Miami Heat: Takeaways from Heat Check Gaming’s first game of 2019

Heat Check Gaming (Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Heat Check Gaming (Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat’s NBA 2K League team, Heat Check Gaming, tipped off its 2019 season against the 76ers GC team. We’ll break down the season opener.

On their way to becoming runners-up for the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League, the Miami Heat Check Gaming squad faced a reeling 76ers GC that was still having difficulties adjusting to a mid-season patch that crippled their MVP candidate Radiant in the Semifinals.

With a heavy dose of ‘5-out’ led by Hotshot. It was an intense battle on and off the sticks that saw Heat Check advance to the finals where they fell 1-2 to Knicks Gaming.

Just like the NBA, the 2K League office knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to scheduling. Wednesday night fans were treated to this exact semifinals rematch on only day two of the season. Not only did they schedule this game early on, but the scheduling gods put these two teams in the same tournament pool group where they would surely need a win against their rival.

The game was tightly contested throughout. Like any other high-powered matchup, it had its fair share of controversy with a ghost shooting foul committed by Lotty and a game mechanic that sealed the Heat’s fate with less than five seconds remaining in regulation.

Lotty’s phantom foul:

With 4:44 remaining in regulation Lotty is whistled for what appears to be a reach-in foul from behind on Radiant’s left side. Just before that, Radiant crossed over to his left. At that moment, Radiant’s avatar switched back to his shooting hand and launched up a prayer. This play was whistled in the act of shooting and Radiant was awarded three free throws. Ball don’t lie, so he missed all but one of them. Unfortunately his fourth foul remained.

Unfortunate game mechanic:

With seven seconds to go in regulation and the game tied, 76ers GC looks to draw up a play and get the go-ahead basket. 24K Dropoff is on a sharpshooting Rim Protector with his grand badge activated and is assigned to Steez who’s setting a screen for ZDS. As Dropoff is in drop coverage, he bumps into Lotty and the 2K mechanics take over. after building into Lotty, he’s then sucked into an animation that hedges him all the way to the 3-point line and Steez promptly cuts behind him to receive the dime from ZDS and finishes at the rim with a two-hand flush.

Just when 76ers GC thought they were about to pull away late in the fourth quarter, Heat Check went on a 9-0 scoring run to tie the game. The Heat ended up holding the L 63-61 but not without sneakily winning every quarter against the Sixers except the first on their way to racking up the most points (10) by a team not earning an automatic bid to the single elimination tournament this weekend.

Each team gains four points for a win and one point for each quarter they win excluding overtime periods. The league’s 21 teams were split into seven groups of three where they will play two games each. Each group winner automatically earns a bid to the single elimination bracket where they will compete for $120,000. The team that has the most tournament points without winning their group will head into the bracket as the wild card, taking the eighth and final seed.

Heat Check Gaming is currently leading the wild-card race with 10 points, so they have every right to sit comfortably and continue to gameplan for the bracket. The only way the get knocked out of the wild-card race is if another team somehow loses their group with a 1-1 record while winning three quarters but tying a quarter and losing in overtime gaining an additional half point. That type of scenario would give a team 10.5 points and the wild card spot. Hard to see it happening but as Justin Bieber says, “Never say never.”

Offensive Scheme
Let’s get into what I saw from Miami Heat Check in the first game of the season.

The Heat’s offense has a heavy dose of wing pick and roll with JMoneyRep817 and HotShot to take advantage of the brick wall badge. Sometimes they switched it up and executed a sort of dribble, but that was usually when JMoney had ended his dribble but the offense needed to continue. The team uses almost the full allotment of eight seconds to cross half court each possession, and this pseudo pick-and-roll is somewhat for show as I saw a lot of passes that did get dumped down to HotShot on the roll result in another pass.

As I’ve seen consistently throughout the other games this season, everyone in the room knows having a pure glass is a liability on the offensive end. After spending six or seven seconds getting the ball and another six or seven seconds setting up the pick-and-roll hoping for the defense to make a mistake, that only leaves about 10 seconds to get something going inside the 3-point line.

Beyonce said, “To the left, to the left” but in Heat Check’s case, everything was to the right. I tracked every made shot from Wednesday’s game against the Sixers, and all but six came from the right side of the court. With the team making six 3-pointers and three mid-range jumpers, the rest of their 27 makes came from within the paint.

Fourteen of their paint baskets were made within the restricted circle and boy was that baseline open. Surprisingly, the Heat attempted zero free throws in that game. Their deliberate offense coupled with the Sixers patient defense produced this result which was corrected in their next match against Kings Guard Gaming.

I counted about 2-3 times where they executed a three-person weave at the top of the key initiated from the left side of the court. I don’t recall anything coming from this set, but it might be something they’re exploring as a unit. Maybe we’ll see more in the future.

Thank God sports gambling is now legal because holy smokes does this Heat team gamble on the defensive end. They seem to want to play man to man defense with Lotty on a pure lockdown defender archetype covering the primary ball handler while trying to reduce switching as much as possible. Even when opposing bigs set screens, Miami Heat Check bigs do their best to execute a light hedge and drop while quickly getting back to their original man.

If you take a peek around to the weak side of the court, you can often see 24K Dropoff gambling in the passing lanes while giving his matchup all sorts of space knowing that with a Sharpshooting Rim Protector, he can recover adequately to contest the shot if his gamble doesn’t pay off. He ended the game with five steals.

This high-roller mentality can come back to haunt them as they had two players with four fouls. Separate from the fouls, a lot of times their gambling left them out of position when the ball did reach their matchup, and they needed to scramble to recover. There is a dark side to their defense though. Head coach YouFamousEnough will need to make sure the team is locked in and focused each defensive possession, even if that means changing up the scheme or aggressiveness mid game.

There were plenty of times throughout the game where players were just sitting there while their matchup caught the ball. They weren’t pressing up on defense. The players weren’t taking chances in the passing lanes. They were just there — sort of in a trance. Maybe ball watching. These lapses put frequent gambling teams like Miami Heat Check under the gun because they do give open looks for their opponents.

dark. Next. Ranking the Heat's remaining games by difficulty

For now, all Miami Heat Check Gaming can do is confidently watch the rest of pool play while continue to watch their own footage as well as their possible opponents. At the end of action Friday night they’ll know if they’re going to the bracket or if they’re going home. An excellent position to be in for getting the best possible outcome in a heavyweight matchup in game one of the season and handling business in the second game.