Just as "NBA 2K18" predicted before the season and throughout the playoffs, the 2018 NBA Finals will feature a fourth straight battle between the Warriors and Cavaliers.
Needless to say, making a call of Warriors-Cavs isn't exactly going out on a limb, but it's worth recognizing that the video game has proven its simulation engine prophetic in many other instances. This year's game already deserves credit for being right on six of the eight first-round series (including correctly predicting the surprise of the Pelicans over the Trail Blazers), nailing exactly how the Thunder's season would turn out post-Carmelo Anthony trade, and being on the mark with the final three games in the conference finals. The game got the margin of victory dead on in two of them.
Oddsmakers have set this as the most lopsided NBA Finals since 2002 when the Lakers swept the Nets; the Warriors were given an implied 90 percent chance of winning the series.
The NBA Finals was simulated over 60 times in "NBA 2K18," with accurate rosters, updated distribution of playing time and anticipated rotations. Andre Iguodala sat out the entirety of the series due to uncertainty over whether he will return from an injury.
Warriors over Cavaliers - 94 percent (expected outcome 4-1)
Despite a clear (justifiably so) bias from "NBA 2K" toward LeBron James, who on his own has been determined to be stronger than a handful of complete team rosters in the league, the Warriors were just too much, even without Iguodala. James managed a near triple-double average and was able to drag the Cavs to a decent number of individual wins along the way, but he just couldn't manage doing so four times in a series. He averaged 33 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Kevin Love was shown to be the only other consistent contributor for Cleveland with 17 points and eight rebounds per game. A role player on the team would occasionally step up, and that was about the only time the Cavs had a chance to win. They needed the Warriors to miss an abnormal number of 3-point attempts while topping them in bench points and holding an advantage in rebounds, second-chance points and turnovers.
Unfortunately for the Cavs, that formula's occurrence was a rarity. When the Warriors shot well, they were basically unbeatable. When they protected the ball by turning it over fewer times than Cleveland, again they were basically unbeatable. Golden State just has far more room for error given the advantage in talent. It wasn't good enough for Cleveland to play well - it also needed the Warriors to play poorly.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry played like the superstars they are. Durant averaged 26 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, while Curry put up 27 points and seven assists per game. Draymond Green averaged a near triple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Klay Thompson contributed 21 points per game.
Golden State won the series in a sweep 23 percent of the time, but the most common result was a finish in five games. Cleveland managed to extend the series to a Game 7 only 12 percent of the time.
NBA Finals MVP: Kevin Durant
"NBA 2K18" sees Durant winning a second consecutive NBA Finals MVP. He took home the award 61 percent of the time. The only other player to win the award was Curry.
Curry was more likely to win MVP in a short series in which his scoring average was above 30 points per game. The longer a series dragged on, the more likely Durant was to come out on top with a more complete and consistent stat line.
Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at Pastapadre.com, is co-founder of the sports gaming site HitThePass.com, hosts the "Press Row Podcast" and can be reached on Twitter @Pastapadre.
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