Our old pencil-pushing, pocket-protecting friends at Basketball Prospectus, Bradford Doolittle and Kevin Pelton, are simulating the entire 2011-2012 NBA season using Strat-O-Matic.
(Any jokes to be made here would just be cheap and obvious. Did you really expect anything less from them during a lockout?)
Anyway, according to their simulation, the Portland Trail Blazers lost their nationally-televised season opener at home to the Denver Nuggets, 107-103, on Thursday night despite 43 points and 13 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge.
NUGGETS 107, TRAIL BLAZERS 103: Denver is one of the more interesting teams in the simulation because we already know that J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin are committed overseas, and Ray Felton is now with the Blazers. The hit on the Nuggets' depth didn't faze George Karl's bunch early as Danilo Gallinari scored 11 points in four minutes to key a 21-2 Nuggets run. That was pretty much the game. The Blazers trailed by double digits until the closing minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge hit two free throws with 27 seconds remaining to pull Portland within three. Ty Lawson was intentionally fouled with nine seconds left. He missed the second free throw, but Aldridge missed on the other end to seal the win for Denver. On the debut front, Denver rebounding prodigy Kenneth Faried had five points and eight boards in 28 minutes and also chipped in with four steals. Aldridge had a monster game--43 points on 17-of-26 shooting to with 13 rebounds, eight on the offensive end. And, hey look! Greg Oden was back on the court.
Oden managed to chip in 6 points and 4 rebounds in 12 minutes. Click through above to see their full boxscores.
Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post also ran a simulation, by playing NBA 2K12 on Xbox against his friend, and the Nuggets prevailed in that one too.
Denver won its season opener 129-126 on Thursday night in dramatic fashion, knocking off division rival Portland in a gritty road victory.
Right away, we were stunned by how realistic the game was, everything from Kenyon Martin's neck tattoo to Greg Oden looking 89 years old. I played as Portland, while Nate, a local radio host for 102.3 The Ticket, coached the new-look Nuggets... Nate won the tipoff . . . which proved to be his greatest accomplishment in the first quarter. I got 14 quick points from sharpshooter Wesley "Sniper" Matthews, and, with 7:42 left in the first, Portland led 18-3 - at which point I quoted a Wesley Snipes film, "White Men Can't Jump," as I queried Kreckman: "Why don't we take all these bricks and build a shelter for the homeless?"
Down six with 11 seconds left, I made a ridiculous strategic blunder, taking a two-pointer with Brandon Roy. There wasn't enough time for me to get two more possessions, Nate made some free throws and the Nuggets won.
If you were looking for something to cheer up your lockout blues, it looks like you came to the wrong place. Sorry about that!
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter