CLEVELAND, OH Sporting Alert — Defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers and Western Conference powerhouses San Antonio Spurs return to action in the second round of the NBA playoffs on Monday night.
The LeBron James-led Cavaliers will take on the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, while the Spurs, who are led by Kawhi Leonard, face-off against the sharp-shooting Houston Rockets in Game 1 of their Western Conference semi-finals.
Both games are on the TNT network and streaming live on TNT Overtime, starting at 7:00 PM ET and 9:30 PM ET.
Cleveland, which easily put away the Indiana Pacers 4-0 in its first round series, starts as the bookies favourite to win this series against the Raptors, who picked up a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in their opening series.
For the Raptors, All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan, who missed scoring in double figures just once in the series against the Bucks, enters this second round matchup with the Cavs in good form.
In his three games with the Cavaliers during the regular season, DeRozan averaged 29.7 points per game and shot 43.6 percent from the floor.
In the first-round series against Milwaukee, DeRozan averaged 23.5 points and 5.5 rebounds and shot the ball 43.9 percent from the field.
For Cleveland, James also heads into this series in immaculate form — averaging 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 9.0 assists and shooting 54.3 percent from the field and 45.0 percent from 3-point range.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, James, who had one triple-double during the series, just missed “becoming just the third player in the last 30 years to average a triple-double in a best-of-seven series.”
Meanwhile, San Antonio heads into Game 1 of its Western Conference semifinal playoff series against Houston at the AT&T Center as a slight favourite, but basketball experts are predicting a very tight and entertaining best-of-seven game series.
The Spurs bounced the Memphis Grizzlies from the playoffs in the first round after winning that series 4-2, with three players scoring in double figures over the six games.
Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio with 31.2 points and six rebounds against the Grizzlies, while Tony Parker scored 16.3 points and LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 14.8 points and 7.3 boards during the first-round series.
Houston, in the meantime, easily sent Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder packing from the playoffs and Mike D’Antoni’s men are hoping to build on that win as they seek to make a deep run into the postseason.
James Harden led the Rockets in the series win over the Thunder with 33.2 points, 7.0 assists and 6.4 rebounds.
Veterans Lou Williams, Nene, Eric Gordon and Patrick Beverley were also important figures for Houston in the opening round.
Harden averaged nearly a triple-double in his four meetings with San Antonio during the regular season — putting up 29.8 points, 11.8 assists and 9.0 rebounds in those encounters.
Monday, May 1
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers 7:00 PM TNT and TNT Overtime
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS – GAME 1
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs 9:30 PM TNT and TNT Overtime
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS – GAME 1