Building on our simulation of the Cavs-Pistons series — which hasn’t even started yet, so how can you even know if our prediction wasn’t accurate — the Uproxx overlords have asked me to simulate another first-round playoff matchup. I guess this is because ESPN is always getting all the attention with their fancy computer simulations.
But we have our own state-of-the-art simulation, and it is called NBA LIVE 97, so we’ve got that going for us.
(2) Toronto Raptors vs (7) Indiana Pacers
Does Indiana have a chance at pulling out the upset, like their real opening game suggests? Let’s take a dive into the simulation to find out.
Might we even call this a “deep dive?”
Toronto is the higher seed and the favorite, and I guess the game knows this, because being ranked 29th is better than being ranked 9th because 29 is more than 9. Learned that integer trick at the Sloan Conference.
The game begins and everyone just sort of starts running around in random directions.
Whoever has the ball dribbles around the arc as fast as he can, then jumps in the air for no apparent reason and either flings a cross-court pass or chucks a horrible fadeaway in the general direction of the rim. This is the exact offense my old high school team would run whenever the other team zoned us up, and if you’re wondering if it worked, I guess you haven’t heard about that Sportsmanship Trophy we won at that tournament we got knocked out of.
Anyway, the first quarter is a pretty low-scoring affair. George Hill is in this weird cycle of dribbling the ball out of bounds, then immediately attacking Kyle Lowry (in the game, Lowry’s name is spelled “Damon Stoudamire,” which is weird, but whatever), shoving him to the floor, picking up the loose ball, then careening out of bounds like a Bernie Bro crashing your Facebook feed.
Sensing this, Paul George moves up to take the ball from his point guard. This is a good strategy, because this happens:
If there’s two things that are largely obsolete in today’s NBA, it is three-pointers and free throws. Indiana knows this, and they are shrewdly avoiding the extra point you get for making baskets behind the arc. Two points were good enough for Jimmy Naismith; they’re good enough for Ian Manhinmi, dang it.
Toronto, meanwhile, decides to jump-start their offense by going back to basics: they put the ball in the hands of Jonas Valanciunas, like, 50 feet from the basket, and are like DO YOU, BIG FELLA.
So Jonas just sort of dribbles from side to side for the first 20 seconds of the shot clock and then lurches toward the hoop and the Pacers are all like ¯_(ツ)_/¯
We see you, Dwane Casey, not afraid to call for the Jonas Valanciunas iso.
This seems to anger the Pacers: They are tightening up the defensive pressure and hassling the Raptors into turnovers. Indiana’s small lead grows.
Then Kyle Lowry gets hot from the outside and brings Toronto back within striking distance.
The Pacers start leaving DeMar DeRozan to double team Lowry, and this seems like a bad idea, except DeMar DeRozan just sort of stands in the corner and is like AIN’T MY PROBLEM, FAM. Lowry decides that he can dribble through the entire Pacers team, and this is also a bad idea, because it leads to a turnover and a Paul George fast break:
The Pacers grind out an ugly, ugly win, with neither team cracking 90.
Also, neither team hits a free throw because the modern game is “soft” and free throws should be eliminated so DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond can stay in the game late.
As for the rest of the series, I set the game time to 3 minute quarters and quickly simulated it out. The Raptors promptly reeled off 4 in a row and won the series in 5. Is this accurate? I mean…sure, but some people will probably be rude and say ESPN’s simulations are more “scientific.”
Another thing that is rude is when you sneak into the Sloan Conference and try to give a presentation on Double Dribble and the security says you are “not invited” and that your nametag is “drawn in crayon.” That game was the best.