I love playoff basketball, partly because it's basketball at the highest level. There aren't any Tomato Can matchups (well...maybe the Mavs/OKC) and the argument can be made that all the teams are atleast "solid". One of the coolest things is to watch the game and compare it to NBA 2K's stellar gameplay, to see the aspects that are being displayed well as well as the stuff that needs work.
It was lovely to see some teams compete in close matchups (Detroit) while others (Dallas, Hornets, Portland) basically laid down or are decimated by injuries (Memphis). The most impressive individual showing to me was the masterpiece Paul George had on the road in Toronto. He simultaneously shut-down Derozan while killing him offensively, putting to rest any questions about his returning to form. Here are some of the other things I noticed.....
1. NBA players miss alot of so-called "easy" shots, yes even the "but he was wide open" ones. If you're playing NBA 2K and break controllers/go on forums complaining about misses you're probably not watching enough real basketball--and you should. Put the controller down once in awhile and watch the game be played. FACT: Most of the teams playing this weekend missed over half of their shots.
2. Kawhi Leonard is a BEAST on defense, its no surprise that he's the DPOY. He plays physical defense without fouling, is hard to beat off the dribble, plays the passing lanes, fights through screens, strips the ball, beats guys to the spot (charges anyone?) challenges everything and is a nuisance in general. I don't see the Spurs enough to notice how effective he is in 2K but 1) I hope he is and 2) I look forward to seeing the maturation of effectiveness by elite perimeter defenders in NBA 2K17.
3. Good teams in the NBA can execute in the half-court. I looked really hard for the lob-the-ball-half-court offense, but it was nowhere to be found. *shrugs* Maybe next weekend?
4. NBA 2K has to display the interaction between an offensive player on the perimeter and a defender "running out" to challenge much better. Momentum usually dictates that this is usually the easiest defender to beat. You DO see guys run out and successfully stop dribble penetration, but its not often. Giving defenses the option to run out under control would be a proper counter, but would all but guarantee an open perimeter shot. Decisions, Decisions...
5. There's simply too much physical contact on the perimeter in 2K. Watching basketball at the highest level reinforces this. While no one wants a game where we go through defenders, the game needs to be a little more free flowing. Players avoid contact for the most part. Ball-handlers semi-colliding with defenders is one thing, but defenders ramming into guys to slow fast breaks and initiating gross physical contact would never fly in today's NBA. On the flipside NBA ball-handlers would be turnover machines if they sped into defenders like we sometimes see in 2K. No one wants to reward good defense more than me, but it can't be by turning every 2K game into a matchup versus the 90s era Detroit "Bad Boys".
6. Pick and Roll gameplay really varies. Sometimes it flows well, other times guys get stoned or neutralized by the different looks the defense gives or by good defense at the point of attack. 2K does a really good job displaying this. Variety and a little chaos theory is a good thing.
7. Blocks are really going to have to come down in 2K, when NBA teams are getting less blocks in 12 minute quarters than 2K teams get in 5 (the high for every game played the entire weekend was 9, and most teams had much less than that) Something is very wrong. The frequency is too high and the anyone-can-be-a-shot-blocker nature of the system is poorly done. It'd be one thing if there wasn't a mechanic to play defense but with the hands-up and contest options no such claim can be made. Despite what you hear about it being a band-aid for gameplay, thats a poor excuse at best. Right Stick defense definitely needs to improve but its the quick, dynamic, intuitive way to affect offenses gameplay needs. That users feel comfortable attempting chase-downs with anyone on the court and "blocking" jump shots speaks to how bad blocks are currently. I'm crossing my fingers rectifying this is a focus for 2K17.
8. Know what else I noticed? You really, really see the difference in the success of contested shots from isolation versus good looks taken in the flow of NBA offenses, but more on that later. I have some really serious questions about the properness of "user bonuses" that I want to pose to Sim Nation.
We're sure to see more standout performances in the playoffs but to me the ratings changes should be slight, I dont want to see guys attributes going up dramatically for playing like their ratings dictate they SHOULD. There's no question we probably inflate what we see in the playoffs, but its where legacies are made. Its not a coincidence the league's MVP is named after the first round. Anyway, I'll be doing more articles on my observations of playoff basketball and how it relates to 2K in the future. I'll talk to you guys later on.