The squad rolls on after taking down the esports brigade from Cleveland in the semifinals.
Well, this is unexpected.
After a horrid start to the inaugural NBA 2K League, the first-ever esports organization sponsored by the NBA, it seemed like Knicks Gaming’s hopes were all but lost. Now, after a torrid playoff run capped with an upset over Cavs Legion Gaming, Knicks Gaming suddenly find themselves staring at a best-of-three grand final against Heat Check Gaming for bragging rights over the whole league. That’s right, they’re in the finals. How did this happen?
Knicks Gaming went just 5-9 in the regular season, entering the playoffs as an overlooked eight seed. Their squad is a jigsaw puzzle of solid non-superstars, à la the 2004 Detroit Pistons that took down a feuding but fearsome Kobe/Shaq-led Lakers team to win the NBA championship.
Like those Pistons, this Knicks Gaming roster has pieces that fit together, but no standout except for their first-round pick Dayvon “G O O F Y 7 5 7” Curry. Goofy finished the regular season in the top five in both total points and rebounds accumulated. Point guard Adam “iamadamthe1st” Kudeimati, whom Knicks Gaming selected with their third-round pick, was a pleasant surprise, finishing near the top of the leaderboards in assists and steals. Despite the strong effort, he did struggle with consistency as he tallied up the fourth-most turnovers of any player in the league.
On paper, this team should have been nothing more than a launching pad for top-seeded Blazer5 Gaming to gain postseason momentum. Knicks Gaming had other plans in mind. In the first round of the playoffs, despite facing the number one seed as an eight seed, they brought the fight to Blazer5 and pulled off the massive upset behind an explosive showing from iamadamthe1st (30 points, 13 assists). Adam was aggressive from the jump, pulling up for step-back threes which found the twine more often than the rim.
With their confidence rolling, the fiery Knicks squad sized up the chip on their shoulder against Cavs Legion later that day, stealing another win from a higher-ranked opponent. This time, it was Goofy’s turn to lead, as he steadied the tide with a monstrous 22-point, 20-rebound performance.
Knicks Gaming now face perhaps their toughest test in the finals against Heat Check. They will not be as underprepared for Knicks Gaming as it seemed their other two playoff victims were. Like Knicks Gaming, Heat Check entered the playoffs as a lower-seeded team (sixth overall), and appear hungry for the first taste of 2K League gold. But if Knicks Gaming brings their A-game, it’s hard to envision them rolling over to anyone, even if Heat Check features the vaunted Juan “Hotshot” Gonzales, perhaps the best scorer and big man in the entire league. Knicks Gaming managed to overcome Cavs Legion and Blazer5, who finished the regular season with a player in the top five of every major statistical category. Who’s to say they can’t conjure up just a little more magic to finish their season with the ultimate bang?
The grand finals between Knicks Gaming and Heat Check Gaming will commence at 4 p.m. EST on Saturday, August 25th.