How to Play Sim Defense in NBA2K

After dealing with tons of users managing my C2K League and playing tons more, I’ve developed a pretty strong opinion on what is and is not considered cheese.

My Definition of Sim: Work first to play in a way that reduces what your opponent can complain about, next to play like real basketball and finally work to play basketball like your real team would.

Contrary to what most people might think, more cheese happens in NBA2K on defense than it does on offense. Probably the number one reason people quit league play was not because of things people did on offense but more because of tactics that were used against them on defense.

What I’ve found even more interesting is that guys that wouldn’t even consider cheesing you on offense, won’t think twice about doing it on defense. I remember one guy constantly complained about all of the things people did on offense as he sat in his 1-3-1 defense on every possession.

So what I’m going to do today, is lay out three things:

    1. What I think is cheese on defense
    1. My philosophy on how you should play defense
  1. Why you should consider playing defense the way I recommend

Let’s talk first about some of what I think is the most common cheese on defense.

    • Pressing full court all game No NBA team does this. And while I along with everyone else with a little bit of skill can navigate through it, it’s just annoying.
    • Attempting to take charges everywhere This tactic was so abused that it forced 2K to modify the game so people would just fall down in alot of situations so it would just be a no call.
    • Constantly spamming of the steal button Usually used in conjunction with pressing and charge taking is the constantly hitting the steal button with high rated stealers all of the time.
    • Excessive fouling Some guys just hack all of the time out of frustration.
    • Zone defense NBA teams don’t play zone very often. Sure some pull a zone out or use zone principles but while it is used in real life, there are five guys actually controlling the defenders. In NBA2K, the zone just breaks the offense and in my mind cheats most users. In past years, the 1-3-1 zone was the cheese zone of choice. Now, the most common zone employed is the 3-2 zone because it looks like man when you are coming down court. Defensive settings used in conjunction with zones is worse in my opinion. And using zones with the best man to man defensive teams in the league shouldn’t even be considered an option.
    • Heavy use of CPU double teams Far and away the most abused defensive control behind the steal button is the double team button. Certain teams trap alot on defense in real life but not ALL game long. They pick their spots.
    • Trapping all over the court It’s natural to trap in the corners but not in the middle of the court or on the sideline.
    • Abuse of the defensive settings The defensive settings have a place but usually they just allow users to play every one tight, or smother everyone – something not normally possible in real life. It just doesn’t make any sense to me that you can make your point of emphasis “protect paint” and then still play everyone tight. If you want to play everyone tight, the game should just make protect paint unavailable. I can see playing one guy tight and protecting paint. That makes more sense.
    • Use of different controller settings than your opponent Using always for contesting shots or maxing out your defensive and box out assist while your opponent works off harder settings of zero and manually contesting shots isn’t fair play. Both users should operate off the same controller settings.
  • Spending all of your time off ball on defense While I’m perfectly fine for someone to start playing the game playing off ball defense, most guys play off ball defense roaming while the using CPU double teams. Straight up off ball defense without the use of L1 where you are actually trying to guard your off ball defender or manually taking time to adjust a defender is fine in my mind.

OK. So those are some of the things I consider cheese that people do. Let’s talk about what I like to see people do on defense and why. I’m calling this sim defense not because it simulates a certain team but because it forces YOU to play the defense and just doesn’t allow you let the computer play defense for you.

    • Run a good offense A good offense getting good shots is the best defense. It drives how well your defense plays. It makes others have to play against all five of your guys on defense and also keeps guys in better position if they miss a well selected shot. A mostly CPU controlled defense hides flaws in your offense that you need to fix. A manually controlled defense kicks its intensity up when you are playing well on offense.
    • Use only man to man defense I think every user should only play man to man defense and never use zone.
    • Contain your defense within the three point area Many users are constantly outside of the three point area. I think that for the most part, all five of your guys should be in there. I’d play shooters a step outside of it, ok shooters on the line and poor shooters a step or more inside the line.
    • Your sole focus should be on staying in front of your defender You want to focus on one thing on defense and that’s staying on the invisible line between your man and the basket. That’s the single most important thing on defense. Second is contesting shots and third is blocking out.
    • Use only sticks on defense Lay off the buttons and only use sticks on defense. You’ll foul less and keep your opponent off the line.
    • I’m favor of manual defense I think that you should play on ball defense the majority of the time (85-90 percent of the time).
    • Set the POE’s to the strength of your lineup on the floor at the time Set POE’s to what your team is good at depending on who is on the floor or the identity of the team.
    • Leave defensive settings on auto Instead of adjusting the defensive settings leave them on auto and go off ball to manually bring help when needed or to play a shooter tight.
    • Never use CPU double teams If you want to double the ball, I think you should bring the player doubling manually. The CPU doubler will always double harder than you will, manually creating an animation that’s unwarranted giving the defense and unfair advantage.
    • Manually control hedging options In pick and roll situations, I think you should switch to the screener and elect on the spot whether you want to hedge or not and be able to do it manually not by setting.
  • Stopping your opponent one out of two times is all you need to worry about If you take this approach you’ll stop your opponent enough times to be in every game. Your opponent will stop himself the additional times you need.

I’ve talked about what I think is cheese and my basic defensive principles. Now I want to talk about why I feel the way I do.

    • You don’t need to do all that on defense to win It surprising that the basic defense I mapped out in section two above often creates more turnovers than someone working like crazy on defense and tweaking every last setting. Playing solid keeps you in nearly every game.
    • Not every team in the league plays lockdown defense In NBA2K, with the use of the settings, you can make every team play above their head and play the same as every other team.
    • It creates less complaints If you got to ask if what you are doing is cheesing, it probably is. If people feel cheesed what they are really saying is I felt cheated. When you get done with a game, you want people to feel they got outplayed, not cheated. People who feel cheated out of wins never play you again and you lose out on a good opportunity to build your group of guys to play.
    • It creates a better gaming experience Playing manual defense and not CPU defense creates a better opportunity for a users players to play like they are supposed to and not do whacked out stuff they do when a defense is cheesed up.
  • Playbooks can be used more effectively Defensive cheesing makes players have to freelance their way to wins instead of running offenses. Manual defense allow players to freelance AND run plays. Guys that can at least run an offense against you enjoy the game more.

Those are my ideas on defense. I know that for many of, you’ll have your arguments for and against many of these ideas. That’s OK.

I still play everybody regardless of playstyle and say feel free to play how you want. But if you want to know my opinion. Then there you have it.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and feel free to follow me on Twitter to get the latest on my C2K Pacers.


Coach2K is a fictional NBA2K player. C2K has been playing video basketball games since the Mattel handheld basketball game was released way back in 1980. You can contact Coach2K on Twitter by clicking here.

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