LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers took Game 1, 97-89, against the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference Finals. In the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors trounced the Houston Rockets, 110-106, in the opening match after NBA 2015 season MVP, Stephen Curry, pumped 34 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists.
Against the Hawks, James contributed 31 points, including a soaring dunk in the final minute that sealed the Cavaliers' victory. But the big story was J.R. Smith who went 8-for-12 from the three-point range, and sunk 28 points. Smith's back-to-back 3s in the third quarter gave the Cavaliers control of the game's momentum.
Back in the Western Conference Finals, the much-anticipated match-up between Curry and MVP first runner-up James Harden of the Houston Rockets, is living up to its hype. In Game 1, Curry outscored Harden, with 28 points and was 11-20 from the field. The Warriors is going into Game 2 feeling more confident with the Rockets needing to find a way to guard Curry.
Before Game 2 in the Western and Eastern Conference Finals get underway, and with four of the best teams in the NBA itching to capture the Finals Crown, let us look into early predictions from each of the series.
Bleacher Report is predicting a Warriors vs Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. However, both teams are expected to pass through the eye of the needle to reach the Finals as this season's playoffs promise plenty of edge-of-your-seat action and spectacular 'showtime' moments.
Western Conference: Rockets vs Warriors
According to Bleacher Report, Curry was able to carry his team past the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies and remains the highest-scoring player remaining in the NBA post-season, with an average or 28,7 points per game. He is also backed by a solid wing play from Klay Thompson.
Harden's Rockets is no stranger to huge challenges. Against the LA Clippers during the playoffs, the Rockets rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to reach the Western Conference Finals. The team is depending on its strong offense led by Harden, and together with Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza, the Houston Rockets believe they have what it take to make it to the finals and win another NBA Championship.
The Houston Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995.
However, the Golden State Warriors are stronger offensively, with a much younger player than their Western Conference Finals rival. The Earriors averaged 95.3 points per game in the playoffs and were able to hold their opponents to shoot an average 46.5 percent from the floor. On the other hand, the Rockets have allowed their opponents to shoot 51.0 percent from the floor.
Bleacher Report said the Warriors will win the Western Conference Finals in Game 6.
Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks
It looks like Brown will finally hand the Cavaliers their first NBA title in its franchise history, according to the report. Cleveland has transformed itself into a more well-rounded squad with the absence of Kevin Love.
But James will not have an easy task handing the Cavaliers the Eastern Conference Finals. He will need the support of J.R. Smith, Mathew Dellavedova and James Jones off the bench as the Atlanta Hawks are considered dangerous on the floor due to the squad's versatile kind of game.
The Atlanta Hawks have three solid three-point shooters, like DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague and each of the starters offer strong play from downtown.
The Eastern Conference Finals will be a close fight, but the Cavaliers are expected to seal their victory in Game 7.
To keep up to date, go to the NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals Schedule site to track how your favorite NBA team is doing.
For those interested in more NBA Playoff action, here is how and when to watch the games online. Go to the NBA Stream site for this action, and be sure to check to see if you are in the right time zone:
For those who are interested in watching these games on television, here are the stations they will play on according to the National TV Schedule on the NBA Site. Any Tuesday or Wednesday game will be on the NBA on TNT. For Thursday and Friday, check on ESPN. For Sunday and Monday, it is back to NBA on TNT again. As for radio times, check your area.
Those that want even more action on their phone, tablet, or computer might want to check out TNT Overtime, a way to watch enhanced coverage of the NB on TNT Live. This service allows the viewer to watch on a phone or tablet, vote for a favorite NBA player to watch live, watch live from multiple camera angles, and follow social buzz on the games and players.