In the 70 plus days since the NBA shut down operations, the same old conversations comparing basketball eras have been recycled incessantly. I decided I was tired of it and started lining up hypothetical matchups between NBA greats on NBA2K20.
NBA 2k20 is a cool tool to visualize how in-game matchups might work. For all the negativity I talk about the game 2K does an adequate job of programming tendencies and abilities to get an accurate view of play styles, and the way players work within their teams.
Naturally, I created a poll on twitter to decide which matchup to try first.
The 72-Win Chicago Bulls and the Big-3 Miami Heat are both impressive teams in their own right, and a matchup between these teams allows for us to also look at how a matchup between Prime LeBron James and Michael Jordan might play out.
Rules and Notes:
The Bulls have home-court advantage due to having a better regular season record (72-10)
I am playing as the home team in every game and making adjustments as the games continue, as would happen in an actual playoff series.
9-min quarters due to the increased speed of 2K in comparison to an actual game.
Game 1: Bulls 104-92 Heat (Bulls Lead 1-0)
I started the game with Rodman on LeBron, didn’t go well. I then Switched Pippen on LeBron, Pippen could bother him on the perimeter with his combination of size, quickness, and strength. Rodman helping on the drive proved to be effective. I strayed away from putting Jordan on LeBron defensively because I needed him to use more energy on offense.
Despite LeBron’s injury at the start of the 3rd, Wade and Bosh were able to hold their own, but without LeBron, Jordan’s offensive output was too much to match.
A Mario Chalmers/Ron Harper matchup at the PG spot is intriguing. Harper was an incredible defender, but Chalmers is more than capable of taking advantage of his opportunities when teams have to focus on stopping the Big 3.
The Heat threw Shane Battier and Mike Miller at Pippen, Battier is the better defender of the two, but Guarding Pippen is a whole other level. Even though Battier is a solid defender, Pippen can exploit any mistakes on the defensive end better than most.
Wade v. Jordan: Wade will still get his points, but dealing with Jordan for the majority of the game tired him out and limited his offensive scoring output. Wade put up a great fight and carried the Heat offensively after LeBron got hurt, but eventually, he runs out of steam having to deal with the G.O.A.T.
Chicago Bulls Luc Longley and Bill Wennington are looking at a LONG SERIES of dealing with the slashing of James and Wade, along with the skill of Chris Bosh. Despite being outmatched, these two get a boost for having Rodman crash the boards with them. This combination allows Chicago to clean the glass, and as a result, they have won the rebound battle through two games.
Notable Stats: (Bulls)
Jordan: 51/4/5 (20pts in the 4th)
Pippen: 19/4/2 (7-14), (2-4) from three
Luc Longley:9/15/5/1 (4-5)
48-34 Rebounds, Trailed by 17 before LeBron left game.
LeBron: 27/6/5 (Left in 3rd) +17 +/-
Wade: 25/2/1 (11-21) from the field
Bosh 10/15/3 and 1 block
Udonis Haslem +13 +/-
Game 2: Heat 117-110 Bulls
The main differences between Game 2 and Game 1:
- LeBron played the whole game and caught fire in the 1st with 24 points
- Pippen was cold (6-15) from the field
Matchup notes: Pippen was not holding his own against LeBron early and it took me switching MJ on him to slow his production down. LeBron still dropped buckets on buckets en route to a 60-point game.
Miami ends game on 27-13 run.
Chi- 12 turnovers
Mia- 20 points off turnovers
Scroll to 2nd tweet for game 2 highlights.
Notable stats: (Bulls)
Jordan: 44/6/4/1/3 (18-31), (1-4) from three
Pippen: 16pts on (6-15), (2-3) from three (-21) +/-
Kerr: (0-4) from three
LeBron: 60/9/4/2/1 (22-44), (2-4) from three (10-12) from the line
Wade: 22/8/5 (10-18)
Bosh: 16/11/1/2 (6-9)
Mario Chalmers: 8 assists, (+23) +/- (Highest on team)
After two the series heads to Miami all tied up. 1-1.
I’ll be bringing you the rest of the series with detailed analysis in the coming days and more DoB content every week on this site, twitter, and Instagram.