With their win over the Houston Rockets in Game 5, the Los Angeles Lakers clinched a spot in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010. And for a third consecutive time in this postseason, the Lakers are waiting to learn the identity of their opponent.
That’ll be dependent on how the matchup between L.A. Clippers and Denver Nuggets unfolds. The Clippers hold a 3-2 series lead but blew a double-digit lead in Game 5 with an opportunity to close the series out.
The Clippers have looked like the much better team throughout the series, but the Nuggets continue to hang around, and now they’ll have a chance to force a Game 7.
The NBA released a tentative schedule for the Lakers’ Conference Finals matchup, regardless of who they end up facing. Should the Clippers win Sunday, they’ll play Game 1 of one of the most highly anticipated Conference Finals matchups in history on Wednesday, Sep. 16.
However, if the Clippers-Nuggets series goes to a Game 7, then Game 1 of the WCF will not happen until Friday, Sep. 18, regardless of the Lakers’ opponent.
L.A. spoke negatively about getting an overly long break in between series after a six-day gap between the first and second round. Perhaps they can avoid it this time if the Clippers can close out their series on Sunday.
The Eastern Conference Finals are already set, as the Miami Heat easily handled the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games, while the Boston Celtics won a thrilling seven game series against the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
The Celtics and Heat represent the first Eastern Conference Finals ever where the Nos. 1 and No. 2 seeds are not involved.
The first three games of Celtics-Heat series have already been scheduled, with Game 1 taking place on Tuesday, Sep. 15.
Tentative Western Conference Finals Schedules
If Clippers defeat Nuggets in six games:
Wednesday, Sep. 16: Game 1, Lakers vs. Clippers, 6 p.m. PT, TNT
Friday, Sep. 18: Game 2, Lakers vs. Clippers, 6 p.m., TNT
Sunday, Sep. 20: Game 3, Lakers @ Clippers, 4:30 p.m., TNT
Tuesday, Sep. 22: Game 4, Lakers @ Clippers, 6 p.m., TNT
Thursday, Sep. 24*: Game 5, Lakers vs. Clippers, 6 p.m., TNT
Saturday, Sep. 26*: Game 6, Lakers @ Clippers, 6 p.m., TNT
Monday, Sep. 28*: Game 7, Lakers vs. Clippers, TBD, TNT
If Clippers-Nuggets reaches Game 7, regardless of winner:
Friday, Sep. 18: Game 1, Lakers vs. Clippers/Nuggets, 6 p.m., TNT
Sunday, Sep. 20: Game 2, Lakers vs. Clippers/Nuggets, 4:30 p.m., TNT
Tuesday, Sep. 22: Game 3, Lakers @ Clippers/Nuggets, 6 p.m., TNT
Thursday, Sep. 24: Game 4, Lakers @ Clippers/Nuggets, 6 p.m., TNT
Saturday, Sep. 26*: Game 5, Lakers vs. Clippers/Nuggets, 6 p.m., TNT
Monday, Sep. 28*: Game 6, Lakers @ Clippers/Nuggets, TBD, TNT
Wednesday, Sep. 30*: Game 7, Lakers vs. Clippers/Nuggets, TBD, TNT
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