It was not difficult to envision a Western Conference Finals showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers and Eastern Conference Finals showdown between the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics at the start of the 2019-20 NBA season.
It's happening, only virtually.
On Friday, 2K released the results of the second round of the #2KSim NBA Playoffs, and the two Los Angeles teams, as well as Milwaukee and Boston, advanced. The #2KSim started simulating the remainder of the 2019-20 season after it was suspended March 11 because of COVID-19 concerns and will culminate in the NBA Finals on May 15, following the Conference Finals on May 8.
The second round did not lack drama.
The Lakers needed seven games to dispatch the fifth-seeded Houston Rockets, advancing largely because they kept Russell Westbrook relatively in check. The triple-double machine averaged just 13.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game during the series, while LeBron James put up 27.1 points, 9.3 assists and 8.0 rebounds per night.
It wasn't the only seven-game series, as the Bucks outlasted the fourth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers even though MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged a mere 19.6 points per contest.
A seven-game loss in the second round seems particularly cruel for the 76ers, considering that is exactly what happened to them in the actual playoffs last year when Kawhi Leonard drilled a buzzer-beater on the way to leading the Toronto Raptors to the title.
The virtual Raptors could not defend that title, though, as they lost in five games to the Celtics. Boston used a balanced attack with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward all averaging better than 17.0 points per game.
Toronto could have used Leonard, who propelled the Clippers to a six-game victory over the Dallas Mavericks behind 22.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
The reigning NBA Finals MVP will now get his chance at beating James in the Western Conference Finals, at least in the virtual world.