NBA Playoff Schedule 2014: TV Info and Predictions for Conference Finals

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMay 22, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IND - MAY 20: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against Paul George #24 of the Indiana Pacers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 20, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The 2014 NBA playoffs feature the highest four seeds in the conference finals. While that should have been expected from the top-heavy, weak Eastern Conference, even the best of the West in the regular season wound up right where they should have been based on the standings.

Although the Indiana Pacers played awful basketball for the last part of the 2013-14 campaign and struggled at the dawn of the postseason, they have been locked in enough to tie the two-time reigning champion Miami Heat at one game apiece. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are the past two opponents who have lost to the Heat in the NBA Finals, so both are on a path for vengeance.

Heading back to Oklahoma City, though, the No. 1-seeded Spurs have a massive 2-0 edge.

Here is a look at the remainder of the TV schedule for the conference finals, along with predictions as to how each series will play out, as four franchises pour in maximum effort in pursuit of the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

2014 NBA Playoffs Conference Finals TV Info
GameEastern Conference FinalsDateTime (ET)TV
1Indiana Pacers 107, Miami Heat 96Sunday, May 183:30 p.m.ABC
2Miami Heat 87, Indiana Pacers 83Tuesday, May 208:30 p.m.ESPN
3Indiana Pacers at Miami HeatSaturday, May 248:30 p.m.ESPN
4Indiana Pacers at Miami HeatMonday, May 268:30 p.m.ESPN
5*Miami Heat at Indiana PacersWednesday, May 288:30 p.m.ESPN
6*Indiana Pacers at Miami HeatFriday, May 308:30 p.m.ESPN
7*Miami Heat at Indiana PacersSunday, June 18:30 p.m.ESPN
GameWestern Conference FinalsDateTime (ET)TV
1San Antonio Spurs 122, Oklahoma City Thunder 105Monday, May 199 p.m.TNT
2San Antonio Spurs 112, Oklahoma City Thunder 77Wednesday, May 219 p.m.TNT
3San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City ThunderSunday, May 258:30 p.m.TNT
4San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City ThunderTuesday, May 279 p.m.TNT
5*Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio SpursThursday, May 299 p.m.TNT
6*San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City ThunderSaturday, May 318:30 p.m.TNT
7*Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio SpursMonday, June 29 p.m.TNT
Source: ESPN.com. *if necessary

 

Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat

After the Heat got torched in the opening game, coach Erik Spoelstra ensured that his team would bring more of a cohesive effort on defense in Game 2. The result was an 87-83 road victory, sending the series back to South Beach with a game in hand and home-court advantage.

Big-time players step up when they're needed. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade proved that in tying the series with their brilliance down the stretch. In addition to pitching in on defense, the dynamic duo had a hand in all the offense in a must-win situation for Miami, per ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh:

Interior passing was what crushed the Heat in Game 1, but they played tighter perimeter defense and made the Pacers work harder off the ball. As a result, Indiana once again lacked conviction in its half-court sets. Emotional leader David West devastated Miami with 19 points on 11 shots in the first game and then went 5-of-16 for just 10 points in the second contest.

It doesn't appear the Pacers have a go-to guy such as Wade or James when they really need a bucket. If it's anyone, it would be Paul George. But now they may not be able to turn to him, since the sensational two-way All-Star has been diagnosed with a concussion, per NBA.com.

Pacers.com's Scott Agness recorded George's scary personal testimony after he collided with Wade's knee:

If George is unable to go in Game 3 or is limited for these next two games—which is feasible, given his condition—it would take away Indiana's best defender on James. It would also nullify the size advantage the Pacers have managed to exploit in the past, though not on a consistent basis.

Not having George at 100 percent or close to it would be a shame moving forward. This untimely setback will likely be Indiana's undoing in the series. Between that and the Pacers' late-season funk that dragged into the playoffs, they can't be assured of more than one more win—and even that's being generous.

Prediction: Heat win in six games.

 

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 19:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs goes up for a shot against Nick Collison #4 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 1
Chris Covatta/Getty Images

A massive injury looms large in the Western Conference Finals, too, as Thunder paint enforcer Serge Ibaka has an ailing left calf that is going to keep him out for the rest of the playoffs.

He is an underrated offensive weapon as well, so that puts the onus even more on league MVP Kevin Durant and volatile point guard Russell Westbrook to shoulder the burden. Durant will get his points, but the Spurs have been able to turn him over a lot thanks to the on-ball defense of Kawhi Leonard, and Westbrook is just too up-and-down to routinely get the best of his elite counterpart in Tony Parker.

The Spurs have superior depth in all areas, save perhaps for the backup point guard matchup between OKC's Reggie Jackson and San Antonio's Patty Mills. Otherwise, there's little the Thunder can take solace in heading back to their home arena down 2-0.

ESPN Stats and Info's observation about the Spurs' prowess at the basket in Game 1 highlighted the glaring problem with Ibaka out of action:

Game 2 got even worse, as the Thunder had a loss of epic proportions, per Fox Sports Live:

Tim Duncan can operate with his back to the basket with ease, and Parker can penetrate the lane and find a litany of lethal outside shooters to pass to, dump it off for an easy hoop or finish it himself at the rim. In any conceivable scenario, San Antonio seems destined to dominate this series.

Factor that in with the fact that the Thunder knocked the Spurs off in the conference finals two years ago, and there's even more motivation for San Antonio to prove its worth. It's all about getting back to the NBA Finals, where Duncan and Co. hope to have one last run at the Association's top prize.

As impressive as the Thunder have been to fight to this point, they're too short-handed in terms of personnel and championship experience to pull off an improbable upset.

Prediction: Spurs win in five games.

 

San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat 

A Spurs vs. Heat rematch of last year's NBA Finals, which went seven games, would make for an easy—and exciting—set of storylines. The narrative that San Antonio plays a boring brand of basketball would have to be quashed by this point. The Spurs play as well as any squad in terms of fundamentals, discipline and an understanding of what it takes to win.

If coach Gregg Popovich were able to cap off another masterful job this season with another title, it could be the end of an era in San Antonio. Then again, that's been the thought for a number of years, so even if the Heat were to pull off an epic three-peat, it wouldn't be a shock to see this Spurs core go deep in the next postseason one last time.