Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press
We’re officially sitting on the doorstep of the 2016-17 NBA conference finals, folks. After months and months of basketball action, we’re almost down to our final four teams.
On Monday, the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards will face off in Game 7, with the winner advancing to battle the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs will actually kick off the Western Conference Finals Sunday, so it’s safe to say the big series before the really big one are officially here.
We’re here to break down the conference finals schedule, along with television and live-stream information. Just keep in mind that the opponent and the location of the Cavaliers’ games are still up in the air. If the No. 1 seed Celtics advance, they’ll have home-court advantage. If the Wizards move on, Cleveland will have home-court.
We’ll also examine some of the latest playoff-related storylines heading into the conference finals.
Conference Finals Schedule
|Matchup||Game||Time (ET)||National TV||Live Stream|
|Sunday, May 14|
|San Antonio at Golden State||1||3:30 p.m.||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Tuesday, May 16|
|San Antonio at Golden State||2||9 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Wednesday, May 17|
|Cleveland vs. TBD||1||8:30 p.m.||TNT||TNTOvertime|
|Friday, May 19|
|Cleveland vs. TBD||2||( p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Saturday, May 20|
|Golden State at San Antonio||3||9 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, May 21|
|Cleveland vs. TBD||3||8:30 p.m.||TNT||TNTOvertime|
|Monday, May 22|
|Golden State at San Antonio||4||9 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Tuesday, May 24|
|Cleveland vs. TBD||4||8:30 p.m.||TNT||TNTOvertime|
|Wednesday, May 24|
|San Antonio at Golden State||5*||9 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thursday, May 25|
|Cleveland vs TBD||5*||8:30 p.m.||TNT||TNTOvertime|
|Friday, May 26|
|Golden State at San Antonio||6*||9 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Saturday, May 27|
|Cleveland vs. TBD||6*||8:30 p.m.||TNT||TNTOvertime|
|Sunday, May 28|
|San Antonio at Golden State||7*||9 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Monday, May 29|
|Cleveland vs. TBD||7*||8:30 p.m.||TNT||TNTOvertime|
|NBA.com; *If necessary|
John Wall is Clutch
The Celtics and the Wizards have yet to decide their semifinal series largely because of John Wall’s late-game three-pointer with mere seconds on the clock. That shot gave the Wizards a one-point lead and eventually a 92-91 victory.
John Wall put the Wizards on his back last night. (▶️ @Gatorade) https://t.co/9mENdmPlz2
Wall had some choice words for the Celtics—who went with all-black uniforms—after the game.
“Don’t come to my city, wearing all black, talking about a funeral,” Wall told ESPN.
Obviously, Wall’s epic shot kept Washington alive for at least one more game. It’s as clutch a shot as we’ve seen in this postseason so far. Wall has grown into a true leader and a legitimate star over the past seven seasons. He’s also become an increasingly popular player, despite what some pundits might think.
“I’m not sure he’s as popular as Tony Kornheiser,” Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports 1 said of Wall about the TV and radio personality and former Washington-based sports writer, per Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post.
Judging from all the media attention Wall’s Game 6 winner has received, it seems he’s popular enough.
JWall you are an absolute stud! Talk about Clutch..Wow!🏀 On to the next #DCfamily “I ain’t going home” -@JohnWall
He’s also incredibly clutch.
Could the Western Conference Finals Be Good Again?
Aside from the Celtics-Wizards series, this year’s edition of the postseason has been lacking in exciting moments. The same cannot be said for last year, when the Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder went seven games a series before the seven-game Finals.
On paper, Golden State seems like a team that should blow through the conference finals en route to another potential matchup with the Cavaliers. However, the Spurs might actually present an interesting challenge.
Consider the fact the Warriors had the league’s most potent offense (115.9 points per game) in the regular season, while the Spurs had the NBA’s second-best defense (98.1 points per game allowed). The Warriors have a pretty good defense of their own, but you can never count out the team-oriented offense of a Gregg Popovich-coached team.
One thing the Spurs have been during Pop’s tenure is consistent.
“The thing they do year in and year out is stay consistent,” Warriors assistant Ron Adams said, per Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com. “This team, in particular, seems to perform well in the margins of the game, the hustle parts of the game. Over the course of time, they’ve always been so good in those areas. That’s what makes them who they are.”
While it seems unlikely this series will go seven games—our friends at OddsShark.com have Golden State as 2-13 favorites on Sunday—this could still prove to be an intriguing series. It could also prove to be a longer one than the Warriors have experienced since last year’s finals.
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Whichever team ends up meeting Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals is going to have its hands full. Fatigue could quickly be a factor, as there will only be one day of rest between the end of the semifinal round and the start of the conference finals.
Cleveland, on the other hand, has been resting and waiting since last weekend.
If the Spurs manage to push the Warriors to six or seven games, Cleveland’s rest could prove to be a mismatch too. Two consecutive seven-game series likely had a hand in the Warriors’ meltdown in the Finals last year. Could the same thing happen this year? It’s certainly possibly.
Of course, this is assuming the Cavaliers and the Warriors are the teams meeting in the final series of the season. As likely as the three-peat seems, there’s no guarantee it actually happens.
You know it’s there, but we’ve got four more games to win before we can reach an NBA Finals. … We’ve got to stay locked in and focused on the now,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said, per Tom Withers of the Chicago Tribune. “If that happens, it happens. I know we’ve got to take care of our business and I’m sure they think the same way.”
The Cavaliers and Warriors are both rested and waiting, which is bad news for their upcoming opponents. Whichever team has the shorter series next could have the advantage in the finale.