Do you want to know how this NBA season is going to wind up without having to wait until next June? Well the good people at NBA 2K13 ran a simulation and here is what they came up with:
NBA 2K13 Predicts 17th Title for Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers defeat Heat in seven, Durant wins first MVP
Using NBA 2K13 as our crystal ball, we took it upon ourselves to simulate the entire 2012-2013 season while paying attention to several key storylines. Without further ado, here’s what to expect this season:
Can the King defend his crown?
LeBron James and the Miami Heat enter the 2012 season with the monkey off their back, having won the NBA Championship in June. In our NBA 2K13 sim, the Heat didn’t suffer any sort of letdown after their title. Behind the Big Three and future Hall of Famer Ray Allen, the Heat finished with a 62-20 record, good for homecourt advantage through the Eastern Conference Playoffs. LeBron was his typical brilliant self, scoring 25 points a game with a career-high 54% field goal percentage.
The Lakers Reload
You didn’t expect the Lakers to stand pat after last year’s playoff exit, did you? After their loss to the Thunder, the Lakers acquired two of the game’s best players in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. All Howard did in our NBA 2K13 sim was average 25 points and 12 rebounds while taking home Defensive Player of the Year honors. The Lakers matched Miami’s record of 62-20, but claimed much-needed home court advantage through the playoffs by virtue of their two close wins over the Heat. More on that later.
Will The Thunder Take the Next Step?
The Oklahoma City Thunder has used steady improvement to become one of the league’s elite franchises. After losing in the Western Conference Finals two years ago, the Thunder made the NBA Finals last season before falling to the Heat. According to our simulation, 2012-13 will be a banner season for NBA 2K13 cover athlete Kevin Durant, who not only won his fourth consecutive scoring title (only achieved by Wilt and MJ) but also his first MVP award. Durant averaged 28.5 points a game, edging out the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony.
Can Blake Take L.A.?
With All-Star point guard Chris Paul joining NBA 2K13 cover athlete Blake Griffin a season ago, the Clippers franchise turned from doormat into legitimate contender. Our crystal ball shows continued improvement from the Clippers and Griffin, who won more than 50 games (54) for the first time in franchise history. The Clippers finished with the fourth seed out west, good enough to set up a thrilling second round matchup against their fellow Staples Center tenants, the Lakers.
The Return of Derrick Rose
Chicago’s heart collectively sank when NBA 2K13 cover athlete Derrick Rose was injured in last year’s postseason. But fear not, Bulls fans. Our simulation shows D-Rose making a full recovery. After the Bulls struggled out of the gate, Rose returned to action. He averaged nearly 24 points a game while leading Chicago to 45 wins. The Bulls defeated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs before falling to their nemesis, the Heat, in five games.
Perhaps the biggest single storyline of the 2011-12 NBA season was the emergence of Jeremy Lin, who went from the NBA’s D-League to being the toast of New York City. According to NBA 2K13, Lin’s first season with the Rockets will be a successful one, as he averaged 20 points and 7 assists per game. However, the Rockets fell short of the postseason in the uber-competitive Western Conference.
The Battle for New York
There’s a new team in the Big Apple, with NBA 2K13 Executive Producer JAY Z bringing the Nets to Brooklyn. In a surprising twist, our simulation ended up with an All New York first round matchup between the Knicks and Nets. The Knicks took the series in five games, and then upset the Indiana Pacers in the second round to reach their first Eastern Conference Finals since 2000.
The Next Generation
NBA 2K13 brings us one of the deepest drafts in years, led by former University of Kentucky standouts Anthony Davis (Hornets) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Bobcats). Both players had excellent rookie campaigns, with Davis taking home Rookie of the Year honors (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Kidd-Gilchrist averaging 14. Other rookie standouts include the Wizards’ Bradley Beal, who led all rookies by averaging 17 points while helping lead the Wizards to the brink of the postseason. Portland’s Damon Lillard was second in scoring with 16 a game.
1. Los Angeles Lakers 62-20
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 61-21
3. San Antonio Spurs 57-25
4. Los Angeles Clippers 53-29
5. Denver Nuggets 50-32
6. Memphis Grizzlies 47-35
7. Golden State Warriors 44-38
8. Minnesota Timberwolves 43-39
1. Miami Heat 62-20
2. Indiana Pacers 52-30
3. New York Knicks 48-34
4. Boston Celtics 46-36
5. Chicago Bulls 45-37
6. Brooklyn Nets 41-41
7. Milwaukee Bucks 39-43
8. Philadelphia 76ers 38-44
The top-seeded teams in the Western Conference all advanced easily with the exception of the Clippers, who had to survive a seven-game series against the Nuggets. The Battle for Los Angeles lived up to the hype, with the Lakers needing seven to outlast the Clippers. In a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Thunder defeated the Spurs in the same six games it took them last year.
Out east, much of the same. The 1-4 seeds advanced out of the first round, renewing a couple of old rivalries in the past: Heat-Bulls and Pacers-Knicks. The Heat’s balance was too much for the Rose-reliant Bulls, defeating them in five games. And in the only upset of the conference semifinals, the Knicks overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Pacers in seven games. Carmelo Anthony scored 39 for New York in the decisive game seven.
This set up starpower galore in the Conference Finals: Lakers-Thunder and Heat-Knicks.
For the Lakers, it was the chance to avenge last year’s defeat to the younger, more athletic Thunder. For the Thunder, they were hoping to get back to the NBA Finals. The series did not disappoint, as four of the series’ seven games came down to the final possession. In the end, it was too much Los Angeles. Dwight Howard’s 31 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks combined with Kobe’s 26 was enough for the Lakers to get back to the NBA Finals.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat advanced to their third consecutive NBA Finals with a five-game win over the Knicks. Coming back to the Garden down 2-0, the Knicks were able to take game three behind Carmelo Anthony’s 36. But the Heat regained control and took the series in five, led by LeBron’s 40 in the clincher.
This set up the NBA Finals matchup that many fans around the world wanted: Lakers vs. Heat, with Kobe and LeBron squaring off for the first time in an NBA Finals. Based on their two head-to-head wins in the regular season, Los Angeles had home court advantage in the series despite identical 62-20 records. But that advantage was short-lived, as the Heat stole game one at Staples Center, and led the series 3-2 after taking two of three in Miami. But much like the 2010 Finals, the Lakers were able to make good on their home court advantage and took the series in seven. Kobe Bryant’s game-high 28 points were
enough to win him a sixth title and bring the Lakers their 17th NBA championship.