When the NBA suspended play on March 12, about 15-17 games per team short of a full 82-game schedule, fans across North America were deprived of some exciting races for playoff berths and seeding positions. So Strat-O-Matic (www.strat-o-matic.com), the market leader in sports simulations, played out the rest of the regular season, which was scheduled to end today, and based on those results will continue to simulate the postseason, day-by-day, through the Finals in mid-June as scheduled, or until live action on the court resumes.
The Milwaukee Bucks, who stood at 53-12 when play was halted, went 14-3 down the stretch in the simulation to outpace the defending champion Raptors (58-24) by nine games for the best overall NBA record and top Eastern Conference seed. Toronto gained the #2 slot over the Celtics (55-27) and Heat (50-32). Rounding out the eight East playoff squads are #5 Indiana (50-32), #6 Philadelphia (48-34), #7 Orlando (39-43) and #8 Brooklyn (39-43).
The Western Conference shook out with the Los Angeles Lakers earning their first playoff spot since 2012-13, at 63-19, five games ahead of #2 Denver (58-24, including 10 straight wins to close the season), seven better than the third-seeded L.A. Clippers (56-26) and 10 lengths past #4 Houston (53-29). Utah (51-31), Oklahoma City (48-34), Dallas (45-37) and New Orleans (41-41, including a 4-1 finish) took the final four spots, respectively, edging Portland, which won seven straight late-season contests but went 1-3 in its last four to finish 40-42 and miss by a game.
The contest played during the simulation produced some outstanding individual performances as well. The Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday exploded for a career-best 59 points, completing a triple-double with 12 rebounds and 15 assists in a March 18 win over San Antonio. League MVP Giannis Antentokounmpo of the Bucks, who for the full season including simulated games averaged 29.3 ppg, 13.5 rpg and 5.4 apg, posted 52 points and 17 rebounds on March 12 against Boston. Houston scoring machine James Harden had consecutive 50 point games (52 on March 23 and 51 on March 25) with another 52 point game April 8 vs San Antonio.
Antetokounmpo was selected league MVP, with the Lakers’ LeBron James (26.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 10.6 apg), Harden (34.6, 6.7, 7.6), James’ teammate Anthony Davis (26.0, 10.1, 3.1) and Denver’s Nikola Jokić (20.7, 10.9, 6.8) rounding out the top five in the race.
“While Strat-O-Matic is known most for baseball, we have refined our basketball and other sports games over the decades,” said Hal Richman, Strat-O-Matic founder. “Basketball fans didn’t get to find out how the playoff races played out in the final month of the season, but our simulation sets up some exciting playoff matchups that we hope fans will want to follow through to the championship.”
Full playoff results and game boxscores are available to fans each day beginning at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m PT on April 18th at http://www.strat-o-matic.com/2020-basketball-playoffs/.
The first-round playoff matchups in the 2020 Strat-O-Matic simulation, best-of-seven series, in 2-2-1-1-1 home/away format, are as follows:
#1 Milwaukee vs. #8 Brooklyn
#2 Toronto vs. #7 Orlando
#3 Boston vs. #6 Philadelphia
#4 Miami vs. #5 Indiana
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #8 New Orleans
#2 Denver vs. #7 Dallas
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 Oklahoma City
#4 Houston vs. #5 Utah
Fans with questions about any facet of the daily simulation can contact Strat-O-Matic at email@example.com.
The NBA sim is in addition to the day by day simulation Strat-O-Matic is running for the current Major League Baseball season. You can get updates on the MLB side at http://www.strat-o-matic.com/2020-season-simulation/.