LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers claimed the final spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday, April 29. While the second round of the NBA Playoffs started Saturday, April 28, James and company were still playing in round one.
Cleveland faced a fierce battle from Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers in the opening round. The underdog Pacers fought all the way to a Game 7 before bowing out.
LeBron took over Game 7, scoring 45 points and leading the Cavs to a 105-101 win. Cleveland, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, will advance to face the Toronto Raptors. Toronto is the number one seed and defeated the Washington Wizards in round one.
The Cavaliers and Raptors will begin their best-of-seven series on Tuesday, May 1.
The other match-up in the Eastern Conference pits the Boston Celtics against the Philadelphia 76ers. Boston is the number two seed in the East, while Philadelphia is the three seed.
Boston advanced to the Conference Semifinals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. The Celtics are playing without star point guard Kyrie Irving, who is recovering from knee surgery.
The 76ers took care of the Heat to open their NBA Playoffs in 2018.
They needed just five games to win the series. Despite being the lower seed, many are favoring the 76ers to beat the Celtics. This feeling is a combination of Philadelphia’s play recently and Irving being out for Boston.
Meanwhile, the second round has already begun in the Western Conference. The set of first round match-ups in the West were all finished in six games or less, allowing the second round to start sooner.
In one series, the Golden State Warriors led the New Orleans Pelicans one game to zero. The Warriors took the first game 123-101 on Saturday, April 28. Golden State, an annual title contender, is expected to win the series comfortably.
New Orleans, however, has already proved doubters wrong in the NBA Playoffs. The Pelicans are the sixth seed in the West but defeated three seed Portland in the first round.
Also, they did so with ease. New Orleans was the only team to earn a sweep in round one.
The Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz are the fourth and final pair of teams in the Conference Semifinals. Houston beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in round one, while Utah defeated Oklahoma City.
The Rockets also won Game 1 against the Jazz. The Rockets dominated the game, though some expect a competitive series.
The Conference Finals are expected to begin May 15-16. However, it could be moved up. The Finals will start on May 31 and end in early June.