Playoff Preview: Hornets Venom GT, Nets GC Each Eyeing First 2K League Postseason Win

For the second time in just over two weeks, Hornets Venom GT and Nets GC will be squaring off on the NBA 2K League hardwood, only this time the stakes are higher in the first-ever playoff appearance for both sides. There’s plenty to analyze heading into Thursday night’s game starting at 5 PM EST with each team looking to snag a coveted postseason victory and advance to the quarterfinal round.

Hornets Venom Looking for Repeat Performance

Charlotte took down Brooklyn, 2-1, in their regular season showdown back on Wednesday, Aug. 5, a win that dealt a significant blow at the time to the latter’s playoff hopes. Hornets Venom won Games 1 and 3 by respective scores of 70-56 and 79-70 and narrowly missed rallying all the way back from down 20 in Game 2 before falling 67-64.

Of note, the Hornets Venom defense recorded 42 combined steals and blocks in the three-game series, while allowing just 64.3 points per contest (opponent regular season average: 66.5). Charlotte also took just 32 three-point attempts, connecting on a sensational 59 percent clip (season average: 47.5%).

Both Sides Itching for a W

Charlotte is coming off a disappointing 1-2 road loss to Heat Check Gaming in its regular season finale on Thursday, Aug. 6, although clinched a postseason berth anyways following losses by T-Wolves Gaming and Blazer 5 Gaming on the same night. Brooklyn has dropped four of its last five series (6-9 overall), with its lone win coming by a 2-1 margin over Knicks Gaming on Aug. 4.

Teams preferably want to enter the postseason with a bit of momentum, but ultimately just getting into the field is what’s most important. There’s a something-to-prove feeling with the way each team’s regular seasons ended, surely setting the stage for a competitive showdown.

Limiting Choc on Offense

Hornets Venom did a solid job of containing Nets GC point guard Josh “Choc” Humphries in their first meeting, limiting the talented rookie to 27.0 points on 51 percent shooting and a mere 3-of-10 mark from three-point range. The ninth overall pick in February’s draft currently ranks ninth in the 2K League in scoring (29.5 PPG on 58% shooting) and first in assists (9.5).

Charlotte lock Gio “Trap” Elizondo and center Xavier “Type” Vescovi should see the bulk of the defensive reps on Choc, who is also fourth in the league in turnovers (5.9; most of any playoff-bound player). Fighting over screens, properly executing switches on the perimeter and cutting lanes off to the rim will once again be focal points for the defense.    

Battle in the Paint Between Type and Shuttles

Posting averages of 15 points, 14 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 3.3 blocks in the first three-game series against Brooklyn, Type was a major factor in Hornets Venom picking up the win. His performance included a season-high 26 points in Game 1, a triple-double with a season-high-tying 18 rebounds in Game 2 and a five-block showing in Game 3.

Not to be outdone, Nets GC center Aziz “Salem” Shuttles double-doubled in all three contests with averages of 13.7 points, 14.0 rebounds and 4.3 blocks. Shuttles is pulling down the fifth-most boards per game (13.6) and sits third in blocks (2.9), making this positional matchup easily the most compelling across the two starting fives.

Which Secondary Scorers Will Step Up?

Outside of the point guards and centers, whichever secondary scorers can come through will likely be propelling their teams to the next round. Hornets Venom guards Justin “Snubby” Stemerman (23.3 points) and Alex “Expose” Whelan (17.3 points) combined for over 40 points per content in the first series, although the latter cooled off a bit against Miami.

Forward Zaeya “Zae” Ishak averaged just under 11 points against Brooklyn last time out and Charlotte will need to get him going in order to space out its offense a bit more. And primarily a defense-first option, Trap is averaging 6.0 points on 82 percent shooting from the field (18-of-22) and 77% from three (10-of-13) across his last eight outings.

On the other side, shooting guard Marquis “Randomz” Gill increased his scoring total from six, to 14 to 17 points over the trio of games against Charlotte, going just 2-of-4 cumulative from distance. As a guard, Randomz ranks an impressive 15th in the league in field-goal percentage (11.7 points per game on 69% shooting) and is 39-of-79 on three-point attempts this season (49%).

by Sam Perley; all stats courtesy of