Who will win NBA Eastern and Western conference finals? Schedule, time, TV and predictions

At one end of the spectrum, the NBA conference finals feature a team with 17 championships.

That’s the Boston Celtics, steeped in decades of legendary history.

At the other end are the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have never played in the NBA Finals, and the Indiana Pacers, who have played in the Finals just once but remain titleless.

The Dallas Mavericks are trying to get back to the Finals for the third time in franchise history having lost to the Miami Heat in 2006. They beat the Heat in 2011.

No matter, the NBA will have a different champion for the sixth consecutive season, illustrative of a new era in which dynasties are difficult to create and the same teams and players aren’t getting to the Finals year after year. Parity, competitive balance, whatever you’d like to call it, it’s the new collective-bargaining agreement at work. There’s just one No. 1 seed in the final four – along with a three seed, five seed and six seed.

Some of the league’s best young players will be on display in the East and West finals.

(All times Eastern; series are best-of-seven; * - if necessary)

2024 NBA conference finals schedule

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Boston Celtics vs. No. 6 Indiana Pacers

Celtics win series 4-0

Game 1: Celtics 133, Pacers 128 (OT)

Game 2: Celtics 126, Pacers 110

Game 3: Celtics 114, Pacers 111

Game 4: Celtics 105, Pacers 102

Who to watch: The Celtics have the best starting five in the NBA, however, center Kristaps Porzingis (strained calf) has been ruled out for Game 1. Boston’s Jayson Tatum (26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists per game) and Jaylen Brown (23.0 ppg) are expected to carry the freight with help from Derrick White (15.2 ppg), Jrue Holiday (12.5 ppg), Al Horford, Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser. Tyrese Haliburton (18.8 points, 8.1 assists per game) and Pascal Siakam (21.1 ppg, 53.7% shooting from the field) make it go for Indiana which has five other players averaging double figures in points in the playoffs (Myles Turner, Andrew Nembhard, Obi Toppin, T.J. McConnell and Aaron Nesmith).

What to watch: The Pacers had the No. 2 offense and the Celtics the No. 1 offense in the league. Boston also owned the No. 2 defense, so can the Pacers’ high-scoring attack put up enough points to win four games?

Prediction: Celtics in five

Western Conference

No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks win series 4-1

Game 1: Mavericks 108, Timberwolves 105

Game 2: Mavericks 109, Timberwolves 108

Game 3: Mavericks 116, Timberwolves 107

Game 4: Timberwolves 105, Mavericks 100

Game 5: Mavericks 124, Timberwolves 103

Who to watch: Let’s start with Mavs guard Luka Doncic, who finished third in MVP voting, and Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, who finished seventh for MVP. Doncic averaged a league-best 33.9 points plus 9.8 assists and 9.2 rebounds, and Edwards averaged 25.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists. These are not one-player teams. Dallas also features Kyrie Irving, and trade deadline acquisitions of P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford have made Dallas better offensively and defensively. Derrick Jones Jr., Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dereck Lively II are notable contributors. Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (21.8 ppg, 8.3 rebounds per game), Rudy Gobert (14.0 ppg, 12.9 rpg), Jaden McDaniels, Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kyle Anderson are capable of pushing the Timberwolves to the Finals.

What to watch: The Timberwolves have discovered an adequate amount of offense in the playoffs, so with their No. 1 defense, it's going to come down to how well they can defend Doncic who was on the Game 6 conference semifinals injury report with a sprained right knee and left ankle soreness.

Prediction: Timberwolves in six

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA conference finals Celtics-Pacers, T-Wolves-Mavericks predictions