NBA Playoff Schedule 2016: Dates, TV Info for Conference Finals Matchups

Thomas Duffy@@TJDhoopsFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2016

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 3: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball during the game against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors on March 3, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

After two rounds of relatively disappointing postseason play, the Conference Finals are upon us.

Stephen Curry’s first-round knee injury put a damper on things, but the two-time reigning MVP is back. If you’re unsure, just ask the Portland Trail Blazers.

The 8-0 Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t been challenged yet. Will the Miami Heat or Toronto Raptors make them sweat…at all?

The battles continue on Monday, following the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.

While the outcome of Raptors-Heat matters to Cleveland, it won’t affect the schedule. Take a look:

 

Western Conference Finals

Warriors (1) vs. Thunder (3)
GameDateLocationTimeChannel
1Monday, May 16Oracle Arena (Warriors)9 p.m. ETTNT
2Wednesday, May 18Oracle Arena (Warriors)9 p.m. ETTNT
3Sunday, May 22Chesapeake Energy Arena (OKC)9 p.m. ETTNT
4Tuesday, May 24Chesapeake Energy Arena (OKC)9 p.m. ETTNT
5*Thursday, May 26Oracle Arena (Warriors)TBDTNT
6*Saturday, May 28Chesapeake Energy Arena (OKC)TBDTNT
7*Monday, May 30Oracle Arena (Warriors)TBDTNT
NBA

The Western Conference Finals can be streamed through TNT here.

 

Eastern Conference Finals

Cavaliers (1) vs. Raptors (2)/Heat (3)
GameDateLocationTimeChannel
1Tuesday, May 17Quicken Loans Arena (Cavs)8:30 p.m. ETESPN
2Thursday, May 19Quicken Loans Arena (Cavs)8:30 p.m. ETESPN
3Saturday, May 21Air Canada Centre (Raptors)/American Airlines Arena (Heat)8:30 p.m. ETESPN
4Monday, May 23Air Canada Centre (Raptors)/American Airlines Arena (Heat)8:30 p.m. ETESPN
5*Wednesday, May 25Quicken Loans Arena (Cavs)TBDESPN
6*Friday, May 27Air Canada Centre (Raptors)/American Airlines Arena (Heat)TBDESPN
7*Sunday, May 29Quicken Loans Arena (Cavs)TBDESPN
NBA

The Eastern Conference Finals can be streamed through ESPN here.

 

Underrated Players to Watch

West: Andrew Bogut

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 1: Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2016 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland,
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Everybody loves to talk about Golden State’s small lineups.

How about some love for the big fella?

Though Andrew Bogut doesn’t play a ton as a starter (just 17.7 minutes this postseason), the former No. 1 overall pick in 2005 makes a difference for the Dubs, especially on defense. When Bogut’s on the floor, the Warriors allow an average of 13 fewer points.

He’s a load in the paint and also blocked the fourth-most shots in the regular season per 48 minutes, via ESPN.

Bogut could be especially valuable this series given the Oklahoma City Thunder’s front line of big men. Steven Adams, in particular, could become a headache.

Bogut and Adams are two of the league's dirtier more physical players, so it’s only a matter of time before tempers flare.

Despite hailing from New Zealand, though, the third-year 7-footer won’t talk trash to Golden State’s Australian center, per Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript:

Bogut is dealing with a “right adductor strain” and missed his second consecutive practice on Saturday, per Jimmy Durkin of the Mercury News.

As noted by Monte Poole of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, he should be OK:

The Warriors seem to be acting with caution, which is wise. They will need their stars healthy, of course, but having Bogut could help combat one of OKC’s biggest strengths on the inside.

 

East: Channing Frye

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 06:  Channing Frye #9 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after hitting a three-point basket against the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 6, 2016 in Atlan
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Whether the Cavaliers face the Heat or the Raptors—does it really matter?—they will look to remain one of the league’s hottest teams from the perimeter.

Entering the Conference Finals, Cleveland (16.8) is averaging 4.6 more three-pointers per game than the Warriors (12.2).

Impressive, eh?

That’s not all. The Cavaliers are also shooting 36.3 percent from distance, which towers over Golden State’s mark of 30 percent.

Granted, the reigning champs haven’t had Mr. 402 for six games, but those are still jaw-dropping numbers from King James and his men.

Part of that surge can be attributed to veteran forward Channing Frye, who averaged 13.8 points on 64.5 percent shooting from the field and 57.9 percent from deep in a second-round sweep over the Atlanta Hawks. In Game 3, Frye connected on 7-of-9 from three for a game-high 27 points.

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer talked about Cleveland’s trade-deadline acquisition on Friday:

The Cavs knew his real value would be in the playoffs. Coach Tyronn Lue played Frye only 29 minutes in the first round. But in the second round, Frye's time came. He scored 55 points in 77 minutes in the sweep of the Hawks. He was 20-of-31 from the field (11-of-19 on 3-pointers).

Frye saw 19.3 minutes against Atlanta, and he could see more if A) the Heat go small or B) the Raptors try to go small in the absence of big man Jonas Valanciunas.

James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love get most of the press, but it’s unheralded players like Frye who could push Cleveland over the top.