Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images
The NBA playoffs tip off Saturday with an exciting first round that features a few fantastic matchups, including the scorching-hot Utah Jazz (29-6 in their last 35 games) facing triple-double king Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
We’ll also see if Anthony Davis can continue his fantastic three-month stretch (since January 12, The Brow has posted 30.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks, per Basketball Reference) when he goes up against Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers.
It should be a fun first round, but until then, here’s a look at some pertinent television and live-stream information for this postseason.
Known Round-by-Round Start Dates
First Round: Saturday, April 14
Conference Semifinals: Monday, April 30 or Tuesday, May 1 (possible move up to Saturday, April 28 or Sunday, April 29)
Conference Finals: Tuesday, May 15 or Wednesday, May 16 (possible move up to Sunday, May 13 or Monday, May 14)
NBA Finals: Thursday, May 31
The conference semifinals and finals may move up in the event of a previous round ending early. For example, if the first round ends with no series going over five games, we’ll likely see the conference semifinals start a day or two earlier to cut into an unnecessary longer gap between rounds.
However, it is possible that we see one round start before the previous one officially finishes. That occurred last year, as the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards kicked off Game 1 of their second-round series on Sunday, April 30, at 1 p.m. prior to the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers finishing their first-round matchup later that afternoon.
Here’s a look at what we know so far about the first-round NBA schedule, per Rachel Nichols of ESPN:
Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols
Okay, the NBA’s First Round playoff schedule is IN. Here it is in both day-by-day, and series-by-series formats. Pick your poison: https://t.co/J2GQWOE15P
Note that all NBA playoff rounds are best-of-seven series, so it is conceivable that a series can end after four games. As such, the schedule for the hypothetical Games 5 through 7 in the first round are incomplete at this time. If those games come to fruition, look for schedule updates as they draw closer.
NBA Finals Schedule (All Games on ABC)
Thursday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET: Game 1
Sunday, June 3 at 8 p.m. ET: Game 2
Wednesday, June 6 at 9 p.m. ET: Game 3
Friday, June 8 at 9 p.m. ET: Game 4
Monday, June 11 at 9 p.m. ET: Game 5
Thursday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET: Game 6
Sunday, June 17 at 8 p.m. ET: Game 7
The NBA Finals schedule is set in stone, and it’s here via Sports Media Watch. The start date won’t be moved even if the conference finals series end in four or five games.
If you’re wondering why it may take 18 days to complete one seven-game series, it’s based off a few factors. First, the NBA Finals follows a 2-2-1-1-1 format for home games, meaning the team with the better record will host Games 1 and 2 (and Games 5 and 7 if necessary).
The NBA gives teams an additional travel day when moving between cities, which is why you see a few three-day gaps (e.g. between Games 2 and 3).
The only three-day gaps not explainable by travel are the ones between Games 1 and 2 and then Games 6 and 7. Obviously, Sunday is a much better day for television ratings than Saturday, where more people are out doing other things as opposed to being home the night before a work week begins. Hence, the NBA puts Game 2 on a Sunday.
TV and Live-Stream Coverage: NBA Playoffs (Second Round Through NBA Finals)
TNT, ESPN and ABC will combine to televise all second-round games, per Sports Media Watch. ESPN will broadcast the Eastern Conference Final (they’ll also broadcast the NBA draft lottery before Game 1), while TNT will do the same for the West. ABC will be the TV home for the NBA Finals.