“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” is a good way to look at Grizz Gaming’s season thus far. They’re out of the playoff race (in the regular season), but that is what we would call this scenario if this season was a sprint for Memphis. Grizz Gaming can still win the marathon with the Ticket Tournament sitting in front of Grizz Gaming.
Friday night, following a devastating loss to Bucks Gaming, it felt like Grizz Gaming was done for the year. The matchup with Warriors Gaming was just a filler before the season ended. The two losses just hit different. A slow start by the Grizz in game one, the recovery to get potentially put the game into OT, but two great shots were missed, and the life of this 2020 2K League season had ended for Grizz Gaming... But it’s not over, yet.
The craziest thing I’ve seen in the @NBA2KLeague tonight. @GrizzGaming with an opportunity to tie finds to excellent shots. I understand the first one not falling, but that corner three from Vandi is heartbreaking. Never seen a PG miss back-to-back like that. pic.twitter.com/brSxlr0utF— Brendan Smart (@bsmart21) July 31, 2020
Expectations too high?
As I sat at my desk in my office Friday night, following two great back-to-back post-game interviews with Grizz Gaming General Manager and Head Coach Lang Whitaker, I started questioning my expectations for this team, and the state of this Grizz team. Trying to figure out where it all went wrong following going 7-3 in their last 10 games to catapult them into the playoff hunt in week 11.
The vibe around Grizz Gaming in that 7-3 stretch felt different. The team was clicking offensively and defensively. Now, the team is being teased by their opponents on offense, and the defensive communication is now inconsistent.
Then, offensively, Grizz Gaming wouldn’t be able to put consistent possessions together to take the lead, or win games in clutch situations. Week 11 was tough for Grizz Gaming, but their season isn’t over as they await the Ticket Tournament on August 13th.
Doing a deeper dive into Grizz Gaming’s struggles. At times it looks like this team is on two different pages.— Brendan Smart (@bsmart21) August 3, 2020
You’ll see in the clip below, Vandi on a cold ring, makes life tough for the Grizz. Driving with a purpose isn’t there in this sequence. Team is playing too uptight. pic.twitter.com/hatIehQa2K
Cold Rings Are An Issue:
Grizz Gaming Point Guard “Vandi” had quite the showing in game one of the Bucks series in week 11, despite having a cold ring in the first quarter. Dropping 39 points in game one wasn’t an issue. The issue with the Grizz downfall is in part due to Vandi’s decision making on the offensive end.
If you study the game of 2K, you can tell when guys start to press, or rush the ball up the floor. Then, you can tell when a guy has his mind made up coming off a screen as they approach the driving lane. For Vandi, the decision making, and play making is something Vandi needs to work on over this break.
Over the last few weeks, you have heard the communication between this team saying “switch it up.” Meaning, pull up free throw line, trust your shot, and keep attacking. Keep the defense on their toes, and open up your teammates. The reason Vandi gets on the cold rings are the lack of play making all of the sudden.
Vandi mentioned getting in his own head at times during rookie season last season, and it feels like that is the case right now for the Grizz Gaming Point Guard. His talent isn’t a question, his IQ isn’t a question either, but the decision making in crucial moments in a game is a huge reason the Grizz are were they are right now - good and bad.
“NxtUp” The Ticket:
The season isn’t over for Grizz Gaming, despite some belief around the NBA 2K League, the Grizz, if anything should be a heavy favorite heading into the tournament. Beating teams like T-Wolves Gaming, Blazer5 Gaming, and Nets Gaming Club - the Grizz are still alive.
.@GrizzGaming fought through another rough start, and almost pulled out a game 2 victory. Liked their bounce back, but two weeks to get geared up for the Ticket Tournament. Far from over for this team. https://t.co/Dj2Zy0W1ua— Brendan Smart (@bsmart21) August 1, 2020
The Ticket Tournament that kicks off next week, August 13th, will feature the Grizz, but we wait for their seeding in the tournament. Finishing 7-9, the Grizz should have a favorable seeding in the tournament, but have to work on their communication, along with their gameplan in their 13 days off.
Last year, the Ticket tournament came with four weeks remaining in the regular season, Grizz Gaming Head Coach Lang Whitaker pointed out in one of our interviews. So, “it’s not over,” Lang responded when asked what his message to the team was following two tough losses.
Grizz Gaming will be back in action next week, as they’ll take their tun in the Ticket Tournament.