The NBA playoffs 2018 will kick off Saturday, April 14, with four series-opening games. The Warriors will take on the Spurs in the first game of the day (3 p.m., ABC) with Raptors-Wizards, 76ers-Heat and Trail Blazers-Pelicans filling up the Saturday schedule. The 2017-18 regular season was a sprint to the finish line, but we finally have the full NBA playoff bracket and first-round matchups in place.
NBA fans will be able to watch four more games on Sunday, including contests featuring the top-seeded Rockets as well as LeBron James and the Cavs. After the opening weekend, the playoff grind truly begins.
The first round of the NBA playoffs could last up to 15 days; potential Game 7s are scheduled as late as April 29. After the Timber wolves defeated the Nuggets on Wednesday night, we now know the final eight teams in the competitive Western Conference. The Eastern Conference playoff matchups are also locked in from top to bottom.
You can find the daily NBA playoff schedule with times and TV channels for every first-round game below.
When do the NBA Playoffs 2018 start
Playoff rosters must be set by Friday at 3 p.m. ET, and the first round of the NBA playoffs begin Saturday. The conference semifinals series are scheduled for April 30/May 1 but could be moved up to April 28/April 29.
The conference finals series are scheduled for May 15/May 16 but could be moved up to May 13/May 14.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for May 31 with a Game 7 on June 17 if necessary.
NBA playoff bracket
NBA playoffs TV schedule, game times, how to watch live
Here’s how to watch every first-round NBA playoff game live.
All times Eastern.
Saturday, April 14
3 p.m. – Spurs at Warriors – ABC
5:30 p.m. – Wizards at Raptors – ESPN
8 p.m. – Heat at Sixers – ESPN
10:30 p.m. – Pelicans at Blazers – ESPN
Sunday, April 15
1 p.m. – Bucks at Celtics – TNT
3:30 p.m. – Pacers at Cavs – ABC
6:30 p.m. – Jazz at Thunder – TNT
9 p.m. – Wolves at Rockets – TNT
Monday, April 16
8 p.m. – Heat at Sixers – TNT
10:30 p.m. – Spurs at Warriors – TNT
Tuesday, April 17
7 p.m. – Wizards at Raptors – NBA TV
8 p.m. – Bucks at Celtics – TNT
10:30 p.m. – Pelicans at Blazers – TNT
Wednesday, April 18
7 p.m. – Pacers at Cavs – TNT
9 p.m. – Jazz at Thunder – NBA TV
9:30 p.m. – Wolves at Rockets – TNT
Thursday, April 19
7 p.m. – Sixers at Heat – TNT
9 p.m. – Blazers at Pelicans – NBA TV
9:30 p.m. – Warriors at Spurs – TNT
Friday, April 20
7 p.m. – Cavs at Pacers – ESPN
8 p.m. – Raptors at Wizards – ESPN2
9:30 p.m. – Celtics at Bucks – ESPN
Saturday, April 21
2:30 p.m. – Sixers at Heat – TNT
5 p.m. – Blazers at Pelicans – TNT
7:30 p.m. – Rockets at Wolves – ESPN
10 p.m. – Thunder at Jazz – ESPN
Sunday, April 22
1 p.m. – Celtics at Bucks – ABC
3:30 p.m. – Warriors at Spurs – ABC
6 p.m. – Raptors at Wizards – TNT
8:30 p.m. – Cavs at Pacers – TNT
Monday, April 23
8 p.m. – Rockets at Wolves – TNT
10:30 p.m. – Thunder at Jazz – TNT
Tuesday, April 24
*TBD – Bucks at Celtics – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Heat at Sixers – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Spurs at Warriors – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Pelicans at Blazers – TNT/NBA TV
Wednesday, April 25
*TBD – Wizards at Raptors – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Pacers at Cavs – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Jazz at Thunder – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Wolves at Rockets – TNT/NBA TV
Thursday, April 26
*TBD – Sixers at Heat – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Celtics at Bucks – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Warriors at Spurs – TNT/NBA TV
*TBD – Blazers at Pelicans – TNT/NBA TV
Friday, April 27
*TBD – Cavs at Pacers – ESPN/ESPNEWS
*TBD – Raptors at Wizards – ESPN/ESPNEWS
*TBD – Rockets at Wolves – ESPN/ESPNEWS
*TBD – Thunder at Jazz – ESPN/ESPNEWS
Saturday, April 28
*TBD – Heat at Sixers – TNT
*TBD – Bucks at Celtics – TNT
*TBD – Pelicans at Blazers – TNT
*TBD – Spurs at Warriors – TNT
Sunday, April 29
*TBD – Pacers at Cavs – ABC/TNT
*TBD – Wizards at Raptors – ABC/TNT
*TBD – Wolves at Rockets – ABC/TNT
*TBD – Jazz at Thunder – ABC/TNT
Last year, the Cavaliers hobbled into the postseason with 51 wins and the worst defensive rating (111.0) of any playoff team besides the No. 8-seeded Portland Trail Blazers. They ended the 2017-18 campaign with 50 victories and the NBA’s second-worst defensive rating (112.6) ahead of the 21-61 Phoenix Suns.
Last year, Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue vowed to unveil new defensive schemes in the postseason. Per Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, he once again said the defense will look “totally different” during the team’s quest to get back to the Finals.
“We’ll probably do things we haven’t done all season when it comes to the playoffs, things we’ve been working on all year,” Lue said. “It’s the same thing we do every playoffs. So we’ll see what happens.”
The Cavs, however, still yielded 112.1 points per 100 possessions in last year’s 18 playoff games. Yet they steamrolled the Eastern Conference by tallying a 120.3 offensive rating and 116.2 points per game.
The circumstances of overcoming lethargic in-season slumps are familiar. The roster? Not so much. As Vardon noted, their defensive rating improved to No. 19 after reshaping their squad on Feb. 8’s trade deadline.
All three of their regular-season losses to their first opponent, the Indiana Pacers, occurred before acquiring Rodney Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Even though the Pacers netted a higher average point differential (+1.4) than the Cavaliers (+0.9), they are not a major threat to hand James the first opening-round defeat of his career.
Cleveland no longer has Kyrie Irving, but neither do the Boston Celtics. The star point guard will miss the entire postseason after undergoing knee surgery in March. While Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart have played well in his absence, their young nucleus does not have enough scoring firepower to make a title push without Irving and Gordon Hayward.
Let’s not dismiss the Toronto Raptors, who own the No. 1 seed after tallying a franchise-record 59 wins. They trailed the Rockets for second in offensive rating (113.8) and average scoring margin (+7.8).
They would then likely need to attain vengeance over the Cavs, who have ended their past two postseasons. Although it’s likely of little consolation, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan each set a personal high in playoff field-goal percentage last year. For all their bench depth, the All-Star guards must carry over their regular-season success.
Cleveland, which swept Toronto by a combined 61 points in last year’s conference semifinals, won the teams’ head-to-head matchups on March 21 on April 3. James registered a combined 62 points and 27 assists.
Transcendent play from the superstar often conceals most blemishes. But not on April 6, when his 44 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists were not enough to overcome the Philadelphia 76ers. A 132-130 victory without Joel Embiid allowed them to enter the playoffs brandishing a 16-game winning streak.
While the All-Star center probably won’t be available Saturday, he could return in time for Philadelphia to proceed past the Miami Heat and face the hobbled Celtics. That could lead to the 33-year-old James defending his Eastern Conference stranglehold against a young club poised to one day assume the throne.
There are no long any easy outs, so the Cavaliers can’t take another Finals appearance for granted. Yet nobody should be surprised to see James fend off hungry young foes one more time.