NBA Conference Finals 2018: Predictions, Start Times, TV Schedule, Everything You Need To Know

Sure, the road was winding but the NBA season has ended up right where we expected at the beginning of the year—Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics in the East and Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets in the West. Those 2018 Conference Final matchups are set to get under way on Sunday, with the series winners set to face off in the NBA Finals. 

The Cavs' LeBron James has made short work of the Eastern Conference for nearly a decade. If he topples the Celtics this year—which Cleveland did in last year's conference finals—it'll be his eight consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. Cleveland, despite being a lower seed than Boston, are the favorites in the series. Not that the Celtics are planning to roll over—people have doubted the team the entire playoffs since they're without injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

"Obviously guys have been going down all year. It's like you never know who's going to go down, things like that, but we find a way," Celtics guard Terry Rozier told reporters this week, via ESPN. "We pull together. I'm not saying we're better or not [than last year's team], but we're definitely going back to the Eastern Conference finals, and that's a blessing."

lebron LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the first half while playing the Toronto Raptors in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 5, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In the West, it'll be interesting to see if the 1-seed Houston—led by stars Chris Paul and James Harden—can actually give Golden State, the defending champions, a run for their money. The Warriors—led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green—are an absolute juggernaut when they're clicking. Golden State coach Steve Kerr wasn't buying some folks who claimed the Rockets have the edge in the series.

"No, I like where we are," Kerr told reporters this week, via ESPN. "Our guys have rings. That's a good position to be in. To me, the hardest championship is the first one, as an individual player and as a team, because you don't know—you don't quite know—if you can do it."

The experts at ESPN seem to agree with Kerr. Of the 22 NBA experts at the network, just three—Tim MacMahon, André Snellings and Royce Young—picked the Rockets to win the seven-game series. Just one expert at CBS Sports picked Houston. 

Most folks think James and the Cavs will prevail again in the East. Just three ESPN experts—Chris Forsberg, Bobby Marks and Marc Spears—picked Boston while just one expert at CBS Sports—Colin Ward-Henninger—thought the Celtics will topple Cleveland.

Of course, predictions are often wrong. Here is the TV schedule for the Conference Finals matchups to see what happens for yourself, via NBA.com. (Everything past Game 4 is, of course, if the game is necessary.)

-East Game 1: Cleveland at Boston: Sunday, May 13, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

-West Game 1: Golden State at Houston: Monday, May 14, 9 p.m. ET on TNT

-East Game 2: Cleveland at Boston: Tuesday, May 15, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

-West Game 2: Golden State at Houston: Wednesday, May 16, 9 p.m. ET on TNT

-East Game 3: Boston at Cleveland: Saturday, May 19, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

-West Game 3: Houston at Golden State: Sunday, May 20, 8 p.m. ET on TNT

-East Game 4: Boston at Cleveland: Monday, May 21, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

-West Game 4: Houston at Golden State: Tuesday, May 22, 9 p.m. ET on TNT

-East Game 5: Cleveland at Boston: Wednesday, May 23, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

-West Game 5: Golden State at Houston: Thursday, May 24, 9 p.m. ET on TNT

-East Game 6: Boston at Cleveland: Friday, May 25, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

-West Game 6: Houston at Golden State: Saturday, May 26, 9 p.m. ET on TNT

-East Game 7: Cleveland at Boston: Sunday, May 27, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

-West Game 7: Golden State at Houston: Monday, May 28, 9 p.m. ET on TNT