For the Los Angeles Lakers, April through June has not been a kind time of the season after missing the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
Despite that, the 2019 NBA Playoffs have been one of the best in recent season. The conference semifinals proved to be an electric showdown between the top four teams in each conference. Well, save for one particularly green matchup.
The Milwaukee Bucks once again proved why they finished the 2018-19 NBA season with the league’s best record. After a surprising Game 1 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Bucks never looked back. In the remaining four games of the series, the Bucks won by an average of 16 points as the Celtics are worried that these were the first and last playoffs for Kyrie Irving in their uniform.
On the other side of the bracket, the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers faced off in a give and take series. After a big win for the Raptors in Game 1, the 76ers stole Game 2 in Toronto. Few games in the entire playoffs have been as close as the Game 7 showdown between the two squads. After a back and forth game, Kawhi Leonard sealed the game with a tough fadeaway that bounced multiple times before finally dropping in to send the Raptors back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the West, the battle between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets turned out to be a physical affair. Draymond Green accidentally jabbed James Harden in the eye during Game 1, causing him significant discomfort throughout the series. Despite that, the Rockets put up a fight every game, eventually tying the series at 2-2. The Warriors lost one of their own players during their Game 5 win as Kevin Durant left with a right calf strain that kept him sidelined for the rest of the series. The rest of the series proved to be only one more game after the Rockets failed to capitalize in Game 6. Stephen Curry, who was scoreless in the first half, sealed the deal with his 33 second-half points.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets rounded out the final series of the conference semifinals. The two Northwest Division teams delivered another exciting seven-game series including a four-overtime thriller in Game 3. After stealing Game 2 in Denver, the Trail Blazers clung on for dear life and eventually prevailed behind a Rodney Hood game-winner in quadruple overtime.
The Nuggets answered back by winning Game 4 in Portland and Game 5 back in Denver. Game 5 proved to be a dominant showcase for the Nuggets, winning by 26 points and allowing their bench to showcase their skills. Portland held court, winning Game 6 back home. Finally, in the final game, Portland surprised the Denver crowd by stealing the final win, largely behind C.J. McCollum’s 37 points.
The Conference Finals are shaping up to be a fantastic showcase. Portland returns to the Conference Finals for the first time since the 2000 NBA Playoffs against the Lakers. The Warriors are hoping to continue their fantastic streak and head to the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive season. The Bucks are hoping to get to the Finals for the first time since Kareem Abdul-Jabar led them there in 1974. The Raptors are hoping to get to the NBA Finals for their first time in franchise history. The Finals will begin on May 30.
Below are the conference finals matchup, dates, and times (PST).
Eastern Conference Finals:
Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs. Toronto Raptors (2); Milwaukee won season series 3-1.
Game 1: Raptors at Bucks, Wednesday, May 15 at 5:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 2: Raptors at Bucks, Friday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Bucks at Raptors, Sunday, May 19 at 4:00 p.m. (TNT)
Game 4: Bucks at Raptors, Tuesday, May 21 at 5:30 p.m. (TNT)
*Game 5: Raptors at Bucks, Thursday, May 23 at 5:30 p.m. (TNT)
*Game 6: Bucks at Raptors, Saturday, May 25 at 5:30 p.m. (TNT)
*Game 7: Raptors at Bucks, Monday, May 27 at 5:30 p.m. (TNT)
Western Conference Finals:
Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (3); Season series split 2-2.
Game 1: Trail Blazers at Warriors, Tuesday, May 14 at 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 2: Trail Blazers at Warriors, Thursday, May 16 at 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 3: Warriors at Trail Blazers, Saturday, May 18 at 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Warriors at Trail Blazers, Monday, May 20 at 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
*Game 5: Trail Blazers at Warriors, Wednesday, May 22 at 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
*Game 6: Warriors at Trail Blazers, Friday, May 24 at 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
*Game 7: Trail Blazers at Warriors, Sunday, May 26 at 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)