On Tuesday, Hawks Talon GC hosted their second in-person matchup of the NBA 2K League season, and faced the Wizards District Gaming in the Battle of the Blacktop, defeating them in the series three games to one in a best of five.
Coming into the game, Hawks Talon GC were ranked No. 3 in the East, and Wizards District Gaming were ranked No. 1, as they've been one of the best teams in the NBA 2K League the past two seasons. That showed in the first game, as the Wizards District took a 1-0 series lead winning 22-10.
“I think we had a little bit of the jitters in the first game,” Coach Maelo said. “Their friends and family are here, and you usually walk into that first game nervous. Once they got their rhythm and the crowd started supporting them, it was easy after that.”
Talon did indeed make it look easy after the first game, and they came out looking like a different team. They had a demanding lead throughout the game, but the Wizards snuck back and took the lead 21-20. It was Ceez who ended the game on a big-time three and helped tie the series 1-1.
On his head @CaesarMartinez_ pic.twitter.com/hUB1haBSES— Hawks Talon GC (@HawksTalonGC) July 20, 2022
“I was on the wrong build,” Ceez said. “I knew how they were playing me, so I switched my build and told myself I was going to dominate, and you see what I did.”
Game 3 was all Talon GC as well, with Ceez finishing with 15 points, and the team only allowing the Wizards District to score 10 points. Talon took a 2-1 lead, and were now only one game away from victory.
Closed out game 3️⃣ with this bucket pic.twitter.com/VOR3jFRou7— Hawks Talon GC (@HawksTalonGC) July 20, 2022
It seemed as if Talon GC didn't feel any pressure, because they continued to dominate in Game 4. After having somewhat of a quiet series, it was the last and final game that Witness showed why he's considered one of the lockdown defenders on the team, grabbing steals and doing the dirty work for the Hawks.
“In terms of 3v3, that's what I’ve been doing all season,” Witness said. “Getting those stops on the defensive side, whether it's me or Putback on the steals.”
“Witness is like a miniature lockdown, and he's known for having good defense, so we translated him to 3v3, and he's been going crazy for us,” Ceez said.
Talon GC were able to take Game 4 with a 22-10 victory, and win the Battle of the Blacktop matchup against the Wizards. Ceez was the clear MVP of the series, finishing with 43 points, 12 assists, and two steals.
“Having a guy like Ceez, it makes playing defense easier because we know he’s going to get us buckets and he has confidence in us getting stops,” Witness said. “Once we’re flowing together like that, you see we’re a good, well-flowing machine.”
“When [Ceez’s] confidence is at an all-time, he’s unstoppable,” coach Maelo said.
Earlier in the season, Ceez reiterated that he was one of the best when it comes to 3v3 play, and he proved it once again in this series.
“I come from The Stage, this is what I do,” Ceez said. “Nobody can beat me in this game mode.”
With the Wizards District coming in as one of the best teams in the league, this was a good challenge for the Hawks as they might have to see them again in the future.
“This is a matchup we've been waiting for because we thought we were going to meet them in the Switch Open,” Coach Maelo said. “We didn't make it there, but we already had a game plan from back then. They’re the first seed and the champs, so it was extra motivation.”
“The Wizards won the championship last year in 5v5, and they're a great team in 3v3 this year,” Witness said. “They have a lot of proven winners on the team, so beating a team like that is always good for the confidence, and also helps us move forward on clinching a spot in the playoffs.”
Hawks Talon GC will now look ahead to The Ticket Tournament, which will be the next time they will be in action.