The Wizards saved their season and clinched an 8-6 record and a playoff berth with a comeback win over Knicks Gaming. While Boo Painter didn’t capture the first-ever NBA 2K League MVP award, he led the Wizards to the playoffs while using the powerful shot-creating slasher build. Here’s the strat-cap for Friday’s first game.
Wizards District Gaming (8-6) 80, Knicks Gaming (5-9) 68
This play, ironically enough, was the beginning of the turnaround for Wizards DG. Adam, going left around a Goofy pick, drew a pinch from Boo and found the open NateKahl for a three to put the Knicks up by 10.
That’s exactly the danger of the Knicks’ pick-and-roll. Adam and Goofy are a formidable combo, especially against a slashing stretch five down low. The Wizards had defended it well against Blazer5, with Boo stepping up to guard the point guard, and after this trey the Wizards—perhaps out of desperation—found that form again.
That’s what the Wizards’ very next defensive sequence looked like. They took away Adam’s three, and Jin rotated over to Goofy, forcing a bad pass even as JT was moving down to the corner. That’s the right way to play, and they got a turnover out of it.
That’s another good PnR stop followed by a big transition bucket by Boo, cutting the lead at halftime to four, rather than the uncomfortable 10 of just minutes earlier.
Boo just took over. The Wizards produced a remarkable 23-7 third quarter that saved their season. But they needed Gilly in this one. The center played the NBA 2K League game of his life, coming to life in the second half to stymie Goofy down low, score a few needed points, and make sure everything went capitally for the Wiz.
Right at the beginning is a JT steal—he and Reese stopped a lot of possessions, too many possessions for the Knicks, by stepping into the passing lane. But the main focus of that clip is Gilly, who closes out expertly on an Adam pull-up three before rimrunning to get the Wiz a never-to-be-relinquished lead. He stepped up on the perimeter, and he stepped up his entire game to help get the Wizards into the playoffs.
With drive-and-kicks like the above, the Wizards withstood late runs from Adam and Idris to hang on to the lead; they clinched a playoff berth the next day.
Nonetheless, the Wizards season will be defined by stuff like this:
Boo, in five out, driving and dunking. This is an offensive team that can score on you in a hurry. They’ll face a 76ers GC team in round one that, as their game against Grizz Gaming showed, knows hot to be committed to staying home on shooters.
Knicks coach LetsBallUp was right to think he had the Wiz on the ropes with a 10-point lead. But you need to keep scoring to keep a lead, and the Wizards mustered a great defensive performance when they needed it most.
They’ll need more of it in the playoffs.