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Simulating a 1-16 Seeded Playoffs

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What could a 1-16 seeding of the playoffs result in?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be honest, we’re all pretty bored. We’re hearing that the NBA will be coming back, likely in July, but we don’t really know for sure and that’s still a long ways away in my brain. I wanted to try something different, although this is in no way unique as plenty of other sites have tried something similar, that is simulating a season/playoffs.

I was really intrigued by the idea of seeding teams 1-16 for the playoffs. I think it’s something that will eventually happen, and something that I’m mostly in favor of. With that in mind, I wanted to have a little fun with that experiment, so one a week, I’m going to simulate one round of a 1-16 seeded playoffs on NBA 2k20, and provide a write-up with series results.

Round One

LeBron Region

2. Lakers vs 15. Nets

Brooklyn, with a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, gave the Lakers quite a scare in the first-round. Kevin Durant poured in 53 points on 20-24 from the field and 9-11 from deep, delivering one of the greatest postseason performances in history to take a 1-0 lead and flip home court. Durant was noticably quiet in game two, finishing with only 14 points on 11 FGA, and LA evened up the series behind 31 points and 14 assists from LeBron James. The Nets took a 2-1 lead in the series, mostly behind Spencer Dinwiddie’s 30/5/9 on 9/15 and 7/11 from deep. LA was in trouble.

It was all Lakers from there, though, as Anthony Davis came through with a monster game 4, and LeBron took it home with 41/8/3 in game 5 and 38/8/3 in game 6. Through one series, James is the standout performer averaging 29/6.5/9/2 on 58.3% from the field. James got ample help from his big men, as Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard combined to average 51.2 points, 32.4 rebounds, and 5.3 blocks per game.

Lakers win 4-2

7. Jazz vs 10. Rockets

At last, the Jazz have finally gotten the better of the Rockets. Houston had no answer for the Jazz, resulting in a Gentleman’s Sweep. It was a balanced scoring attack, with seven Jazz players averaging between 10.0 and 17.2 points, led by ... Emmanuel Mudiay? Both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert struggled to shoot from the field, but Gobert still made an impact by averaging 18.4 rebounds per game as well as 2.4 blocks.

For Houston, this feels like the end of the road. Harden performed well, but Russell Westbrook and company really let the team down. Think about this, in a Gentleman’s Sweep, Harden finished with a +/- of 2, while Westbrook finished -39. The Rockets were disastrously bad whenever Harden was not on the floor.

Now the question becomes, can Utah upset the might Lakers?

Jazz win 4-1

6. Nuggets vs 11. Pacers

This series was hardly competitive, as Denver ousted Indiana in five ugly, ugly games that were all shown on NBATV. I kid, but this one truly was not competitive. Nikola Jokic was the best player in the series, averaging 14/11/6. If Denver is going to compete in the next round, they’re going to need Gary Harris to shoot better than the 31% he shot from the field against Indiana.

Nuggets win 4-1

3. Raptors vs 14. Grizzlies

UPSET!! We got one of those weird, funky upset that many are preparing for when the NBA actually does return, with the Memphis Grizzlies eliminating the defending champion Toronto Raptors in 6 games. The postseason demons are back in Toronto.

The Raptors actually won the first two games of the series behind Pascal Siakam’s outstanding play. Siakam gave Toronto 24 points in game one as well as 36 in game two. Unfortunately, it was all Memphis from there.

Game three was a back-and-forth affair, but Ja Morant and company used a big fourth quarter to put the champs away. The fourth game was over after three quarters, when Memphis was up 25 points heading into the final frame. Morant dropped 34 points in game five as Memphis cruised to a third straight victory, and then closed it out with 31 in game six. The Rookie of the Year averaged 25 points and 7 assists in his first playoff series, as a new star was officially born.

Grizzlies win 4-2

Giannis Region

1. Bucks vs 16. Magic

Well, this went exactly how you’d expect. Milwaukee swept Orlando, with no game being closer than 16, and every other victory by 33 points or more. Milwaukee has a much tougher test coming up.

Bucks win 4-0

8. Thunder vs 9. Heat

This looks like a stellar playoff series on paper, and that’s exactly what we got. This one came down to the final possession of game seven, as Jae Crowder broke 1 101-101 tie with a three-pointer with just 4.1 seconds to go.

There were phenomenal performances all around. Chris Paul averaged 23/6/9/3 over the course of the series, showing he still has a bit left in the tank. Ultimately, Oklahoma City just couldn’t get enough from their bench to survive a deep Miami team.

It was a predictably balanced effort for Miami. General Soreness led the way, posting a 16/6/4/2/1 line, and his co-star Bam Adebayo also showed out with 13 points and 13 rebounds per-game. It was a hard fought, ugly series. That’s exactly the way Miami wants to play, and if they have any hope of stopping the freight train that is Giannis and the Bucks, they’ll need to muck up the series again.

Heat win 4-3

5. Celtics vs 12. Sixers

This series has a lot of promise and intrigue, as these are two teams who generally aren’t too fond of each other. Maybe someone should tell the Sixers the series actually started.

Boston wiped the floor with Philly, eliminating them in five games. Boston’s versatility was too much for Philly, as it was a different guy every night who took control of Boston’s offense. Gordon Hayward in particular was magnificent.

One thing to watch here, Jayson Tatum turned his ankle in game five, will he be able to go in the next round?

Celtics win 4-1

4. Clippers vs 13. Mavs

This series showed us two things: Luka Doncic is a legitimate superstar, and Kawhi Leonard is still a cyborg.

Doncic CARRIED the Mavs throughout this series, as they were able to push the heavyweight Clippers to six brutally competitive games. In his first playoff action, Doncic averaged 27/11/8 on 51% from the floor and 37% from 3. He was the only consistent threat for Dallas, and established himself as the true future face of the league. Safe to say, the league is in good hands there.

Still, it didn’t much matter as Kawhi and Paul George ripped the Mavs hearts out. Kawhi, stoic as ever, put forth 27/8/4/3. George posted similar numbers while drilling half of his 8 3PA per-game. That wing duo, when healthy, is as fearsome as they come, and they truly just demolished Dallas.

Clippers win 4-2

Looking Ahead

Whew, this second-round looks fun. The Lakers get a confident Utah team that just pummeled Houston. Can LeBron keep carrying the load? Will the Lakers size be as big of an advantage against Gobert?

Denver and Memphis is every NBA Hipster’s dream. There’s going to be gorgeous passing, high-flying dunks, and several players trying to make a name for themselves. Denver is the heavy favorite, but is anyone really going to bet against Ja Morant and a scorching hot Grizzlies team that just defeated the reigning champs?

On the other side of the bracket, we have two doozy’s. Giannis and the Bucks take on Jimmy, Bam, and the Heat. Miami figures to be pretty well equipped to at least slow the Bucks down, but can they score enough to make this a long series?

Finally, the highlight of the second-round features the Celtics and the Clippers. This one is going to have great play on the wings from both sides, and it figures to come down to how well Boston shoots from behind the three-point line. The biggest question, though, is the status of Jayson Tatum’s bum ankle.