There are four weeks left in the inaugural NBA 2K League season. There are also seven playoff berths to fill now that Knicks Gaming — ranked 16th out of 17 teams — captured an automatic playoff spot by winning the “Ticket” tournament. A mere two games separate the 10th-ranked Celtics Crossover Gaming (5-5) and the second-ranked 76ers GC (7-3), and the latter has looked unsteady ever since the midseason patch came into effect. Five teams are deadlocked with 5-4 records, each with five games remaining in the regular season. So, what can we expect to happen in what’s poised to be a crazy playoff push?
Teams with small advantages now will greatly benefit from those in the future
Simply put, the season is so short that having even the smallest leg up on another team is immensely useful. 6-3 Pistons GT, for example, are in a much better place than 6-4 Cavs Legion GC because they have control over 20 percent more than the Cavs control. If Pistons GT loses, that’s fine, because they’re essentially playing with house money compared to the Cavs. If they win, however, they gain a full game of separation and actually tie with second-place 76ers GC.
Lower down in the standings, 3-5 Pacers Gaming might well be in a better position than either of the 4-6 teams, Raptors Uprising GC and Grizz Gaming. The Pacers have the potential to emerge from an equivalent 10-game slate with one fewer loss. This, of course, has the potential to backfire: the Pacers could lose both games, or even lose one and be no better off. Nonetheless, it’s better to retain more control over your own destiny than to have it already set in stone.
Not winning at least seven games? Uh Oh
Again, the scarcity of games makes each loss that much more deadly. Warriors Gaming Squad at 2-7 is essentially eliminated since there’s only a minute chance they squeak into the playoffs with 7 wins. Similarly, the 3-6 Bucks and Kings Guard, despite coming off heartening, emotional runs in the “Ticket,” realistically need to go 5-0 in their final five games to eke out a playoff berth. 4-1 in the last four weeks would put them at .500, but that mark is a perilous one as the league’s lone .500 team currently resides in 10th. That team, Celtics Crossover Gaming, is more dangerous than its record suggests, finishing as runner-up in two consecutive tournaments. Seven games probably isn’t enough, and that’s in large part due to the fact that there are just too many teams who have already won five games with at least four more to go. Speaking of which…
The 5-4 Gauntlet
This race is going to make or break the season. MavsGG, Wizards District Gaming, Jazz Gaming, Heat Check Gaming and Magic Gaming all find themselves fighting for three playoff spots. Celtics Crossover is hot on their heels. Now is not the time to stumble. It’s probably too early to say that point differential will make a difference as it stands, but MavsGG (+55) are definitely better off than Magic Gaming (-31).
Doubleheaders may come into play, and here again the Magic are poorly positioned. Their two-game day comes in the last week of the season, when they’ll have to play Cavs Legion GC and Celtics Crossover Gaming in two matchups with huge playoff implications. The Jazz have an even more difficult two-game slate, facing Pistons GT and then Blazer5 Gaming in Week 10. Luckily for them, their doubleheader is a Friday/Saturday affair rather than two strenuous games on one day. Week 10 also sees MavsGG take on Magic Gaming and Wizards District Gaming.
Good teams and talented players are going to miss the NBA 2K League playoffs. But the next four weeks are going to see some of the most intense competition yet, and that’s just the playoff push.