Sawc was the tip of the spear in the 4th quarter, scoring 12 of HCG’s 14 pts in the final window.
The Bad: BxmpyDon (17 pts, 3-4 3PFG) hit some big shots in the 4th quarter to keep GNG’s engine going until OTTR (23 pts, 8 asts) drained a critical 3 from the left hash with under a minute remaining in the game… The final nail in the coffin was a timely dime to FEAST soon after, which ultimately pushed the Tigers ahead for their second win of the season.
Observations: Unlike the previous game against SGC, this one was much closer all the way through and more of a back-and-fourth battle between the two teams. Just like the previous match however, HCG again held the lead heading into the 4th quarter. HCG was even in position to tie it up on the final possession, but couldn’t get a good shot off before time expired.
4/8 vs. CLTX Crossover: It All Clicked 💡
The Good: HCG came out swinging early and never looked back – by the end of the 1st quarter, everyone had scored a bucket thanks to SAV’s 7 asts… Speaking of SAV, he led the scoring charge early with 9 pts, followed by his SG Bsmoove who got a hot start with 7 pts of his own on the way to his first 20-point game of the season… Deondrick ‘DTrick’ Leon Jr. impacted the game in his own way, adding 6 rebs to his 6 pts (2-4 3PFG) which he made at critical moments to help stave off two separate CCG runs…
— HEAT Check Gaming (@HeatCheckGaming) April 9, 2022
Sawc did a little bit of everything this game, adding 3 asts and 2 stls to his 10 pts and 15 rebs… FutureClutch was less involved in scoring compared to his games vs. GNG and SGC, but he was just as impactful on defense, adding 3 stls on the night, as well as forcing FT into 5 turnovers and 5-12 shooting.
The Bad: HCG only managed to score 10 pts in the 3rd quarter against CCG, nearly matching their output vs. GNG (11 pts) and SGC (10 pts) before hitting their stride again and adding 16 in the 4th… If the team manages to hold their opponents to fewer points than 10 pts in a quarter, that’s one thing – but slow starts coming out of halftime could decide games when other opponents come out firing.
Observations: HCG switched archetypes for Friday, notably moving SAV off a slasher build and onto a playmaker, while DTrick went from a 6’8 to a 6’9 PF. The results: SAV hit season-highs in pts (23), asts (10), and 3PFG’s (7), while DTrick pulled down a season-high 6 rebs and knocked down 2 3’s.
Looking Ahead: Two games remain in Group Play for HCG; Wednesday 4/13 at 9 PM ET at Wizards DG (2-1) and Thursday 4/14 at 10 PM vs. Hawks Talon GC (0-3). Ideally, HCG can win out and lock in their bracket play spot for live-action gameplay and a shot at the TIPOFF’s $250,000 prize pool in a couple weeks.
However, a split next week could still manage to help HCG advance (as long as a few other things happen too).
Tune in April 13 and April 14 for our matches during The TIPOFF Tournament Presented by AT&T at twitch.tv/NBA2KLeauge.
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