The Simulated 2005 NBA finals

With the real NBA Finals between the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs set to begin tonight, how did these teams fare when the series was simulated on NBA Live 2005, and ESPN 2K5? Find out in this special feature!

By Brian Ekberg
Design by Collin Oguro

Where NBA powerhouses once reigned in massive metropolises such as Los Angeles and Chicago, these days it's the slightly smaller burgs like San Antonio and Detroit that are home to the best pro basketball talent in the nation. Last year's champions, the Detroit Pistons are back, and just like last year, they bring a physical style of play, a commanding defensive prowess, and a head coach that attracts controversy wherever he goes. Though many doubted their chances against the Miami Heat, the Pistons dug down deeply and broke down D-Wade and Shaq so they could go for consecutive championship titles. Down in the Lone Star State, the San Antonio Spurs quietly shut down the Phoenix Suns--a team many had pegged as a shoo-in for the finals--in the Western Conference Championship series through the masterful leadership of Tim Duncan and the frenetic, flaying, flopping Manu Ginobli.

The 2005 NBA Finals

On paper, this Spurs-Pistons matchup is attractive indeed, with the pushy Pistons intent on slowing down the game and scoring just enough points to win versus a fairly potent San Antonio offense, which, thanks to Manu Ginobli's razor-sharp elbows, is no stranger to rough play itself. We'll find out how the real games will play out tonight when the real series gets under way. But if you'd like a peek into the future--or at least a future as predicted by NBA Live 2005 and ESPN NBA 2K5--then check out our feature. We simulated the finals on both games using 10-minute quarters and the default difficulty level.

NBA Live 2005
Detroit Pistons versus San Antonio Spurs

Game One
Detroit definitely made a statement in the first half of game one of the NBA Live 2005 finals, following a dominating performance from Rasheed Wallace, who had 10 points in the first quarter alone. As expected, the Pistons were intent on playing tough defense from the outset, outblocking San Antonio 7-2 in the first half. Before the Pistons could run away with the game, however, Tim Duncan came alive to bring the Spurs within seven at the half. And while Rasheed had already played his best basketball of the night, Duncan was only getting started. Along with help from Tony Parker, Duncan fought back against the Pistons' defense to take the lead going into the fourth quarter. From there, it was simply a matter of shutting down a suddenly hot Tayshaun Prince before he could upset the Spurs' hopes for a game one win.

Final Score: Detroit - 65, San Antonio - 70
Player of the Game: Tim Duncan - 23 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks
Series: San Antonio - 1, Detroit - 0

Game One at a Glance

Detroit San Antonio
65 Points 70
17 Rebounds 32
6 Assists 6
18 Blocks 8
4 Steals 6

Game Two
Manu Ginobli let his voice be heard and his elbows be felt in game two of the NBA Live 2005 finals by scoring 27 points and grabbing six rebounds in the Spurs' 78-67 win over the defending champion Detroit Pistons. Ginobli, who didn't play in game one, was a man on fire in the first half of play, draining eight points in the first quarter alone. At halftime, the Spurs were up 43-38, thanks in part to another strong performance from Tim Duncan, who had 17. Even though Detroit woke up a bit in the first part of the third quarter to shut down both Ginobli and Duncan, it simply couldn't find rhythm enough to hold off the Spurs' athleticism. Detroit had an especially difficult time with the dynamic play of Tony Parker, who came alive in the second half, at one point hitting four shots in a row. Veteran Bruce Bowen had a strong game as well, putting up 12 points, netting 7 rebounds, earning 1 assist, and garnering 1 block.

Final Score: Detroit - 67, San Antonio - 78
Player of the Game: Manu Ginobli - 27 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks
Series: San Antonio - 2, Detroit - 0

Tim Duncan straight up owned the Pistons in the NBA Live 2005 finals series.
Game Two at a Glance
Detroit San Antonio
67 Points 78
25 Rebounds 32
2 Assists 4
21 Blocks 19
10 Steals 10

Game Three
As if sensing the finals slipping away from them, the Detroit Pistons came out hard in game three thanks to some powerful play from Rasheed Wallace. Detroit led going into the second quarter 18-16, the first time all series the team had led at the end of a quarter. The sense of accomplishment didn't last for long, however, because despite Detroit's best defensive efforts, San Antonio managed to tie the game at 32 going into the half on a last-second shot from Manu Ginobli. The back-and-forth third quarter saw both teams put on the clamps defensively, as both managed only 18 points, which kept the game tied at 50 heading into the fourth quarter. Alas, Detroit's best defensive efforts were hampered by an anemic offense that, at one point in the fourth quarter, saw eight straight missed shots. The Pistons wouldn't deny San Antonio's third straight win in the series, as Tim Duncan came alive in the fourth quarter to give his team the 70-60 win. With the possibility of being swept in the series, Detroit went into game four hoping that its home court would help the team stay alive in the series.

Final Score: San Antonio - 70, Detroit - 60
Player of the Game: Tim Duncan - 26 points, 16 rebounds, 10 blocks
Series: San Antonio - 3, Detroit - 0

Game Three at a Glance

San Antonio Detroit
70 Points 60
41 Rebounds 32
5 Assists 4
19 Blocks 21
9 Steals 8

Game Four
Detroit knew it was backed into a corner, and the team played like it during the opening quarter of game four. Keeping the ball spread around in the early going, the Pistons took an early 16-14 lead going into the second quarter, and they were determined to keep the pressure up into halftime. San Antonio battled back in the second quarter based on strong play from (once again) Tim Duncan, which foiled Detroit's halftime plans and gave the Spurs the lead at 28-24. The duo of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli came alive in the third, combining for 13 points to put the Spurs up by 13 heading into the final quarter. With everything on the line, the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace took the team on his shoulders, opening up with six quick points to bring Detroit to within nine. However, San Antonio still kept up the offensive pressure thanks to an outstanding 11 points from Tony Parker in the fourth quarter. At one point, the Spurs were up by as many as 13, but some clutch shooting from the likes of Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton kept the game within reach. As time ran out, the Pistons came within two points of sending the game into overtime after Hamilton hit an open three. Unfortunately for Pistons fans everywhere, Tony Parker hit both his free throws after an intentional foul. So with fewer than two seconds to go, Parker put the game out of Detroit's reach for good.

Final Score: San Antonio - 68, Detroit - 64
Player of the Game: Tim Duncan - 18 points, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks
Series: San Antonio wins 4-0

Ginobli led with those sharp elbows and knees on his way to MVP honors in game two.
Game Four at a Glance
San Antonio Detroit
68 Points 64
28 Rebounds 9
4 Assists 5
21 Blocks 19
5 Steals 10

ESPN NBA 2K5
Detroit Pistons versus San Antonio Spurs

Game One
The first game in the ESPN NBA 2K5 finals began much like game four in the NBA Live finals--with a strong performance from Detroit. The Pistons came out like a lion in the first half, thanks to some dominating play from both Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Unfortunately for the Pistons, just like that fateful game four, the Spurs battled back in the second quarter, capitalizing on a 13-4 run to go up 41-29 heading into halftime. San Antonio kept up the pressure in the third, extending the lead to 12, despite an eight-point, six-rebound performance from Pistons' big man, Ben Wallace. The pain would only increase for Pistons fans, however, as the Spurs widened the gap and went on to take the first game in the series 77-61.

Bruce Bowen drained seven out of nine free throws in game two. Who knew?!

Final Score: Detroit - 61, San Antonio - 77
Player of the Game: Tim Duncan - 21 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists
Series: San Antonio - 1, Detroit - 0

Game One at a Glance

Detroit San Antonio
61 Points 77
33 Rebounds 47
20 Assists 17
8 Blocks 5
6 Steals 2

Game Two
San Antonio continued to tighten the screws on Detroit's vaunted defense in game two of the NBA 2K5 series. In fact, San Antonio played some tough defense of its own in the first half, as the Pistons didn't score their 10th point until eight minutes into the first quarter, which partially contributed to the 18-4 San Antonio run that gave the Spurs the early lead. Approaching halftime, the score was 50-26, and San Antonio was already giving its starters some much-needed bench time. Sharpshooter Brent Barry, who ended up with 34 points in the game, added a few three-pointers to his stats off the bench, and the Spurs looked good heading into the second half. Manu Ginobli's last-second, full-court shot, which nearly found twine, added some excitement to a third quarter that saw the Spurs' dominance continue. Opening the fourth quarter, the Pistons came out firing, cutting the lead down to three by upping their physical game and playing under the basket. As for a Pistons comeback, Frenchman (and Spurs guard) Tony Parker said, "Aucun, monsieur." Then he nailed free throws left and right to once again put his team up for good, as the Spurs took a 2-0 lead in the series.

Final Score: Detroit - 72, San Antonio - 82
Player of the Game: Bruce Bowen - 34 points, 13-8 FG, 7-9 3PT
Series: San Antonio - 2, Detroit - 0

Game Two at a Glance

Detroit San Antonio
72 Points 82
42 Rebounds 37
21 Assists 26
5 Blocks 5
5 Steals 6

Game Three
Detroit was back home at the Palace of Auburn Hills for game three, and it was definitely ready to take advantage of the home-court hospitality. The Pistons took over early, going up 8-0 to start the game, and they didn't relinquish the lead in the first half thanks to the rebounding of Ben Wallace and strong bench play from the likes of Carlos Arroyo and Antonio McDyess. At halftime, up 38-34, the Pistons went into the locker room holding their first lead of the series while hoping to continue their overall dominance to close out the game. A critical foul on Bruce Bowen by Tayshaun Prince let the Spurs tie the game at 38 right away, however. But after the Spurs took the lead back from Detroit, Richard Hamilton put his team on his shoulders--to keep the Pistons in the game--as it headed into the final quarter. Hamilton and company were able to hold off the Spurs, and earn their first win of the series.

Even Rip Hamilton's freaky face mask couldn't help him against an overpowering Spurs team.

Final Score: San Antonio - 65, Detroit - 78
Player of the Game: Richard Hamilton - 29 points, 10 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 steals
Series: San Antonio - 2, Detroit - 1

Game Three at a Glance

San Antonio Detroit
65 Points 78
39 Rebounds 42
18 Assists 20
5 Blocks 6
3 Steals 7

Game Four
Game four opened up exactly like game three, with an 8-0 starting run by Detroit. The Pistons, running on momentum from their previous win, kept up the pressure to go up 24-12 at the end of the first quarter. Strong play off the San Antonio bench--especially from Brent Barry--kept the Spurs in the game heading into the second half. The seesaw battle continued in the third quarter, as Richard Hamilton and Tony Parker played shot-for-shot for a while, with no clear advantage going to either team. It wasn't until the final quarter that Detroit really took over and put San Antonio to pasture due to a 24-point game from Rasheed Wallace (14 of which came in the second half of the game). Detroit was fired up heading back to San Antonio in what would now at least be a best of six series.

Final Score: San Antonio - 79, Detroit - 89
Player of the Game: Rasheed Wallace - 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Series: San Antonio - 2, Detroit - 2

Game Four at a Glance

San Antonio Detroit
79 Points 89
31 Rebounds 42
27 Assists 20
12 Blocks 6
7 Steals 5

Game Five
Ben Wallace had his 'fro in full effect as the Pistons went for three in a row at home in game five. The Spurs opened up early, finding a rejuvenated offense that had been missing during the previous pair of games. Tim Duncan, basically invisible in games two and three, was a potent force under the basket, grabbing 10 rebounds in the first half alone. Just when it seemed like the Spurs would run away with the game in the first half, however, the Pistons went on an 8-2 run just before halftime, which kept things close. Manu Ginobli led the Spurs in the early going with 17 points, but he was countered by outstanding performances from Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton. Brent Barry put San Antonio up by five with a three-pointer in the late going, and with under two minutes left in the game, stingy ballhandling from the Spurs--and a critical steal by Ginobli--put the Spurs up for good. Just one win away from another NBA championship, the Spurs headed back to the friendly confines of SBC Center.

Final Score: San Antonio - 78, Detroit - 73
Player of the Game: Manu Ginobli - 20 points, 9-15 FG
Series: San Antonio - 3, Detroit - 2

Game Five at a Glance

San Antonio Detroit
78 Points 73
36 Rebounds 39
20 Assists 16
4 Blocks 7
7 Steals 3

Game Six
Sensing blood in the water, the Spurs came out strong in the first part of the game, spreading the ball among all five starters. Tim Duncan had another impressive game from the outset, with 12 points and four rebounds in the first half, as the Spurs took a 40-34 lead heading into the third quarter. Thanks to a convincing performance from Manu Ginobli, the Spurs' winning ways continued in the third...but the Pistons' Richard Hamilton managed an astounding 12 points to keep Detroit in the game. Turnovers would mean the end of the Pistons' championship hopes, however, as the Spurs managed to steal the ball 10 times in the game, an advantage that proved to be too much for Detroit. More strong play from Tim Duncan gave the all-star forward yet another "player of the game" honor and, for the Spurs, yet another championship.

Final Score: San Antonio - 81, Detroit - 76
Player of the Game: Tim Duncan - 28 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
Series: San Antonio wins 4-2

Game Six at a Glance

Detroit San Antonio
76 Points 81
41 Rebounds 40
19 Assists 24
2 Blocks 6
5 Steals 10

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