It’s video game week at SB Nation, so loading up NBA 2K feels appropriate. To get a little competition going, Adam Taylor over at CelticsBlog invited me to take part in a 2K playoff series between the Sixers and Celtics. As the representative of Liberty Ballers, I will obviously be playing as the Sixers. It’ll be a typical seven-game series, with us playing a game every other day until a winner is decided.
Game 1 tipped off yesterday (June 16) at 4 PM ET (streaming live on Adam’s Twitch, which will be the case for all games) and went as well as I could have hoped. I managed to pick up the win, 78-47.
I’m not a very good 2K player, but I at least knew that I could make the kind of adjustments that the Sixers should be making in real life. I made the mistake of pressing “start” too quickly as I was waiting for the game to load, and missed my opportunity to change the starting five before tip-off. Nevertheless, as soon as I could, I sent Al Horford straight to the bench and brought in Matisse Thybulle (unfortunately Shake Milton isn’t that good in 2K, so I opted for Thybulle’s defense and fairly easy-to-use jumper).
I went into the game intending to push the pace as much as possible (as 2K Ben Simmons is even better in transition), play fairly aggressive man-to-man defense, get Joel Embiid going inside, stagger Simmons and Embiid to keep at least one of them on the floor at all times, and run what simple actions I could to create some decent looks from three.
Simmons went to work in transition — his 2K self is even harder to stop when he’s rumbling downhill to the rim, especially with improved dunking. He led the way for me the whole game, finishing up with 21 points, 5 assists and a pair of steals, and a shooting mark of 10-of-11 from the floor, which would have been perfect if I didn’t get overly confident and fire up a three-pointer.
Embiid worked effectively in the paint at both ends of the floor (finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks), but turned into more of a passing hub on offense for me. Against a pretty aggressive defense and some zone, I used him frequently to hit open corner shooters and keep the ball moving. I managed to finish the game shooting 63 percent, including an 11-of-22 mark from three (if only the real-life Sixers were actually this confident and efficient from deep).
I kept my rotations straightforward, primarily relying on a few backups to take advantage of how long 2K players (my starters) can last in 5 minute virtual quarters. Raul Neto got 5 minutes and hit a pair of threes, Mike Scott scored 5 points in 6 minutes, and Matisse Thybulle played 11 minutes and added 4 assists and a triple.
Meanwhile, Horford spent most of the game on the bench... He played just 6 minutes to give Embiid some rest.
Game 2 will be at 4 PM ET on Thursday, June 18, which you can watch live on Adam’s Twitch, if you’re after any kind of basketball/Sixers content until real NBA action returns.