There is going to be some incredible star power in the Western Conference’s 3 vs. 6 first-round matchup of the 2018 NBA playoffs, as Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers take on Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.
All games in this series will be broadcast on either ESPN, ESPN2, TNT or NBA TV (full schedule). If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch all of the games live on your computer, phone, video game console, or other streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
DirecTV Now: ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in all four of DirecTV Now’s channel packages, while NBA TV is included in the “Go Big” and “Gotta Have It” bundles. 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: ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in the “Sling Orange” channel package, while NBA TV is in the “Sports Extra” add-on. 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.
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, which includes 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.
WatchESPN: You can also watch games that are broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2 on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. Watching on these platforms require you to sign in to a TV provider, but you can use your Hulu, DirecTV Now or Sling TV credentials to do exactly that.
Many considered DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury to also be a season-ender for the Pels, but it turned out to be just the opposite. Cousins went down on January 26. Since the start of February, the Pelicans are 21-11 with a 3.8 net rating, which ranks sixth in the NBA.
During that same span, Anthony Davis has gone bonkers, averaging 30.6 points on 51.8 percent shooting, 11.7 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.1 steals per contest. Combine that with what he did in his first–and only–postseason appearance in 2015, averaging 31.5 points, 11.0 boards and 3.0 blocks against the eventual champion Warriors, and Davis is probably the best candidate to put his team on his back during these playoffs.
But don’t mistake that for him not having any help. Jrue Holiday has quietly been one of the best guards in the league, averaging 19.0 points and 6.0 assists on the year, while Nikola Mirotic comes in averaging a red-hot 25.8 points, 4.0 threes and 12.0 rebounds since re-entering the starting lineup five games ago, which has unsurprisingly resulted in a five-game winning streak for the Pels.
Of course, Portland has its own MVP candidate (or perhaps we should call him the runner-up MVP candidate since James Harden is expected to easily win the award) in Damian Lillard, who averages 26.9 points and 6.6 assists per game and is fifth in the league in win shares (12.6). But the Blazers are more than just Lillard and McCollum, who make up one of the most dangerous offensive backcourts in the league. Since the All-Star break, they rank fourth in the NBA in defensive rating, giving up just 102.2 points per 100 possession over that span.
When you put it all together, you have two of the game’s best stars who can take over a game at any given moment, you have a handful second-tier stars, and you have two of the league’s hottest teams, who, by the way, split their four games during the regular season.
Not bad for a first-round matchup. Don’t be surprised if this one goes the distance.