NBA 2K10 simulation predicts Lakers will lose NBA Finals against Boston Celtics in five games
That's why I have some news to report that certainly won't sit well with Lakers fans. When I ran the simulation on how the NBA Finals would turn out between the Lakers and Celtics, it predicted Boston would take the series in five games.
So much for the Lakers avenging their 2008 Finals loss to Boston. So much for keeping your schedule open for a championship parade for the second consecutive year. And so much for gearing up for what has gotten you so giddy this last week as it became more and more apparent that the Lakers and Celtics would meet in the Finals for the 12th time in NBA history.
Before you dismiss what NBA2K10 predicts could become an unfortunate reality for the Lakers, consider this another motivating tool that the Lakers can use beyond their 2008 Finals loss to Boston. They still have enough time to reverse their fate, because the breakdown below appears far from pretty for the Lakers.
Game 1: Lakers lose, 99-98
Lakers' top performer: Kobe Bryant (34 points on 12-of-24 shooting and six assists in 42 minutes)
Celtics' top performer: Rajon Rondo (22 points on nine-of-11 shooting and four assists in only 23 minutes)
How the game was decided: The Lakers started off the game building false confidence and ended the game in a state of confusion. After the Lakers stormed out to a 41-24 first-quarter lead, the Celtics responded with a 37-19 second quarter. Though the game went nip-and-tuck the rest of the way, it became clear the Lakers' backcourt could not keep up with Rondo. Lakers guard Derek Fisher entered the NBA Finals shooting at a prolific 45.9% this postseason, but shot only two of 10 in Game 1. The rest of the Lakers' backcourt provided little help with Jordan Farmar going zero of five from the field and Shannon Brown going scoreless in 14 minutes. The Sasha Vujacic-Goran Dragic episode in Game 6 of the Lakers' Western Conference finals against Phoenix irritated Phil Jackson so much that Vujacic didn't play a single minute. No one had any answer to stop Rondo, who scored a ridiculous 22 points in only 23 minutes, proved he's more than a feeder and showed those muscle spasms he endured against Orlando don't bother him. The Lakers' series-opening loss became especially head scratching considering Bryant's dominance (34 points), Ron Artest held Paul Pierce to five-of-14 shooting and Pau Gasol's 23 points eclipsed the production from Celtics frontline of Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, which combined for only 22 points.
Game 2: Lakers lose, 97-90
Lakers top performer: Andrew Bynum (19 points on nine-of-15 shooting and nine rebounds)
Celtics top performer: Kevin Garnett (20 points on eight-of-17 shooting and seven rebounds)
How the game was decided: Instead of allowing the Celtics to slash away at a sizable lead like they did in Game 1, the Lakers left the locker room in the second half apparently forgetting to lace their shoes. The Celtics entered the fourth quarter with an 83-67 lead after outscoring the Lakers, 32-22, in the third quarter. They orchestrated a late-game comeback by outscoring Boston by nine points in the final period, but it was too little, too late. Bryant had a rare bad showing, scoring only 17 points on six-of-21 shooting, marking the first time in five games that he didn't score at least 30 points. Bynum revealed afterward the torn cartilage in his right knee no longer bothers him, but his 19 points and nine rebounds essentially offset Garnett's 20 points.
Game 3: Lakers lose, 118-100
Lakers top performer: Bryant (26 points on 12-of-26 shooting and seven assists)
Celtics top performer: Pierce (22 points on eight-of-16 shooting)
How the game was decided: You'd think the Lakers would display a stronger effort facing a 2-0 deficit. But the Lakers lost this game from the very beginning, allowing Boston to outscore them in the first three quarters after falling behind 34-24 in the first period. Bryant rebounded from his poor showing in Game 2, but very little else went right for the Lakers. Artest played poorly both offensively and defensively, shooting four of 12 from the field and two of eight from three-point range while allowing Pierce to have a breakout game. The Lakers' backcourt continued having trouble defending Ray Allen (22 points on eight of 16 shooting) and Rondo (21 points on seven of 15 shooting and 10 assists). The Lakers also had trouble getting the ball inside, with Bynum, Gasol and Lamar Odom combining for only 29 shots.
Game 4: Lakers win, 103-83
Lakers top performer: Bryant (33 points on 12-of-27 shooting and six assists)
Celtics top performer: Allen (21 points on seven-of-14 shooting and four of seven from three-point range)
How the game was decided: Well, at least the Lakers didn't get swept. But the performance suggested more that Boston took a night off than the Lakers finally showed up. Pierce and Garnett combined for an 11-of-28 clip from the field, the Celtics committed 22 turnovers and the Lakers outscored the Celtics in the first three quarters. Bynum had an efficient 16 points and 10 rebounds on seven-of-eight shooting, but Gasol and Odom disappeared with a combined eight-of-22 effort from the field.
Game 5: Lakers lose, 118-113
Lakers top performer: Bryant (32 points on 13-of-23 shooting, 12 assists)
Celtics top performer: Allen (24 points on six-of-12 shooting)
How the game was decided: The Lakers actually put up a better effort in Game 5 than Game 4, but Boston increased its intensity knowing that it didn't want the Lakers to creep back into the series like Orlando did in the Eastern Conference finals. The Lakers had very few answers for Allen (24 points), Pierce (23 points), Garnett (22 points) and Rondo (18 points), whose 16 points and 10.6 assists a contest earned him the Finals MVP. Bryant continued his dominance. Artest improved his shooting for 25 points by making nine of 14. And Farmar provided a boost with 16 points in 18 minutes after Fisher went scoreless in 32 minutes. But the Lakers couldn't match the Celtics because they didn't utilize the post enough. Gasol had 16 points and 13 rebounds, but got only eight shots. Bynum had only eight points because he took just five shots. And Odom continued to remain ineffective with only six points on one-of-three shooting. The Lakers now enter the off-season filled with many questions, ranging from Jackson's coaching future, free agency and whether the organization will re-sign Farmar, Brown and Adam Morrison. There is no simulation available for what will transpire in the off-season, but it will likely be a long one.
Photo: A simulation in NBA2K10 predicts Paul Pierce and the Celtics will win in five games. Credit: Brian Snyder / Reuters