Hawks Talon Gaming Club opens up the 2020 season on a high note

In a season of adaptation and adjustments, we can safely say that Hawks Talon Gaming Club’s decision to trade for BP paid off. The reigning NBA 2K League MVP runner-up averaged 30.1 points and 10 assists in the two best-of-three-games series’, both of which were two-game sweeps. While the team dropped their first on Tuesday against Mavs Gaming, they stormed back to defeat Wolves Gaming Thursday night.

There were plenty of adjustments that had to be made. For one, turnovers were a glaring issue in Tuesday’s opener: Hawks Talon GC had 26 and Mavs Gaming had 13. The turnover margin was evident in the scoreboard, allowing Mavs Gaming to sweep Hawks Talon in the best-of-three behind 72-55 and 73-49 beatdowns.

The matchup was a wake-up call for head coach Wesley Acuff’s squad. They forced tough passes and, as a result, gave up easy points to a good team. He credited Mavs Gaming’s success to their strong team defense in Thursday’s postgame press conference.

“It was a moment where we got away from our original game plan a little bit, and we let them force us into playing their game,” Acuff said. 

Each game plan this season will have the same theme. The team ran its offense through BP, while followTHEGOD guarded the best player on the opposing side. In the Mavs series, these two roles were evident, with followTHEGOD scoring just nine total points. 

However, he came back strong as a two-way player against T-Wolves Gaming, scoring 11 in the opening game. He followed the performance with 21 points in game two behind seven threes. Not too shabby from the team’s best defender.

Acuff does not want followTHEGOD to have to worry about making shots, though. He wants him to focus on being a defensive monster and forcing steals.

“Follow[THEGOD]’s shots will come based on how the defense plays our scorers,” Acuff said. “I don’t want [followTHEGOD] getting too concerned about a few shots that he misses.”

Now, when you have someone of BP’s caliber, defenses are bound to be locked in on one person. Although T-Wolves Gaming tried hounding BP (who still dropped 62 points in the two games), they were ultimately unsuccessful. He had nine assists in game one and 11 in game two. Anyone watching that game knew which team had the best player on the floor.

Hawks Talon GC swept the series behind scores of 82-52 and 78-62. T-Wolves Gaming won the league championship last season, and Hawks Talon retained only one player from last year’s team.

What made the wins even sweeter was that BP’s teammates had some fun of their own as well.

Lee exploded for 15 points and 18 rebounds in the first game and stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks in game two. 

“As a unit, we know the big man right now is dominating, and the teams are having success behind that,” Acuff said. “We wanted to get Lee more involved in the game.”

It is safe to say that Lee made his name known Thursday night in the sweep along with the rest of the team.

Another player who made a big statement was BP’s backcourt partner, Kel. The two wanted to team up together for quite some time. Now teammates, they are making the most of that opportunity. Kel scored 23 points in game two to close out the series and will continue to have scoring outbursts like this as more teams focus on BP. If the trend continues, this could be the league’s best backcourt.

Coincidentally, the one player who Hawks Talon kept on the team has had to do the most adjusting. MrStylez played point guard last year but had to switch to power forward after the team traded for BP. His struggles were obvious on Tuesday, as he followed a scoreless first game with just three points in game two. 

But, as Thursday’s matchup brought everyone more touches, MrStylez involved himself more. He scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the first game. With the reduced role, his good habits and dedication to the game have remained the same, as Acuff pointed out Friday morning.

“The thing about Stylez is that he definitely studies the game,” Acuff said. “So, once he knew he was coming in on a different position this year, he’s locked in on that position and tried to find ways to be successful for the team and that position.”

Once this team finds its groove, they could make a run in the playoffs. The mistakes they made in week one were just them not being themselves and not getting comfortable. Acuff knows this, which is why this season will be approached like any other.

“It’s not so much for me and the team about having a brand new squad,” he said. “It’s just really for us about building chemistry together and trying to get comfortable with each other’s playstyle and habits out there.”

Hawks Talon will battle Grizz Gaming on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and then Pacers Gaming Friday night at the same time.