Despite many fans (myself included) never thinking the NBA would continue its season after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, the league proved everyone wrong. Not only did they successfully finish the season, they did so with not one single positive test. Now, the NBA Finals are set to kick off in the NBA Bubble, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat set to take each other on for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Ahead of the start of the Finals, we decided it would be fun to see what NBA 2K21, one of our favorite sports games, thought would happen if we ran a simulation of the games. I headed over to the game's MyLeague mode, which has a built-in playoff bracket option that matches the bracket for the 2020 NBA Playoffs. From there, I used the most up to date roster set that the game had and simulated up until we had the Lakers and Heat in the Finals. Using a full, 12-minute simulation, I ran through the Finals a handful of times to see how the game thought things would go, and unfortunately for any Miami Heat fans out there, things went very well for the Lakers.
You can take a look at a game-by-game breakdown for the final simulation I did, as well as check out who took home Finals MVP honors, below:
Final: Lakers 134, Heat 114
Game 1 went to the Los Angeles Lakers in a huge way. After going down early in the first quarter, the Lakers rebounded and never looked back, going on a huge storm through the second half to capture the first game. The Lakers were led by LeBron james, who scored 33 points to go along with 5 assists and 12 rebounds in his incredible 10th NBA Finals appearance. The Lakers have had one of the best defenses in the NBA all year, and it showed, as the Heat were unable to get much going. Superstar Jimmy Butler, who led the Heat to the FInals, was unable to do much, scoring just 17 points on 7-12 from shooting during the loss.
Final: Heat 117, Lakers 90
The second game of the Finals saw the biggest punch from the Miami Heat, who stormed out to a 31-15 lead in the first quarter and dominated the rest of the way. Unlike Game 1, the Heat were able to get pretty much any shot they wanted to, with every player on the team shooting above 50% from the field. Heat point guard Goran Dragic led the charge, scoring 26 points on 9-16 shooting to go along with three assists. Rookie phenom Tyler Herro also helped lead the Heat to a win, as he scored 24 points and made four three-pointers during the win. Unfortunately for the Lakers, no one other than LeBron (who scored 32 points) was able to do much, as Anthony Davis scored just 14 points as the team's second highest scorer.
Final: Lakers 102, Heat 83
While Game 2 went MIami's way, Game 3 saw the Lakers settle in and take control of the pace, leading to a much lower-scoring game, which they won 102-83. This time around, it was Anthony Davis who led the Lakers in scoring. He posted 20 points to go along with nine rebounds in the Game 3 win. LeBron James didn't score as much, finishing with just 15 points, but he did dish out 10 assists, and his renewed effort on defense was more than enough to help stifle a Miami Heat team that went through masisve shooting slumps throughout the game.
Final: Lakers 114, Heat 79
Game 4 of the simulated NBA Finals was more of the same for the Lakers, as their stellar defense and overpowering offense was way too much for the Miami Heat. The Lakers led by nine after the first quarter, and continued to take control as time went on, including outscoring the Heat 22-12 in the third quarter en route to a massive 114-79 blowout win. LeBron James was once again the leading scorer for the Lakers, as he put up 32 points and 12 rebounds in another dominant performance. As for the Heat, it was another rough shooting night, with no one other than Goran Dragic (25) putting up more than 20 points. Despite Bam Adebayo's 20 rebounds, the Heat were unable to do much, with Jimmy Butler once again going quiet, scoring just 10 points in a downright awful performance.
Final: Lakers 119, Heat 90
LeBron James saved his best performance for last, putting on an absolute masterclass of basketball in the Lakers Game 5 victory. The superstar put up 48 points, six rebounds, and 14 assists in the championship clinching win, and also set the Lakers franchise record for most three-pointers in a playoff game with eight made threes. Long-time NBA veteran Dwight Howard also helped the Lakers, grabbing an astounding 19 rebounds to help the Lakers clinch their first championship since 2010. Despite looking like they would put up a fight after Game 2, the Miami Heat were simply no match for the Lakers defense, as Miami once again shot horribly outside of Goran Dragic, who scored another 25 points. The championship victory gives the Lakers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, LeBron James was named the Finals MVP for his stellar performance across all five simulated games. Not only did James lead the Lakers in nearly every category, but he also averaged an insane 32 points, 6 assists, and 9 rebounds throughout the Finals run. Should this happen in real-life, this would be James' fourth NBA Championship and fourth Finals MVP, and would also make LeBron James the first player in NBA history to win a championship and Finals MVP with three different organizations, as he's already won titles with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The NBA Finals begins tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET, so fans curious to see if these simulations end up being true will have to tune in to find out.
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