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We Used ‘NBA 2K’ To Simulate Whether The Spurs Can Win Game 2 Without Kawhi Leonard

The San Antonio Spurs lost a 20-point lead in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. They also lost Kahwai Leonard for Game 2. Though it would be pretty a pretty tough hill to climb for the Spurs, they need a win to avoid falling behind 2-0 to the defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors.

But will Golden State roll over the Spurs without their defensive stud, or will someone else emerge from the Spurs’ lineup to have a big game and upset Golden State the same way they dispatched Houston in Game 6 of the previous round? There’s one way to find out: let NBA 2K17 decide for us.

While our simulation of Celtics/Wizards Game 7 wasn’t entirely accurate, who could account for Kelly Olynyk having the game of his life? Not me, and not the computers, who we should trust absolutely. You can watch the entire simulation here, but let’s go ahead and skip to the final results.

It’s an upset, after all! San Antonio couldn’t hold Golden State off in Game 1, but they finished the job on virtual Tuesday night. The Warriors didn’t appear to have a particularly stellar shooting night, while 42 bench points from the Spurs’ reserves makes a big difference here.

Look at that scoring distribution from the Spurs! LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 and Pau Gasol had 20, but after that the starters didn’t do a ton out there. Patty Mills was an assist away from a double-double, but the bench points were definitely significant here.

The Warriors, meanwhile, relied heavily on Steph Curry, who went 9 for 21 from behind the arc. His 41 points, six rebounds and nine assists is the best stat line of the game, but Golden State struggled to find scoring elsewhere on the roster. Klay Thompson continued his struggles virtually, with just 15 points and one 3-pointer in the game. Kevin Durant, likewise, only had 14 points in 25 minutes on the floor.

The shot chart makes this one pretty clear: Golden State lost the game on the boards. Draymond Green had just six points and five rebounds, which isn’t going to be good enough. Golden State out-rebounded the Spurs, but had a whopping 28 fewer points in the paint, more than enough to change the outcome of the game.


San Antonio missed just two shots under the basket. Though they shot poorly from the right wing, they took very few shots from there and consistently worked the ball inside to our game MVP.

Your player of the game? Pau Gasol!

Dude put up a crisp double-double and looked dominant inside for a Spurs team desperately needing a big game from someone to help get the series level as it heads back to San Antonio. Maybe a healthy Leonard is waiting for them, either in this reality or the world of 2K sports.

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