Upsets are not common in the NBA postseason and with the Golden State Warriors firing off a new league-record 73 victories and the San Antonio Spurs right on their tails with 67 wins, the Western Conference appears headed for a massive showdown in the finals.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers are perched as the team to beat, except it’s very unclear who they will face for the conference’s spot in the NBA Finals. Oddsmakers favor the Cavs to duel with the Warriors in the finals for the second straight season, but the East appears highly unpredictable at the moment with the playoffs scheduled to begin Saturday.
Unlike recent years, the East has been far more competitive than the West this season. Look no further than the four squads who finished with a 48-34 record (Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte) and wound up holding down seeds No. 3 through No. 6. In the West, 41-41 Houston squeaked into the No. 8 seed on the final day of the regular season, while Dallas and Memphis each went 42-40 for the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds, respectively.
Let’s take a look at each conference and breakdown who will face who as the playoffs progress past the first round.
No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25) vs. No. 8 Detroit Pistons (44-38)
Game 1: Pistons at Cavaliers Sunday, April 17 Quicken Loans Arena 3:00 p.m. ET ABC
Game 2: Pistons at Cavaliers Wednesday, April 20 Quicken Loans Arena 8:00 p.m. ET TNT
Game 3: Cavaliers at Pistons Friday, April 22 Palace at Auburn Hills 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 4: Cavaliers at Pistons Sunday, April 24 Palace at Auburn Hills 8:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 5: Pistons at Cavaliers Tuesday, April 26 Quicken Loans Arena TBD TBD
Game 6: Cavaliers at Pistons Thursday, April 28 Palace at Auburn Hills TBD TBD
Game 7: Pistons at Cavaliers Saturday, April 30 Quicken Loans Arena TBD TBD
No. 2 Toronto Raptors (56-26) vs. No. 7 Indiana Pacers (45-37)
Game 1: Pacers at Raptors Saturday, April 16 Air Canada Centre 12:30 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 2: Pacers at Raptors Monday, April 18 Air Canada Centre 7:00 p.m. ET NBA TV
Game 3: Raptors at Pacers Thursday, April 21 Bankers Life Fieldhouse 7:30 p.m. ET NBA TV
Game 4: Raptors at Pacers Saturday, April 23 Bankers Life Fieldhouse 3:00 p.m. ET TNT
Game 5: Pacers at Raptors Tuesday, April 26 Air Canada Centre TBD TBD
Game 6: Raptors at Pacers Friday, April 29 Bankers Life Fieldhouse TBD TBD
Game 7: Pacers at Raptors Sunday, May 1 Air Canada Centre TBD TBD
No. 3 Miami Heat (48-34) vs. No. 6 Charlotte Hornets (48-34)
Game 1: Hornets at Heat Sunday, April 17 American Airlines Arena 5:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 2: Hornets at Heat Wednesday, April 20 American Airlines Arena 7:00 p.m. ET NBA TV
Game 3: Heat at Hornets Saturday, April 23 Time Warner Cable Arena 5:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 4: Heat at Hornets Monday, April 25 Time Warner Cable Arena TBD TBD
Game 5: Hornets at Heat Wednesday, April 27 American Airlines Arena TBD TBD
Game 6: Heat at Hornets Friday, April 29 Time Warner Cable Arena TBD TBD
Game 7: Hornets at Heat Sunday, May 1 American Airlines Arena TBD TBD
No. 4. Atlanta Hawks (48-34) vs. No. 5 Boston Celtics (48-34)
Game 1: Celtics at Hawks Saturday, April 16 Philips Arena 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 2: Celtics at Hawks Tuesday, April 19 Philips Arena 7:00 p.m. ET TNT
Game 3: Hawks at Celtics Friday, April 22 TD Garden 8:00 p.m. ET ESPN2
Game 4: Hawks at Celtics Sunday, April 24 TD Garden 6:00 p.m. ET TNT
Game 5: Celtics at Hawks Tuesday, April 26 Philips Arena TBD TBD
Game 6: Hawks at Celtics Thursday, April 28 TD Garden TBD TBD
Game 7: Celtics at Hawks Saturday, April 30 Philips Arena TBD TBD
The Pistons snapped their seven-year playoff drought, and normally a No. 1 seed quickly trumps the No. 8. But Detroit went 3-1 against the Cavs this season, including Wednesday’s 112-110 overtime victory. Though, Cleveland’s LeBron James sat out the matchup.
Should Cleveland advance, they would face either No. 4 Atlanta or No. 5 Boston. The Hawks had the edge in the regular season with a 3-1 mark over the Celtics.
Meanwhile, No. 2 Toronto stares down No. 7 Indiana and the winner of that series faces the victor between No. 3 Miami and No. 6 Charlotte.
No. 1 Golden State Warriors (73-9) vs. No. 8 Houston Rockets (41-41)
Game 1: Rockets at Warriors Saturday, April 16 Oracle Arena 3:30 p.m. ET ABC
Game 2: Rockets at Warriors Monday, April 18 Oracle Arena 10:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 3: Warriors at Rockets Thursday, April 21 Toyota Center 9:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 4: Warriors at Rockets Saturday, April 24 Toyota Center 3:30 p.m. ET ABC
Game 5: Rockets at Warriors Wednesday, April 27 Oracle Arena TBD TBD
Game 6: Warriors at Rockets Friday, April 29 Toyota Center TBD TBD
Game 7: Rockets at Warriors Sunday, May 1 Oracle Arena TBD TBD
No. 2 San Antonio Spurs (67-15) vs. No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies (42-40)
Game 1: Grizzlies at Spurs Sunday, April 17 AT&T Center 8:00 p.m. ET TNT
Game 2: Grizzlies at Spurs Tuesday, April 19 AT&T Center 9:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 3: Spurs at Grizzlies Friday, April 22 FedEx Forum 9:30 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 4: Spurs at Grizzlies Sunday, April 24 FedEx Forum 1:00 p.m. ET ABC
Game 5: Grizzlies at Spurs Tuesday, April 26 AT&T Center TBD TBD
Game 6: Spurs at Grizzlies Thursday, April 28 FedEx Forum TBD TBD
Game 7: Grizzlies at Spurs Saturday, April 30 AT&T Center TBD TBD
No. 3 Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27) vs. No. 6 Dallas Mavericks (42-40)
Game 1: Mavericks at Thunder Saturday, April 16 Chesapeake Energy Arena 9:30 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 2: Mavericks at Thunder Monday, April 18 Chesapeake Energy Arena 8:00 p.m. ET TNT
Game 3: Thunder at Mavericks Thursday, April 21 American Airlines Center 7:00 p.m. ET TNT
Game 4: Thunder at Mavericks Saturday, April 23 American Airlines Center 8:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 5: Mavericks at Thunder Monday, April 25 Chesapeake Energy Arena TBD TBD
Game 6: Thunder at Mavericks Thursday, April 28 American Airlines Center TBD TBD
Game 7: Mavericks at Thunder Saturday, April 30 Chesapeake Energy Arena TBD TBD
No. 4. Los Angeles Clippers (53-29) vs. No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers (44-38)
Game 1: Blazers at L.A. Clippers Sunday, April 17 Staples Center 10:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 2: Blazers at L.A. Clippers Wednesday, April 20 Staples Center 10:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 3: L.A. Clippers at Blazers Saturday, April 23 Moda Center 10:30 p.m. ET ESPN
Game 4: L.A. Clippers at Blazers Monday, April 25 Moda Center 10:30 p.m. ET TNT
Game 5: Blazers at L.A. Clippers Wednesday, April 27 Staples Center TBD
Game 6: L.A. Clippers at Blazers Friday, April 29 Moda Center TBD
Game 7: Blazers at L.A. Clippers Sunday, May 1 Staples Center TBD
The Rockets trudged back from a dreadful start, but all their efforts earned a rematch of last year’s conference finals with the explosive and seemingly unstoppable Warriors.
Golden State is heavily favored to win the title, but first it has to face either No. 4 Los Angeles or No. 5 Portland in the second round. The Clippers closed out the regular season on an 8-2 run, and they went 3-1 against the Trail Blazers this season.
The Spurs draw the heavily depleted Grizzlies, who won’t have point guard Mike Conley or center Marc Gasol and have lost five straight to San Antonio dating back to last season.
Assuming San Antonio moves on, it will face either No. 3 Oklahoma City or No. 6 Dallas. The Mavericks endured a 5-10 spell in March, but bounced back in the final month of the regular season with a 5-2 run to make the playoffs. Problem is the Thunder were a perfect 4-0 against Dallas this season and back in 2012 they swept the Mavericks in route to the championship round.