Amazing is about to happen
The 2013 NBA Playoffs start this Saturday April 20, so if you're a basketball fan it's an exciting time. We can't wait to see how the Playoffs unfold over the next few weeks, and drama is pretty much guaranteed. However, we also thought this was a great time to see how accurate the leading NBA game is when it comes to simulating the Playoffs, so we fired up NBA 2K13 (opens in new tab) and let the game play out the post-season. The results, as you'll see, are a mixture of safe bets and wild surprises.
A quick note on how we simulated the Playoffs. After making sure all rosters were up to date, we created a new save file in the Playoffs mode, and adjusted all the teams to make sure it reflected the real-life Playoffs. Then - because we had to choose a team - we picked the Boston Celtics (this writer's team of choice). We then simulated all games from that point, recording results, injuries and stats. This is what happened
As the Playoffs happen, we'll add all the real results to this article so you can check how NBA 2K13 is doing.
The starting schedule
Ok, so this is how it all starts. At this stage we were confident that the Heat would smash the Bucks, and that higher placed teams in the West - like Oklahoma City and San Antonio - would progress fairly easily past their respective opposition. Other match-ups were closer to call. Although form favors the Knicks, they've had a tendency to struggle in the post-season of late, whereas Boston always up their game. Meanwhile, in the West, Denver have plenty of potential but Golden State have the talent to cause a real upset.
And how do you call those 4-5 seed match-ups? With Rudy Gay gone, the Grizzlies haven't been able to recapture early season form, so you have to fancy the Clippers. In the East, you'd say that the Bulls were clear favorite if they had Derrick Rose. However, with him ruled out for this first round, it's too close to pick an outright favorite. So, with this in mind, we simulated the first stage.
Round 1 - Eastern Conference
The Miami / Milwaukee series is much closer than expected. The Heat take a 2-0 lead, but then the Bucks pull a couple back at home. It then goes to 3-3, before the Heat win the decider in Miami. Close. The Pacers sweep the Hawks, which is something that could well happen, while the Bulls narrowly steal the series from the Nets, after trailing by 3-2 at one point. Interestingly, in our simulation, Derrick Rose makes a return for Game 7. The biggest upset in this round happens in the New York / Boston match-up. The Knicks take a 2-0 lead, before the Celtics then go 3-2 up. The decider goes to Madison Square Garden, and before the game Paul Pierce suffers shin splints, but - incredibly - the Celtics steal the series away from home.
So how were the predictions? While we'll have to wait to see how they compare to the real Playoffs, we think NBA 2K13 has done a decent job here. Form suggests an easier series for the Heat, and we'd expect New York to beat the Celtics, but all the other results are very plausible. Good stuff, so far.
Round 1 - Western Conference
Hmm, now the West has thrown up a few surprising results. The most notable is the Spurs / Lakers series, which goes against expectations - especially when LA take a 3-0 head-start. San Antonio pull a couple of games back, but LA finishes the job in the 6th game. We know the Lakers are resurgent at the moment, but with San Antonio's wealth of experience this is a shocker. OKC and the Clippers breeze through as expected, setting up a tantalizing semi-final, although we notice that Westbrook has picked up an injury, ruling him out for 1-2 weeks. The Denver / Golden State series goes against seeding too, after the Nuggets claim the opening game before losing the next four. Ouch.
These predictions are what you might call mixed. Again, we'll have to wait and see how it unfolds in the real NBA, but we expect San Antonio to have a deep run into the 2013 Playoffs, despite a late burst from LA. Although we expect it to be close, it seems likely that Denver's exciting group of players will go further too, so we reckon that's a strange result too. Onwards.
Semi-finals - Eastern Conference
Yup and yup. With The Truth sidelined, the Celtics lose their opening three games against the Pacers. He's back for Game 4, which Boston wins, but can't make a difference in the next match, and the Greens' Playoff dreams are over. Meanwhile, the Pacers are looking strong and healthy for the finals. In the other semi, the Heat and Bulls share a 2-2 opening salvo, before the Heat kick into gear and snatch the next pair of games to see them comfortably through to the Eastern finals. LeBron is already topping the Playoff scorers table.
Given the match-ups thrown up by the first round, then we think NBA 2K13 has scored another sensible pair of results here. Boston don't have the squad depth for a decent Playoff run, whereas the Pacers do. Same goes for Miami, who have the right combination of assist-heavy play and individual talent to break down any defense, even one as tough as Chicago's.
Semi-finals - Western Conference
It's very likely that we really will see an OKC / LAC match-up in this round, although don't expect the series to be such a walk-over for LA. The series starts at 1-1, but then the Clippers accelerate to a 3-1 lead. Even without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder pull a game back, but they're out-muscled in the 6th game and lose the series 4-2. Meanwhile, the Lakers continue their unlikely run by winning a close contest with Golden State. Although the Warriors take a 2-0 lead, the Lakers quickly make it 3-2. It's all tied up, before the Lakers win the decider away from home. Hmm. Sure, this match-up would be a close one, but we don't see Los Angeles winning Game 7 away from home
Given the fact that the West is currently the most competitive Conference, these results are less shocking than they first appear. Sure, an all-LA Western final seems unlikely, but then again, it's not beyond the realms of possibility either. The odds favored the Thunder in their match-up with the Clippers, but with Westbrook sidelined, their exit isn't a total shock.
Eastern Conference Finals
This series is a repeat of the Eastern semis from last year, during which Indiana had something of a nightmare. Some of those games were comically one-sided, and sorry Pacers fans, the bad times are here again. The Heat sweep the finals 4-0, making short work of a totally healthy, seemingly in-form Indiana team. Ok, you can't argue with the Heat being favorites in any Eastern match-up, but when you consider the fact that Indiana actually won the regular season series against Miami 2-1, this result could be seen as 'harsh'. We don't disagree with the overall outcome, but we think 2K13 has dropped the ball by not calling this one to be closer.
Western Conference Finals
It's the battle of Los Angeles (which the media will surely call it, if this scenario actually happens) and oh my, 4-0 to the Lakers? No, just no. The fact that the Lakers are even in the competition at this stage is unlikely, but for them to sweep the Clippers - who won all four regular season games against the Lakers - is pretty unthinkable. We had to double check the injuries list, but aside from Caron Butler (who missed the whole series with an ankle injury) the Clippers were healthy. It's here NBA 2K13 falls down, because actually - on paper - the Lakers are a much better team than in real life. It just shows that, despite being an advanced piece of software, you can't predict what will happen when two giant egos like Kobe and Dwight try to squeeze onto the same court
This is it - the Playoff Finals - and Miami secure the championship for a second year running. The Heat actually take a 3-0 lead in our simulation, before the Lakers claw a single game back. It's all over after that, though, as the final game goes to Miami. Ouch. LeBron takes Playoff MVP, and leads all scorers, which will come as little surprise to anyone. Fair play - NBA 2K13 is probably spot-on with this one. In the event of an LA / Miami final, the Eastern side would probably take the win (Miami won the only meeting between the two teams in the regular season). In all, we think that - regardless of opposition - 2K has called the eventual winner of the Playoffs. A regular season winning streak of 27 games is tough to argue against.
In all, NBA 2K13 fared pretty well when it simulated the Playoffs. Hey, maybe LA went further than we'd expected, and maybe Indiana just didn't put up as much of a fight, but in all it's tough to argue against most of the game's selections. As for the Playoff Final beating that the Lakers took? Well, the 'oh my god' face of Earl Clark (pictured) says it all. Now, we just have to see how it all plays out in real life.
Want more top quality sports features? Look no further than our FIFA 14 preview (opens in new tab). Ok, so sports aren't for everyone, although if you're not excited about basketball we applaud you for getting this far. Why not reward yourself by checking out our 100 Most Anticipated Games of 2013 (opens in new tab)?