The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the world and put an end to sports as we know them, including the NBA.
The NBA was the first league to stop the game two weeks ago. It is not clear when the league could return or what it will be like when it does. Will there be an official champion of the 2019-20 season?
We’ve been robbed of what would surely have been an extremely compelling playoff, but luckily we can still take a look at the alternate timeline where the games continue.
Using extremely advanced technology (a copy of NBA 2K20 and a Playstation 4) we were able to simulate the rest of the NBA season from where it left off two weeks ago.
For the purpose of this exercise, we have chosen to play as the New York Knicks to make sure we don’t influence the playoffs at all.
The results may surprise you or not. Let’s recap!
The end of the regular season
Mostly everything has taken shape here, but there have been some surprises. When we last left the NBA, the Mavericks were seventh in the West, the 76ers were sixth in the East and the Grizzlies contained the eighth suit of the West.
The Mavs went late led by Luka Doncic and rose to fourth in the Western Conference ranking, while Damian Lillard and Trail Blazer took eighth place in the Grizzlies. The Sixers have risen to third place in the East.
Ja Morant may not have made the playoffs, but he brought home the debutante of the year honors. Giannis Antetokounmpo won his second consecutive MVP, holding back a delay from LeBron James.
Yes, things have become strange. Here are some takeaways from a wild and fake 2020 NBA playoff.
Luka goes out: The Mavericks swept the Nuggets in the first round, with Doncic averaging 34.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.5 assists in his first playoff series. Doncic’s run ended in the second round against LeBron and the Lakers, but it was an incredible playoff debut for the young Mavs star.
Oh no, Milwaukee: Giannis and Bucks easily outperformed Magic in the first round, but the MVP was shocked in five games by the Boston Celtics in the second round. Somewhere, Pat Riley smiles and rumors begin about Miami 2021.
Kawhi turns Harden off: The Houston Rockets have fallen to seed no. 7 and in an unfavorable matchup with Kawhi Leoanrd and Clippers in the first round. The Rockets and their extreme line-up of balls went wild in five games, with Harden averaging just 21.8 points. And so began an extremely uncertain offseason for coach Mike D’Antoni, GM Daryl Morey and even the Harden.
Chris Paul’s Revenge: Paul and the Thunder went from a pleasant surprise in the regular season to a circular saw in the playoffs. OKC shot down Utah in an exciting seven-game streak to open the playoffs, with Paul scoring 22 points in the deciding Game 7. Paul and the Thunder then shocked the Clippers in the second round, playing L.A. in five games. Suddenly, the off-season trade that sent Paul George to the Clippers and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, plus a bunch of choices at the Thunder, looks like one of the all-time one-sided offers. Thunder ‘s magical run ended with the Western Conference finals against the Lakers, but Paul added to his already complicated legacy.
Philly goes crazy: The 76ers were one of the most inconsistent and strangest teams of the regular season, but a late race led them to seed number 3. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons dominated in the first two rounds, sweeping Indiana and then Toronto, to take revenge on the heartbreaker from the semifinals of last year’s conference against the Raptors. Against all odds, Philly defeated Boston in a grueling seven-game Eastern Conference final to reach the NBA finals. Ironically, the Sixers took the step after losing Al Horford to the playoffs due to knee tendonitis. Simmons never shot three.
The Finals: 76ers roll
It was a rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals between 76ers and Lakers. Embiid averaged 28.5 points and 15.2 rebounds in the final, but would it be enough to stop Anthony Davis and LeBron?