All rounds are best-of-seven series; the team that has four wins advances to the next round. In fact, just one game separated them and third-place Portland Trailblazers, whose star, Damian Lillard, has been one of the best players in the league this year. The Warriors should at least make it back to the conference final, where chances are either the Rockets or OKC will be waiting.
This year, the playoff games have strong winds at their backs, as ESPN is reporting that National Basketball Association viewership for the 2017-18 regular season was up across all platforms as measured by Nielsen.
Start with the East pairings: Lowry and the top-seeded Raptors play No. 8 Washington, No. 2 Boston faces No. 7 Milwaukee, No. 3 Philadelphia gets No. 6 Miami and No. 4 Cleveland - with LeBron James bidding for an eighth consecutive appearance in The Finals - opening against No. 5 in, a surprise team at the start of the season and one that isn't a surprise anymore. They needed overtime to beat the Nuggets and get into the postseason. Still, Toronto - which was third in offensive rating and fifth in defensive rating this season - should be able to survive. Milwaukee has by far the best player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who can take control of the series.
No. 3 76ers vs.
Leonard never returned to that series, and played in only nine games for the Spurs this season. With coach Nate McMillan and All-Star guard Victor Oladipo leading the way, the Pacers were a wonderful surprise this season.
ROCKETS' TOUGH ROAD - Houston posted the league's best record (65-17), and it's hard to bet against a team that has James Harden.
Finally, in a matchup receiving little attention. The Rockets, meanwhile, lost key defender Luc Mbah a Moute to a dislocated shoulder on Tuesday, and he's expected to miss the first round-if not longer. The Golden State Warriors, last year's champions, will kick things off at 3 p.m. ET against the San Antonio Spurs. But if anyone is capable of creating a game plan to upset the ailing defending champions, it's San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.
Maybe we'll get a Cavaliers-Warriors final for the fourth year in a row. The Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers will play at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Davis went on a tear during the second half of this season, and it will be worth seeing if he can keep putting up video game numbers now that it's playoff time.
To give us a hand, we had a chat with our pals over at The Starters (Leigh Ellis, Trey Kerby, J.E. Skeets, and Tas Melas) the day after the season ended when they were fresh off their end-of-season awards show, The Starties, and primed for the playoffs (which they'll cover every weeknight on NBA TV). But the Jazz have to score too, and therein lies the most pressing question of their postseason: Can rookie guard Donovan Mitchell be the same star-caliber player on this stage?