Can the Warriors keep winning? We ran an NBA 2K16 playoff simulation to find out
The 2015-16 NBA Playoffs are underway, with the sixteen best teams in the NBA facing off in a multi-game elimination bracket. You may have heard of it from the ads on multiple channels, the front page news about it on multiple websites, or your friends in social media saying how amazing/terrible their team or another is.
In the Western Conference, the smart money is on the Warriors to continue their insane, record-setting run through the league – although no one is counting out the Spurs. Out of the Eastern Conference, most expect the Cavaliers to squeeze through for the right to get destroyed by the Warriors or Spurs.
In celebration of the tournament, we decided to fire up NBA 2K16 and simulate the entire playoff run. It took a long, long time, but we did it. And the results were, well, unsurprising.
In our scenario, the Warriors continued their rampage on their way to win their second championship in a row. Once again they faced the Cleveland Cavaliers, and once again they kind of embarrassed them. Golden State won the series 4-1.
In one game, they won by 16 points. The only game they lost was by two in overtime, and it was in Cleveland.
The bigger challenge for the Warriors came against the Spurs in the Conference Finals. The series went to seven games, with each team winning at home. The biggest victory came from the Spurs, who took it with a six-point victory. Game three even went to double overtime.
In their run, the Warriors only dropped one other game throughout the playoffs, and it came down to an upstart team. After sweeping the Rockets, the Warriors faced the Portland Trailblazers (Rip City, baby!), who upset the Clippers in the first round. The Blazers didn’t have much of a shot, but they did steal a win at home by 12. It was a moral victory, because the other four games were blowouts.
If things actually play out like that, it will be a strange asterisk to the Warriors season.
Golden State set the record for the most regular season wins in NBA history, going a mind-blowing 73-9. that topped the previous record from the 95-96 Chicago Bulls, who went 72-10. In the playoffs though, the Bulls crushed their opponents, losing only three games in their entire championship run. If the Warriors lose more than that, expect the Chicago faithful to never let them forget it.
On the lower half of the Western side, the Spurs had a slightly tougher road, dropping one in the first round to the Grizzlies, and two to the Thunder in the second before facing the Warriors.
On the Eastern side, it was a little more unpredictable. The Cavs dropped one to the Pistons, and three to the Celtics. They faced the Raptors in the Conference Finals, where it went to seven games. Toronto got there after beating the Heat, and before that beating the Pacers in the first round.
Game simulations can’t take into account things like teams with momentum (take Villanova in the NCAA tournament, for example), nor does it really factor in the health of players – it tries, but you can never really predict how a person will rally when everything is on the line.
With all of that said, NBA 2K16 gives a clear indication of who the favorites are. Check out how correct they are as the playoffs continue until… wait, they go until mid-June? Nearly two months of NBA playoffs? Sweet gods…
Anyway, tune back in this June to see how right the game got it, or follow along at NBA.com.