Wednesday, May 22, 2024

2024 NBA playoffs: First-round schedule, times, TV info, key stats, who to watch

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The Oklahoma City Thunder were 40-42 last season and didn’t make the playoffs. This season, they were 57-25 and earned the top seed in the Western Conference.

In 2022-23, the Minnesota Timberwolves were 42-40, and this season, they finished 56-26, the No. 3 seed in the West.

The Orlando Magic had just 34 victories last season and posted a 47-35 mark this season, good for the No. 5 seed.

While it’s a changing NBA in some ways, some things are familiar. The Boston Celtics went from 57-25 to 64-18 (top seed in the East), and the defending champion Denver Nuggets had four more wins this season, finishing 57-25 (second seed in the West).

Will one of the upstarts get to the NBA Finals or will the two teams (Celtics, Nuggets) many expect to get there meet for the title?

Here are NBA series matchups and schedules for the first round of the playoffs:

Eastern Conference first-round series, schedules

No. 1 Boston vs. No. 8 to be determined

  • Game 1, Sunday: at Boston, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Game 2, April 24: at Boston, 7 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 3, April 27: at No. 8, 6 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 4, April 29: at No. 8, time and TV TBD
  • Game 5, May 1: at Boston, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 3: at No. 8, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 5: at Boston, time and TV TBD

Key stats: The Celtics finished first offensively (122.2 points per 100 possessions) and No. 2 defensively (110.6 points per 100 possessions).

Who to watch: The Celtics have the best starting five: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick White and Jrue Holiday.

No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 7 Philadelphia or Miami

  • Game 1, Saturday: at New York, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 2, Monday: at New York, 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 3, April 25: at No. 7, 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 4, April 28: at No. 7, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Game 5, April 30: at New York, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 2: at No. 7, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 4: at New York, time TBD, TNT

Season series: Knicks won 3-1 vs. Sixers; Knicks won 2-1 vs. Heat

Key stats: Four teams finished in the top 10 offensively and defensively, and the Knicks were one of them.

Who to watch: Jalen Brunson’s ability to carry the Knicks without Julius Randle.

No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Indiana Pacers

  • Game 1, Sunday: Indiana at Milwaukee, 7 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 2, Tuesday: Indiana at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV
  • Game 3, April 26: Milwaukee at Indiana, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 4, April 28: Milwaukee at Indiana, 7 p.. ET, TNT
  • Game 5, April 30: Indiana at Milwaukee, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 2: Milwaukee at Indiana, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 4: Indiana at Milwaukee, time TBD, TNT

Season series: Pacers won 4-1

Key stats: Get ready for scoring. The Pacers had the No. 2 offense (120.5 points per 100 possessions), the Bucks are No. 6 (117.6 points per 100 possessions) and neither ranked in the top 15 defensively.

Who to watch: The health of Bucks stars Giannis Antetokounmpo (missed final three regular-season games with a strained left calf), and Damian Lillard (sore adductor muscle) and the Tyrese Haliburton-Pascal Siakam playoff debut for the Pacers.

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Orlando Magic

  • Game 1, Saturday: Orlando at Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 2, Monday: Orlando at Cleveland, 7 p.m. ET, NBA TV
  • Game 3, April 25: Cleveland at Orlando, 7 p.m. ET, NBA TV
  • Game 4, April 27: Cleveland at Orlando, 1 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 5, April 30: Orlando at Cleveland, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 3: Cleveland at Orlando, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 5: Orlando at Cleveland, time and TV TBD

Season series: Tied 2-2

Key stats: The Magic’s No. 3 defense (110.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) vs. the Cavaliers’ No. 7 defense (112.1 points allowed per 100 possessions).

Who to watch: Second-year All-Star Paolo Banchero and third-year forward Franz Wagner are appearing in their first playoff series, and the Cavaliers feature Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley – a formidable inside-outside foursome.

Western Conference first-round series, schedules

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 8 New Orleans or Sacramento

  • Game 1, Sunday: at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 2, April 24 : at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 3, April 27: at No. 8, 3:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 4, April 29: at No. 8, time and TV TBD
  • Game 5, May 1: at Oklahoma City, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 3: at No. 8, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 5: at Oklahoma City, time and TV TBD

Key stats: The Thunder were one of two teams to finish the regular season with a top-four offensive and defensive ranking.

Who to watch: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams of the Thunder are the present and the future.

No. 2 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers

  • Game 1, Saturday: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Game 2, Monday: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver, 10 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 3, April 25: Denver at Los Angeles Lakers, 10 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 4, April 27: Denver at Los Angeles Lakers, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Game 5, April 29: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 2: Denver at Los Angeles Lakers, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 4: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver, time TBD, TNT

Season series: Nuggets won 3-0 Lakers; Nuggets won 2-1 Pelicans

Key stats: The Nuggets are No. 5 offensively (117.8 points per 100 possessions) and No. 8 defensive (112.3 points allowed per 100 possessions).

Who to watch: Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, a wizards with the basketball, may just end up winning his third MVP in four seasons, and LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back.

No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. No. 6 Phoenix Suns

  • Game 1, Saturday: Phoenix at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 2, Tuesday: Phoenix at Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 3, April 26: Minnesota at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 4, April 28: Minnesota at Phoenix, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 5, April 30: Phoenix at Minnesota, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 2: Minnesota at Phoenix, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 4: Phoenix at Minnesota, time TBD, TNT

Season series: Suns won 3-0

Key stats: It’s the Timberwolves’ top-ranked defense (108.4 points allowed per 100 possessions) against the Suns’ No. 10 offense (116.8 points per 100 possessions).

Who to watch: Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony form a Big 3 for the Timberwolves, and Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal do the same for the Suns.

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks

  • Game 1, Sunday: Dallas at Los Angeles Clippers, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Game 2, Tuesday: Dallas at Los Angeles Clippers, 10 p.m. ET, TNT
  • Game 3, April 26: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 4, April 28: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Game 5, May 1: Dallas at Los Angeles Clippers, time and TV TBD
  • Game 6, May 3: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas, time and TV TBD
  • Game 7, May 5: Dallas at Los Angeles Clippers, time and TV TBD

Season series: Clippers won 2-1

Key stats: Who likes offense? The Clippers are No. 4 (117.9 points per 100 possessions) and the Mavericks are No. 8 (117 points per 100 possessions).

Who to watch: The Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden present problems on both sides of the court; Dallas’ Luka Doncic keeps inching closer to an MVP.

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