To paraphrase one of the all time great wrestlers…finally meaningful basketball has come back to the NBA. That’s right, it’s the NBA playoffs. No more load management, no more tanking for Zion, just teams playing their best players in an attempt to win games – what a concept!
We decided to let our game, Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 2019, sim out the playoffs and evaluate the results. I want to note here that because DDS:PB 2019 does not come with any licensed information built in, to accomplish this we downloaded a community created mod file and then further modified it ourselves in order to have accurate playoff rosters and injury scenarios. We also set injury percentage to 0% for the playoffs and ran numerous simulations so that we would not have fluke results due to injury and of course the game has no way of knowing who might miss a game for suspension due to too many technical fouls – not like that would negatively impact a series, right? (looking at you Draymond). With those caveats out of the way – let’s hoop.
ROUND 1 – EAST
We will start with the 1-8 matchup Milwaukee vs Detroit. Detroit is not a real good team to start with and a gimpy Blake Griffin doesn’t help that. Out simulations give Milwaukee the nod here every time. WINNER : MILWAUKEE
The 2-7 matchup in the East doesn’t appear to be much more competitive. Orlando was a surprise to make the playoffs but the talent level just doesn’t matchup with Toronto. Our simulation isn’t giving Orlando no chance though – there is a very small possibility of an upset. Orlando has played very well lately and it would be fitting for the Disney sponsored team to pull off a Cinderella story. WINNER : TORONTO
Continuing on with our theme in the East of powerhouse versus surprising playoff team we get Philly and Brooklyn in the 3-6. Philly was able to take this matchup every time as well and they should be headed to round 2 pretty easily. So far the East is a real snoozer. WINNER : PHILADELPHIA
The final matchup in the East didn’t fare much more competitive. Boston v Indiana would have been a better matchup with a healthy Oladipo but this one doesn’t look very troubling for Boston. Indiana plays hard but so does everyone in the playoffs. WINNER : BOSTON
ROUND 1 – WEST
The West isn’t going to start off any more competitive in the 1-8 matchup there with Golden State taking on LA. I have to admire the season LA put together. They drafted well with SGA, traded Harris for a decent rookie (Shamet) and two 1sts, have a ton of cap space going forward next season and made the playoffs. That won’t amount to much against Golden State as our sim shows them winning this matchup handily but still impressive nonetheless. WINNER : GOLDEN STATE
Here’s where things could get interesting according to our sim – the 2-7 series between Denver and San Antonio. Denver and San Antonio split the season series 2-2 and our sim has San Antonio coming out on top 60/40 in this one. Denver doesn’t have the experience San Antonio does and San Antonio does have Pop. This should be a fun series. WINNER : SAN ANTONIO
Another great first round series should be Portland vs Oklahoma City in the 3-6 matchup. Portland suffered a tough injury losing Nurkic for the year but our simulation showed that Enes Kanter can certainly fill up the stat sheet in his place. We’re assuming McCollum is playing in this series and that gives Portland a slight edge. WINNER : PORTLAND
The West first round finishes off with Houston and Utah in the 4-5. Utah is thin in the backcourt with Rubio and Neto banged up and Exum out. Gobert will have some impact on Harden and our simulation did show a small chance for Utah in this series but it looks like its pretty comfortable to assume CP3 and Harden will carry Houston to victory. WINNER: HOUSTON
ROUND 2 – EAST
Now the fun begins in the East. As good as our simulation engine is the one thing we are not taking into account in this particular simulation is the mental side of the game. DDS:PB 2019 is calling for an upset in the 1-4 series in the East with Boston surprising Milwaukee behind some amazing Kyrie Irving play. If Kyrie is dialed in this could happen – Boston has the playoff experience that Milwaukee doesn’t and if somehow they can contain Giannis I’m not sure who else on that squad has the ability to beat them. WINNER : BOSTON
In the other Eastern conference semi-final we get Toronto and Philly. Both of these teams have issues in terms of chemistry and I guess we will see how much that matters – Philly added significant new players in Butler and Harris during the season while Toronto played games with load management all year. DDS:PB 2019 is feeling the brotherly love in this series though sending Philly on. WINNER : PHILADELPHIA
ROUND 2 – WEST
If there’s one team in the West that can stop Golden State it would be Houston. Some think they would have done it last year had it not been for a CP3 injury but Golden State added DeMarcus Cousins to a championship team and our sim isn’t giving Houston too much of a chance here. The real WCF happens in round 2 and its going to Golden State. WINNER : GOLDEN STATE
The other West semi-final is going to be a true coin flip. Out of the simulations we ran San Antonio reached the WCF 40% of the time as did Portland with OKC making it the other 20% (sorry Denver). This would be a terrific series with a revenge narrative for Portland against LMA. We had to look back at every game simmed here to find a winner and DDS:PB 2019 is going with San Antonio in a seven game war. WINNER : SAN ANTONIO
A Philly/Boston Eastern Conference Finals would be alot of fun. Marcus Smart should be back for this series giving Boston a significant advantage depth wise. Philly has a big four (Embiid, Simmons, Butler, Harris) to rival anyone in the league but they don’t have much depth and at this point in the playoffs that big four is going to be pretty tired out. Boston has better depth and again if Kyrie is dialed in he knows what it takes to win it all. Who’s going to the finals? WINNER : BOSTON
While a Philly/Boston ECF would be an exciting we don’t see a Golden State/anyone WCF being all that exciting. Like we said the best chance for someone to beat Golden State was round 2 with Houston. No matter who gets here Golden State shouldn’t have any problem getting back to the finals. WINNER : GOLDEN STATE
Well we simmed it out and came to the same conclusion SI did before the season started. Golden State vs Boston stand as the top two teams in the conclusion to the NBA playoffs. Much to nobody’s surprise it looks like it will be Golden State hoisting the trophy once again but if Boston does get this far it will be because Kyrie is playing the ball he is capable of and that would make him very dangerous. This could be a series and who knows – this battle in the Finals could be the catalyst for teaming Kyrie and KD next season but for now… WINNER AND CHAMPIONS : GOLDEN STATE
As you can see we’re predicting chaos all around outside of Golden State which in reality is sort of the case. Nobody is as good as Golden State and the other teams at the top of the standings (Milwaukee, Toronto, Denver) have had great regular season success this year but don’t have much or anything to show for the playoffs with their current squads. Philly doesn’t have much depth but does have an awful lot of talent at the top. Houston has the MVP and Boston might just surprise everyone who has written them off already and maybe Pop is just cagey enough and has a favorable enough draw to get back to the WCF. Would it really surprise anyone?
Let the playoffs begin! Comment below with what you think of our sim results and with who your own predictions for the 2019 NBA playoffs.