The inaugural season of T-Wolves Gaming has been a wild ride to say the least. The only word I can think of that sort of describes it is tumultuous, but I’m not sure that even gives it justice.
After starting the season with a disappointing 3-6 record, the team decided to make a coaching change. It wasn’t a move that very many people surrounding the NBA 2K League anticipated, and it was one that even members of the team seemed confused and upset by.
Shortly thereafter, the player that many pegged as the cornerstone of the franchise, Brandon “Hood” Caicedo, began holding out from competitions and ultimately requested a trade from the team. It appeared to be a serious blow to the young organization, and people around the league began to question how this team would be able to salvage any sort of positivity from their season.
However, the five remaining members of the team, and the newly acquired Jordan “JMoneyRep817” Martinez who was brought in from the subsequent trade of Hood, never lost hope.
Using a couple very well-timed bye weeks to build up the team chemistry that seemed to have been unraveled by the Hood trade and coaching change, a sort of “what do we have to lose?” attitude began to infect every member of the team, and they started to capitalize when teams were doubting them in competitions.
It’s not difficult to pinpoint exactly when things turned around for this team, because as soon as it did, they have yet to stop winning. Over the final five weeks of the NBA 2K League regular season, T-Wolves Gaming has gone undefeated.
They did the only thing they could do to continue controlling their own playoff destiny, and it worked.
In a highly anticipated matchup in Week 12, the final week of the regular season, T-Wolves Gaming was going to face their toughest test yet in a Blazer 5 Gaming team that has lost only one regular-season game all year. In fact, over the first two seasons of the NBA 2K League, Blazer 5 has only lost three regular-season games in total.
The outlook for the game wasn’t nearly as bleak as it could have been for the T-Wolves, though, because they had already beaten Blazer 5 earlier this year.
In a matchup in early May, during the time Hood was holding out from the team, the T-Wolves sent Blazer 5 packing in THE TURN, after a fiery matchup in the second round of the tournament.
Leading up to the game on Wednesday night, there was no shortage of chirping back and forth between the two teams on Twitter, and it became clear that although Blazer 5 had essentially nothing to play for, as they had already locked up the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, they had their eyes set on avenging their loss in THE TURN, a loss that cost members of the team potentially thousands of dollars in prize money.
It was clear from the opening tip just how electric this game was going to be. Trading buckets back and forth for the first few minutes, a few untimely turnovers allowed Blazer 5 to jump out to a 10-point lead late in the quarter. T-Wolves Gaming stayed uncharacteristically quiet and reserved, however, and simply kept grinding.
After beginning the second quarter on a sizzling 7-0 run, life began to be pumped into the veins of the T-Wolves. Michael “BearDaBeast” Key was his usual dominant self, and JMoneyRep817 once again shouldered the bulk of the offensive load in the first half.
However, Blazer 5 wasn’t going down without a fight. Nidal “Mama Im Dat Man” Nasser was a continuous thorn in the side of the T-Wolves, as he showed exactly why he is one of the front-runners for this years MVP award, seeming to go the entire first half without missing a 3-point attempt.
Additionally, last year’s NBA 2K League MVP, Dayne “OneWildWalnut” Downey, proved to be a matchup nightmare, cleaning the glass and seeming to always have an easy bucket down low to help Blazer 5 Gaming take a 31-26 lead into the second half.
Slowly but surely chipping away at Blazer 5’s lead through the third quarter, BearDaBeast, JMoneyRep817 and Christopher “TURNUPDEFENSE” Anderson continued to provide almost all of the offense for the T-Wolves and they trailed by just three points heading into what could have been the final quarter of their season.
To say this was where things got interesting would be a bit of an understatement. Simply put, the fourth quarter of this game was unlike anything I had seen yet this season in the 2K League.
After tying it up early in the quarter, and eventually making their way out in front, the over-the-top T-Wolves, particularly the antics of BearBaBeast, began to take center stage. The entire quarter was a blur of huge, seemingly game-clinching buckets, and subsequent barking back and forth between the teams.
However, neither team seemed to be able to get over the threshold of a five-point lead. Both teams always had answers on the following possessions after giving up buckets, and while the offensive side of the ball was the focus for both teams, the defense shined bright in the final quarter.
After 23 minutes and 40 seconds of nonstop action, we had a game that was in a deadlock at 53 points. Twenty seconds and one final possession was all that stood between T-Wolves Gaming and the clinching of a playoff spot.
Instead of even attempting to put that final twenty seconds into words, I will simply invite you to watch it unfold below, because it’s something you just have to see to believe:
And that’s it. T-Wolves Gaming will be competing in the 2019 NBA 2K League Playoffs after an absolutely absurd season-saving shot by TURNUPDEFENSE, who was, of course, named the ‘Player of the Game’ immediately afterward.
Of course, none of that would have been possible without the setup pass by BearDaBeast, who has to be the unanimous decision for “Team MVP” after their season concluded, whenever that may be.
The only thing I can say about their chances in the playoffs is this: T-Wolves Gaming is a team that nobody in the 2K League wants to play right now. Not only have they won seven straight games, they’ve taken out the giants known as Blazer 5 Gaming not once but twice.
This team has as good a chance as any to conquer the road the the NBA 2K League Finals in a just a few weeks.