Author: Brett Pollakoff


NBA Finals schedule is set: Dates and times for matchup between Cavaliers and Warriors (or Rockets)


If the Cavaliers and the Warriors had both completed sweeps in their respective Conference Finals matchups, the league (briefly) considered altering the schedule of the NBA Finals.

Cleveland did its part, but Golden State couldn’t close out the Rockets.

The Finals schedule is now set in stone — local times first, Eastern times next.

Game 1 – Thu  June  4 Cleveland at Golden State/Houston   TBD     9:00PM     

Game 2 – Sun  June  7 Cleveland at Golden State/Houston   TBD     8:00PM     

Game 3 – Tue  June  9 Golden State/Houston at Cleveland   9:00PM  9:00PM     

Game 4 – Thu  June 11 Golden State/Houston at Cleveland   9:00PM  9:00PM     

Game 5 * Sun  June 14 Cleveland at Golden State/Houston   TBD     8:00PM    

Game 6 * Tue  June 16 Golden State/Houston at Cleveland   9:00PM  9:00PM     

Game 7 * Fri  June 19 Cleveland at Golden State/Houston   TBD     9:00PM     

The Warriors can advance with a home victory over the Rockets on Wednesday, and if that happens, both Golden State and Cleveland will have more than a week to prepare for the matchup most of us have been waiting to see.

WATCH: Cavaliers crowned Eastern Conference champs

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four

When LeBron James left Miami to rejoin the Cavaliers last summer, many expected that he (and Kevin Love) would lead the team to the NBA Finals.

But the way it happened, with Love being lost in the first round of the postseason due to injury, and with Kyrie Irving being injured and out for two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, was anything but easy.

It’s been eight long years for Cavaliers fans since their team played in the NBA Finals, but that’s what James and his teammates delivered by completing a sweep of the Atlanta Hawks. Receiving a trophy on their home floor with confetti raining down is just what James and the Cleveland fans envisioned some 10 months ago, and they’ll hope to see it one more time in June once the Finals matchup with the Warriors (which isn’t yet official, but is widely expected) is finished.

LeBron James flies in for monster slam in Cavaliers’ Game 4 win over Hawks (VIDEO)


It was evident very early on in the Cavaliers’ Game 4 blowout win over the Hawks that Atlanta simply was finished.

Too many injuries and too much LeBron James meant that the Hawks would be going home for the summer, and since the outcome of the series was a foregone conclusion, Atlanta’s effort was anything but inspired.

LeBron took advantage early, and got loose for a monster slam dunk on the fast break. He took off with a healthy step just inside the free throw line, and struck his iconic Dunkman pose as a flew toward the basket.

Cavaliers complete sweep of Hawks, advance to NBA Finals

Getty Images

The Hawks gave the Cavaliers everything they had in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but still came up short in an overtime loss thanks to an incredibly brilliant performance from LeBron James.

Once Game 4 began, with Cleveland looking to close out the series at home, it was clear that Atlanta simply had nothing left.

The Cavaliers steamrolled the Hawks 118-88 to win the Eastern Conference crown, and advance to the NBA Finals.

While Cleveland will be experiencing its first trip to the championship round since 2007, this is beginning to be a regular occurrence for LeBron — he’s the first player (along with teammate James Jones) to make five straight Finals appearances since several members of the 1966 Boston Celtics.

James dragged his team to victory in Game 3, but didn’t need to do nearly as much of the heavy lifting in this one. He finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but didn’t play the entire fourth quarter due to the lead never dropping below 22 points.

Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup after a two-game absence, and looked sharp in scoring nine first-quarter points and 16 overall in just under 22 minutes of action. Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov continued their punishment of the Hawks’ front line, and J.R. Smith rained down jumpers to finish with 18 points off the bench.

Atlanta’s 60-win season is something to be celebrated, and injuries are largely to blame for the disappointing way that the Hawks saw things come to a close. Thabo Sefolosha and Kyle Korver were out entirely before the series was through, and DeMarre Carroll, while still on the floor, was never the same after the Game 1 knee injury he suffered.

The question for the Cavaliers now becomes whether or not the team is skilled enough to rise to the challenge of battling the best team in the West, which is likely to be the Golden State Warriors, who have been dominant on both ends of the floor all season long.

But as we’ve seen throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs for going on the last five seasons, having LeBron James in the starting lineup is more than enough to give whatever team he happens to be playing for a legitimate fighting chance.

Report: Hawks’ Paul Millsap may require offseason shoulder surgery

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Three
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The Hawks tore through the first part of the regular season, but things slowed after the All-Star break, and have now come grinding to a halt in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thabo Sefolosha was lost before the postseason began with a broken leg, and Kyle Korver was lost in the series against the Cavaliers with an ankle injury that will require surgery. DeMarre Carroll has been playing, but has been a shell of himself after suffering a knee injury in Game 1.

And yes, there’s more.

From Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

The most serious of those is Millsap’s sprained right shoulder, which caused him to miss five games in early April and has never fully healed. There are whispers that it might require surgery after the season.

Every team has injuries at this time of year, and the Hawks will get no sympathy from their current opponent. The Cavs lost All-Star forward Kevin Love in the first round, while Kyrie Irving has hardly played in this series because of knee troubles. But LeBron is the ultimate equalizer, able to turn even a battered roster into a contender. That’s what superstars do.

This tidbit comes in a longer piece about the way the Hawks are constructed, and whether their equal-opportunity style is one that is capable of winning a championship.

I’m not yet convinced.

Atlanta’s hot start, one in in which the team won 40 of its first 48 regular season games, was partly due to having the element of surprise in being so good so soon, and Korver putting up all-time great shooting numbers that had defenses with little time to prepare second-guessing their coverages.

As the season wore on, however, and the Hawks became a known quantity, teams were able to adjust. The Nets even picked up two playoff wins against Atlanta, and that seemed wholly unlikely before the first round began.

Atlanta fans will blame the high volume of injuries for the team falling short in the postseason, and making it to the Conference Finals, even in the watered-down East, remains an accomplishment worth noting. If the team comes back intact next season and can shake the injury bug, it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s once again capable of getting this far.