Bucks vs. Pacers TV channel, live stream, how to watch NBA playoffs online, game time, odds

Milwaukee Bucks guard Malik Beasley was seemingly eager to face the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs when the two teams were at the height of their regular-season feud. “It’s not going to be pretty for them,” Beasley said in January. Well, Beasley’s getting his wish, but not exactly under the best circumstances.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is out for Game 1. There’s no telling when he’ll be able to return from the calf injury that has him sidelined. The rest of his Bucks are facing a Pacers team that is healthy, whole, and ready to improve upon their 4-1 record against the Bucks during the regular season.

So, will the Bucks be able to rally without their best player? Or will the Pacers control the early portion of this series against the short-handed Bucks? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Game 1.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers
Date: Sunday, April 21 | Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Fiserv Forum — Milwaukee
TV channel: TNT
Odds: Pacers -1.5; O/U 231.5
Storylines
Bucks: Here’s how big Antetokounmpo’s absence in this matchup will be: on Nov. 9, Giannis scored 54 points against the Pacers… and it wasn’t even his season-high against them, because he went on to score 64 against them on Dec. 13. The Pacers have built their defense around allowing shots at the rim so they can prevent 3’s. Without Giannis, the Bucks aren’t going to be able to take advantage of those easy paint points. Do the Bucks have another way of keeping up with Indiana’s elite offense, especially when the Pacers never give up 3-pointers?

Pacers: The Pacers had the second-most efficient offense in NBA history this season. They did it by playing at the second-fastest pace in the NBA. Tyrese Haliburton loves getting out in transition and killing teams on the break. Those baskets aren’t as easy to come by in the slower postseason, and Doc Rivers teams are notoriously stingy in transition. Can the Pacers adjust? Or will they be able to overpower the depleted Bucks with their speed?

Prediction
This one is simple. If the Pacers were 4-1 against the Bucks with a healthy Antetokounmpo, I see no reason to believe the Bucks are going to beat them with their best player sidelined. Don’t overthink this one. The Pick: Pacers -1.5

Thunder vs. Pelicans TV channel, live stream, how to watch NBA playoffs online, game time, odds

A year ago, the Thunder and Pelicans faced one another on relatively even footing. The two young Western Conference foes battled in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 Play-In game, and Oklahoma City came out ahead, 123-118. In the year since then, New Orleans has found itself in a relatively similar position. Instead of fighting for a spot in the Play-In, the Pelicans have indeed reached the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

But the Thunder? They’ve grown up quite a bit more. Oklahoma City just became the youngest No. 1 seed in NBA history, and the Thunder will have a major advantage in this game thanks to the absence of Zion Williamson. The Pelicans are used to playing without their All-Star. Doing so as an underdog against a 57-win team is another matter entirely.

So can New Orleans come up with a strategy to survive Williamson’s absence? Or will the Thunder take control of this series at home? Here’s everything you need to know about Thunder vs. Pelicans.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Date: Sunday, April 21 | Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Paycom Center — Oklahoma City
TV channel: TNT
Odds: Thunder -8.5; O/U 214.5
Storylines
Thunder: Chet Holmgren has never played a playoff game. Jalen Williams has never played a playoff game. Josh Giddey has never played a playoff game. Cason Wallace has never played a playoff game. Mark Daigneault has never coached a playoff game. There are benefits to youth, but the inexperience here is significant. The Pelicans have not only reached the playoff stage, but done so (and competed against a former Finals team in the 2022 Phoenix Suns) without Williamson. The Thunder will adjust to the postseason pressure. Will it be in Game 1? Or will it take time?

Pelicans: The Pelicans had no problem filling in for Williamson against the Kings on Friday. They did so through their remarkable depth, as six different Pelicans scored in double-figures. That’s all well and good against Sacramento, but the Thunder are another matter. Who’s going to step up and be the star against Oklahoma City? Is Brandon Ingram healthy enough to do so? Can Jonas Valanciunas bully the younger, skinner Holmgren? Will Trey Murphy break out as a starter? Someone has to do it. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the only All-NBA-caliber player in this series, the Pelicans will lose it.

Prediction
It’s been awhile since we’ve heard an Oklahoma City playoff crowd. If you need to remember what one sounds like, just stick an airhorn inside a megaphone and place it right next to your eardrum. That crowd is going to power the young Thunder through any growing pains, and Oklahoma City will take Game 1. The Pick: Thunder -8.5

Why Knicks vs. 76ers revolves around Joel Embiid, whose injury scare and time on bench helped define Game 1

NEW YORK — Joel Embiid made one one the most electrifying plays of his career on Saturday, but it went from sensational to scary as soon as his feet hit the ground. With less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter of the Philadelphia 76ers’ playoff opener against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the NBA’s reigning MVP threw the ball off the glass to himself and dunked on Knicks forward OG Anunoby. As his teammates started to celebrate, Embiid landed, grabbed at his left knee and fell to the floor. It is the same knee that Embiid had a surgical procedure on the meniscus in February.

Forward Kelly Oubre Jr., the closest Sixer to Embiid on the court, quickly went from A) flexing at Embiid to B) trying to catch him as he fell to C) running back on defense. Oubre’s first thought was “hell of a play,” he said, “and then, oh shit.”

When Embiid eventually got up, he walked to the locker room, and he didn’t reemerge until moments before the third quarter was underway, after the rest of the team had done their usual halftime warmups.

“We were in the huddle, and then I get on the court and No. 21 is there,” Oubre said. “But that just goes to say he’s resilient, he wants to win, he’s going to do every single thing, he’s going to put his body on the line.”

Embiid wound up playing 20 minutes in the second half and 37 total. He finished with 29 points on 8-for-22 shooting (and 11-for-12 from the free throw line), eight rebounds and six assists. He was plus-14 in the 111-104 loss — in the 11 minutes that he sat, Philadelphia was outscored by 21 points.

Sixers coach Nick Nurse said that Embiid would be assessed “just like we do after every game,” and then Philadelphia will determine his status for Monday’s Game 2. Asked if the team was strongly considering shutting Embiid down, Nurse said, “I don’t think so. I think, listen, he’s really a warrior and he’s battling. And I think he absolutely wants to play, but let’s see how he turns out here tonight.”

Embiid’s alley-oop to himself was “an amazing play,” Oubre said, “but yeah, man, it’s scary. Our bodies are what we use as our vehicles out here, so, you know, it’s tough. And he’s 7-foot, 300 pounds. Might be [lighter] — sorry, Jo, if I called you fat. He might be less weight. But I mean, it’s tough, man. I couldn’t even imagine being 7 feet and being able to move like a guard and do the things that I can do but being that big.”

It was also an ambitious play for someone who was working his way back after knee surgery, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Nurse wants him to rein it in. In a basketball sense, Embiid’s gambit worked.

“I just think that was the play that happened, and he pump-faked up and the guy jumped over the top of him and he had an angle,” Nurse said. “I don’t know, I’ll have to look at it again, but I just think that kind of was the play that unfolded.”

Embiid declined to speak to reporters postgame, but, wearing a towel and white sunglasses in the locker room, he debriefed with Sixers guard Kyle Lowry.

For a team that lost Game 1 of a playoff series, the mood was remarkably positive. Oubre, who had five steals and served as the primary defender on Knicks star Jalen Brunson “did an unbelievable job tonight,” Lowry said, as Brunson was limited to 22 points on 8-for-26 shooting and committed five turnovers.

Nurse said that Philadelphia guard Tyrese Maxey “was really awesome in the second half,” in which he scored 21 of his game-high 33 points. Knicks forward Josh Hart scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, but the two clutch, late-clock 3s he made were shots that the Sixers were willing to give up.

“We had some really good possessions,” Nurse added. “And even the possessions that they made their last four 3s on, I’m not sure I’m taking those possessions back. I think we were doing what we wanted to do there.”

There were, however, several areas of concern, foremost among them the dismal defensive rebounding. The Knicks had an offensive rebounding rate of 51.8% and scored 26 second-chance points. At significantly less than 100%, Embiid struggled to keep Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein off the glass, but the centers, who grabbed a combined 12 offensive boards, weren’t the only ones doing the damage — Brunson and Hart grabbed a combined nine.

“We gotta muddy it up a little more,” Oubre said. “Get more physical, hit guys, block out. Everybody has to come in and crash. It’s a five-man job, not just a one- or two-man job. Everybody has to come in there and just team rebound.

On 4/20, Philadelphia’s bench got smoked. The Knicks had 42 bench points to the Sixers’ seven. New York reserve Miles McBride had 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting, made five of his seven 3-point attempts and was plus-37 in 28 minutes. With Embiid and Brunson on the bench at the beginning of the second quarter, “we didn’t guard anybody,” Nurse said.

The Knicks hit 3s on three consecutive possessions, and “the crowd started getting into it,” Oubre said. “They had the momentum.” Philadelphia got that momentum back in the third quarter — at one point they scored 32 points on 15 possessions — but lost it again with Embiid on the bench in the fourth.

Maxey said that, going forward, they have to be able to win the minutes “without the big fella.”

When Embiid is on the floor, Hart said that New York needs to “be more disciplined,” not let him get easy baskets and keep him off the free throw line. He said that Embiid’s alley-oop to himself — and trip to the locker room — didn’t affect the Knicks one way or another.

“Obviously, a hell of a play on his end,” Hart said. “But it didn’t change anything with our thought process.”