NBA Playoffs 2019: TV Schedule and Predictions for Saturday's Round 1 Games

Jake RillCorrespondent IIApril 13, 2019

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, right, talks with guard Shaun Livingston during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

The NBA regular season is over. Now, the league's 16 best teams begin a quest to make it through the playoffs and end the campaign by celebrating with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

On Saturday, the postseason begins with four first-round matchups. The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors will be in action, as will the No. 2 seed from each conference—the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets.

In June, one of the 16 playoff teams will win this year's championship. But there is still a lot of basketball to be played before that point.

      

Saturday NBA Playoffs Schedule (All Times ET)

Game 1: Brooklyn at Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 1: Orlando at Toronto, 5 p.m., ESPN

Game 1: L.A. Clippers at Golden State, 8 p.m., ABC

Game 1: San Antonio at Denver, 10:30 p.m., ESPN

      

Saturday Predictions, Preview

Getting off to a good start in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series can set the tone for the remaining contests. On Saturday, four teams will do just that with a series-opening win. But which four teams?

Expect to see the four home teams emerge victorious to take a 1-0 lead in its series, as the Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets, who will all go on to win their series, start off on a strong note.

One thing the 76ers will have to potentially overcome is playing without center Joel Embiid, who is doubtful for Game 1 with left knee soreness. How likely is it that Embiid plays?

"I have no idea," Embiid told reporters Friday. "It's about the pain in my knee. I've just got to keep working through it, and see how I feel every day."

Even without Embiid, Philadelphia is talented enough to notch a Game 1 win at home over the Brooklyn Nets.

The Raptors are in the playoffs for the sixth straight season. However, over the past five years, they've only made it past the conference semifinals once—2016, when they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

This will be the first postseason that Toronto has Kawhi Leonard, who ranked sixth in the NBA with 26.6 points per game during the regular season.

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Although Leonard has an uncertain future with the Raptors, he should play a big part in helping them get deeper into the playoffs this year.

Looking to win the NBA championship for the third straight season, the Warriors, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, begin their title defense with a first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

One concern for Golden State fans earlier this week was Stephen Curry's ankle, as he sat out the regular-season finale against the Memphis Grizzlies. However, Curry is expected to be ready to go for Game 1, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau.

As long as Curry and the rest of the Warriors stay healthy, there's no reason they shouldn't be back in the NBA finals again this year.

In Saturday's final matchup, the Denver Nuggets will play their first playoff game since 2013. They made the postseason 10 consecutive years from 2004-2013, but they only made it past the first round once—2009, when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

If the Nuggets can play as well as they did during the regular season, when they won 54 games, then they should notch their first playoff series win since 2009.

"We don't know what it's going to be. But I think it's just a regular basketball game," Denver center Nikola Jokic said, according to the Denver Post's Mike Singer. "It's a basketball game so it cannot be something hugely different."  

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