LeBron James’ run at an incredible eighth-straight NBA finals appearance begins with his Cleveland Cavaliers taking on the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs.
All games in this series will be broadcast on either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or TNT (full schedule). If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch all of the games live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, including ABC (live in select markets), ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT. You can sign up right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the games on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: ABC (live in select markets), ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in all four of DirecTV Now’s channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the games live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: ABC (live in select markets), ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in the “Sling Orange” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch the games live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
WatchESPN: You can also watch games that are broadcast on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. Games on ABC can be watched for free without cable if you have a participating internet service provider (ISP), while games on ESPN and ESPN2 require you to sign in to a TV provider. If you don’t have a participating ISP for the ABC games, or don’t have cable for the ESPN games, you can use your Hulu, DirecTV Now or Sling TV credentials to sign in.
If LeBron can get his team to the finals this year, it would one of his most impressive feats in a career full of them. In each of his previous eight trips to the finals, his team has been either a 1 or a 2 seed, but this year, the Cavs are a 4 after an inconsistent season that saw them rearrange the roster in very significant ways at the trade deadline.
Since that major roster shakeup, the Cavs are 19-10 with the East’s fourth-best net rating (4.0), trailing the 76ers (11.1), Raptors (7.5) and Heat (4.3). While the defense has been a major question mark all year, the team has been excellent offensively since acquiring Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., and Jordan Clarkson, ranking second in the NBA–and first among all playoff teams–with 112.9 points per 100 possessions.
The Cavs are a tough team to decipher heading into the postseason. The overall metrics wouldn’t suggest a Finals team, but LeBron is obviously capable of incredible, super-human things, and if Hood, Clarkson and Nance play to their potential, that’s probably enough to make it out of the wide-open East.
That said, Cleveland can’t overlook its first-round opponent. Victor Oladipo has been one the league’s best two-way players, Myles Turner–while inconsistent this year–has stretches of dominance, and the Pacers can be really solid on both ends of the court when they’re clicking. They also won three out of four against Cleveland this season, though all of those games came pre-deadline, so it’s tough to read too much into that.
A first-round exit for LeBron would ultimately be a major surprise, but this nonetheless stacks up as what should be a competitive series.