One thing that sports websites like to do now is simulate games that haven’t happened yet. This is so they can tell you what might happen, because numbers, or something. To accomplish this, they use the latest video game and computer technology, kind of like when I was in high school and tried to use Windows 3.1 and AOL Instant Messenger to get dates, except ESPN will occasionally get lucky, while I did not.
When I contacted the DIME overlords to ask if I could do some NBA Playoff simulations, I was delighted when they said yes. I was beyond delighted when they assured me that I would be provided with the latest video game titles with which to run my simulations!
SIMULATION No. 1:
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (8) Detroit Pistons
DIME’s Managing Editor gives me a top secret-looking package. Actually it’s just a paper grocery bag that’s taped shut, but it feels top secret, you know? I open it, but to be honest I’m confused: I’ve never seen this video game before. It must be a screener.
NBA Action ‘94 for Sega Genesis? HECK YES! THAT IS HOW I PREFER MY NBA, WITH ACTION!
This looks state of the art; I’m all in on this.
Probably the hardest thing will be resisting the temptation to grab the controller and immediately play the game instead of letting it just run a simulation. There will be plenty of time to play later; right now is all about HARD ANALYTICS, so I’d better set up Pistons vs. Cavs.
Eat your heart out, Worldwide Leader, THIS GAME IS REAL LIFE.
I set up the simulation and kick back.
Guys, it’s like I’m watching the real thing. Only better. Every time the ball crosses half court—get this—the camera swings around, like you’re in a motherflippin’ roller coaster. When was the last time you got that kind of thrill from regular ol’ TV camera angles? NEVER, FAM.
The game starts out pretty tight. Opening round jitters, I guess. (This game thought of everything!)
I mean what is Reggie Jackson even doing, just standing there at the free throw line? Come on, RJ.
LeBron starts building an early lead for the Cavs, and guys, I swear I can almost hear Stan Van Gundy’s high-pitched shrieking from the Detroit bench.
And here comes JR Smith on a breakaway, going in for a layu—
NOPE, A REVERSE LAYUP.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HOW DID THEY EVEN GET THAT IN THE GAME?
We get through halftime and LeBron has his guys firmly in control. No surprise there. Kevin Love has been super quiet, though. Tristan Thompson seems to be getting all his minutes, and for good reason: TT has blocked like 50 shots in this game already, and it’s only the third quarter. Cleveland would be blowing the Pistons out, if not for…
Reggie. Flippin’. Jackson. Dude is on FIRE in this game. Delly can’t stay with him.
Suddenly Cleveland goes into a cold spell. This isn’t good. Kyrie starts throwing the ball away. JR Smith can’t buy a bucket.
Meanwhile Reggie is just clowning the Cavs. He has about 118 of Detroit’s 126 points.
Time is running out for Cleveland. Under a minute left. LeBron gives up the ball and JR Smith takes a loooong 3.
Who’s got that board? ANDRE DRUMMOND’S GOT THAT BOARD. Dude just wanted it more than the Cavs players.
Detroit’s going to win this.
This is really happening. Detroit just won this game.
Guys, I gotta be honest: it looked like the moment was a little too big for Ty Lue. The Cavs got a big lead and when SVG turned up the tempo, and Lue seemed a bit lost.
Curious as to how the series would play itself out, we ran a few more games through the simulation, and Detroit pulled off a shocking series-clinching win in Game 6. Then the simulation predicted that LeBron left the Cavs to sign in Philly, but I think maybe I dreamed that last part. It was getting pretty late.