On Saturday night the 2019 edition of the NBA Playoffs will get underway with the Brooklyn Nets hosting the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round opener.
As the post-season begins, Pundit Arena breaks down everything you need to know ahead of this year’s NBA playoffs.
What Teams Made The Playoffs?
The NBA playoffs consist of eight teams from the Eastern Conference and eight teams from the Western Conference to make 16 in total.
The number one seed from the West faces the number eight seed in the same conference, with the second seed facing the seventh seed and so on. The same occurs in the East.
The following teams are involved:
How Do The Fixtures Work?
Each round of the playoffs is played in a best of seven series format.
Series’ are played in a 2-2-1-1 format which means that the team with the home court advantage (whoever is seeded higher) hosts games 1,2,5 and 7 while the away side hosting 3,4 and 6.
When Do All The Games Take Place?
The first round of games begin tonight April 13th while the second round of the playoffs begin April 29, with a possible move-up to April 27-28 depending on whether game sevens are required.
The NBA conference finals begin May 14, with a possible move-up to May 12-13, again depending on how the series’ go.
The Finals begin on May 30th with game seven, if needed, being played June 16th.
Where Can I Watch In Ireland?
Sky Sports will have a selection of first-round fixtures live as well as games from the late rounds when they are announced. You can find the first round games here.
How Did The Regular Season Go?
The Milwaukee Bucks finished first in the East and ended the season with the best regular season record. The Toronto Raptors finished two games behind them while the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers comfortably finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.
The Brooklyn Nets surprised many by finishing sixth in the East while the Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons snuck into the last two spots.
In the West, the dominant Golden State Warriors finished top without really getting out of third gear while the Denver Nuggets, who didn’t even make last year’s playoffs, ended up second.
It was much tighter in the Western Conference with the Portland Trailblazers in third and the Houston Rockets in fourth both finishing with 53 wins and 29 losses.
Utah Jazz secured fifth with the Oklahoma Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers rounding out the eight.
What Players Are Worth Keeping An Eye On?
There are plenty of must-see players in this year’s NBA playoffs. The regular season’s best team Milwaukee largely have the commentator’s nightmare Giannis Antentokoumpo to thank for their impressive campaign.
The Greek Freak is one of the favourites for the MVP crown after averaging 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Houston Rockets’ James Harden has been a scoring machine this season, netting over 30 points in 32 games in a row and averaging 36.6 points per game.
Elsewhere, the Warriors’ pair of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are well used to leading their side to titles having won the last two while Boston and Philadelphia both have star-studded line ups with the likes of Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid on show.
Who Are The Favourites?
Reigning champions Golden State Warriors are considered a “super-team” given their level of star power and are heavy favourites to retain their crown at 4/9.
The East’s best bet appears to be the Bucks who are 6/1 to clinch their first championship since 1971. The Toronto Raptors are 11/1 while despite the Houston Rockets finishing 4th in the West they are 12/1 to take the title from Golden State.
Is Lebron James Involved?
Sadly no. Lebron James made the move to the LA Lakers in the off-season and had the young side in playoff contention. James, however, suffered an injury which kept him out for a substantial amount of time as the Lakers fell away eventually finishing tenth in the West.