Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
While Dynasty remains my favourite depth mode in NBA Live, I’ve very much enjoyed BIG Moments in NBA Live 14, and was definitely glad to hear that it will be returning in NBA Live 15. Back in March, I posted a countdown of my top five BIG Moments to that point, but plenty of new Moments have been added to the game since then, right through to the end of the 2014 NBA Finals.
So, with the 2014 season in the books, and the 2015 season almost upon us, I thought that I’d take a look back and rank my top five BIG Moments in NBA Live 14 from the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Last year’s postseason gave us quite a few memorable games and moments, and these are the ones that I personally found the most interesting, challenging, and enjoyable to re-play in NBA Live 14. Let the countdown begin!
5. “Off Pace”
We’re tipping things off with a BIG Moment from the first round series between the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers. After spending much of the year looking like a legitimate title contender, the Pacers fizzled late in the regular season, and continued to look disjointed throughout the Playoffs. Although they would ultimately make it through to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat for the second year in a row, Indiana came very close to bowing out early at the hands of the Hawks.
The Pacers played some very stingy defense during the course of the regular season, but the Hawks gave them a taste of their own medicine in the third quarter of Game 1. They would hold Indiana to just 16 points in the period, setting the stage for a series that very unexpectedly went to seven games. “Off Pace” requires you to replicate that defensive feat, a task that’s made a little easier by the fact that the accelerated clock setting is enabled for the challenge.
While it wasn’t the first defensive challenge thrown our way, a lot of the BIG Moments in NBA Live 14 did revolve around memorable offensive performances. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course; it’s fun to get buckets, put up big numbers, and knock down gamewinning shots. However, BIG Moments like this one were a nice change of pace, and tended to be a little tougher. I did complete it on my first attempt, but it was a close call, as a few careless moments allowed the Pacers to put up fifteen points. Hey, still counts!
4. “Clippers Come Alive”
The Los Angeles Clippers endured a huge off-court distraction during the 2014 Playoffs, and ultimately fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round, but they were still able to make a little noise before they went fishing. The “Clippers Come Alive” BIG Moment is an example of that, as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and company were able to overcome a fourteen point deficit with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 4, snatching victory away from Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Thunder.
Although I did have fun with the player locked BIG Moments, when it came to the lengthier challenges, I much preferred being able to control all five players on the team. I definitely appreciated having control over the entire team for this challenge, as it took a good all-around effort to pin down the Thunder and come storming back for the win. I must admit that I didn’t get the job done on my first try, but managed to pick up the win on my second attempt.
The challenge itself is fairly straightforward – basically, just play the final nine minutes and win – but I like that it forces you to make an effort at both ends of the court, and overcoming a double digit deficit to a quality team makes it a little tougher than some of the similar BIG Moments that were added during the course of the regular season. The Clippers are also a fun team to play with thanks to Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, so yeah, this one is definitely in my top five for the Playoffs.
3. “Kawhi In Control”
While Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are still rightfully recognised as the San Antonio Spurs’ Big Three, there’s no question that Kawhi Leonard’s stock is on the rise. The 2014 NBA Finals were something of a coming out party for Leonard; after missing a key free throw that might have secured the championship for the Spurs in 2013, he more than made up for it this past season with a performance that deservedly garnered Finals MVP honours.
I enjoyed playing through this one, as even though I’m not a Spurs fan, it’s been great to see the further emergence of Kawhi Leonard as a future star player. I also liked the specifics of the challenge: score 16 first quarter points, including three three-pointers. Previous BIG Moments have demanded that you make a certain number of three-pointers with a team or player (leading to launching threes every possession) or scoring a certain number of points with a single player (leading to a lot of ball-hogging and inside shots), but this was a good combination of the two challenges, and one that properly represented Leonard’s performance in Game 3.
Interestingly, despite being a full quarter of gameplay, the accelerated clock is not enabled for “Kawhi In Control”, nor is it a player locked challenge. I’m certainly not complaining, though. While the accelerated clock would make it a bit tougher, it plays out more organically in real time, and it’s definitely more fun without player lock. As I mentioned before, player lock doesn’t work as well for the lengthier BIG Moments, so it was good to see a few scoring-based challenges forego the use of it as the season wore on. Hopefully, we’ll get some more control over that in NBA Live 15.
2. “Advance At The Buzzer”
NBA Live 15 cover player Damian Lillard may not have made the cut for the USA’s 2014 FIBA World Cup team, but he did have one of the best plays of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. After Chandler Parsons seemingly gave the Houston Rockets the win in Game 6 with a layup that put them up 98-96 over the Portland Trail Blazers, the 2013 Rookie of the Year added to his rapidly growing list of gamewinning shots, getting off a three-pointer with 0.9 of a second left on the clock and finding nothing but net. As soon as it happened, you knew that it was going to be a BIG Moment in NBA Live 14.
Getting off a quick shot after an inbounds pass can be a little tough in NBA Live 14, so thankfully the clock was reset to one full second for the challenge…every little bit helps! Of course, jumpshots can be problematic in NBA Live 14 at the best of times – thankfully, NBA Live 15 is set to be much better in that regard – so this is a BIG Moment that might take a few attempts to complete. I lost count of how many times I attempted it, but let’s just say that it was more than two, but probably less than 20. I also had to do it twice, as unfortunately it didn’t register the first time I completed it. Fortunately, I got lucky and completed it again on the very next attempt.
I’m ranking this BIG Moment at number two for a couple of reasons. One, the challenge involved – specifically, getting everything right as far as receiving the pass in an animation where you have a chance at getting a shot off in time, subsequently beating the buzzer, and nailing the release window on a three-pointer – makes it very satisfying when you do complete it. Two, although several buzzer beaters from this past season could be replayed through BIG Moments, it was easily one of the most memorable, being a great shot that sent the Blazers to the second round for the first time since 2000. It’s a shot worth watching, and re-creating, over and over again.
1. “Defense Won The Championship”
It seems only fitting that the BIG Moment from the most important game of the season gets the top spot. I’ll admit that the significance of the game did play a role in my ranking, especially as I really enjoyed watching that game live, but it’s a suitable challenge to cap off the season: with the San Antonio Spurs, hold the Miami Heat to just 11 points in the second quarter of Game 6 of the 2014 NBA Finals. Basically the same challenge as “Off Pace”, yes, but the point total is lower, the opponent is tougher, and the setting of the game is far more significant.
Now, the first time I attempted this BIG Moment, I blew it with just a couple of minutes remaining…some classic video game frustration right there. A few defensive errors, including a double team that left LeBron James open for a three, saw the Heat make a late push to top 11 points and thus cause me to fail the challenge. When I tried it again though, I had a magical run that was reminiscent of the real life Spurs. I shut down the Heat at every turn, knocked down three after three at the other end, and ultimately held them to just six points in the quarter. Mission accomplished!
The accelerated clock setting is on for “Defense Won The Championship”, and as with “Off Pace”, this definitely helps as you’re able to run down the clock a bit when you have the ball. Nevertheless, last year’s Heat team was capable of putting up points in a hurry, and a couple of early mistakes will force you to buckle down to ensure that they don’t exceed 11 points. Again, it was a fine challenge to end the season on, and after a blown first attempt, I had a lot of fun completing it the second time around, especially with it playing out much like it did in real life. My only complaint? We weren’t able to replay Patty Mills’ epic third quarter performance.
That’s going to do it for this week. What were some of your favourite BIG Moments in NBA Live 14, from the regular season or Playoffs? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! Thanks for checking in this week, please join me again next Friday for another Five.