How to watch the NBA Finals without a cable subscription

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Giannis Antetokounmpo dunk
Giannis Antetokounmpo goes to the basket as Chris Paul looks on in game 2 of the NBA Finals.

  • The 2021 NBA Finals are now underway between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.
  • You can watch the remaining NBA Finals on ABC and ESPN3.
  • Many internet providers offer ESPN3 for free, and Sling is the cheapest streaming service with the channel.

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The 2020-21 NBA regular season concluded on May 16 and the Finals began on July 6. Remaining games are being broadcast live on ABC and ESPN3.

The Chris Paul-led Phoenix Suns defeated LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Clippers to represent the Western Conference in the Finals. In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks beat the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, the Miami Heat team that eliminated them last year, and the surprising Atlanta Hawks to earn their first Finals appearance since 1974.

You can see the full 2021 NBA playoff bracket below, including the matchups following the play-in tournament that ended on May 21.

NBA Playoff Bracket
The 2020-21 NBA playoff bracket.

Key dates for the 2020-21 NBA season

The 2020-21 NBA season is coming to a close with the Finals now in full swing. Here’s a rundown of key post-season dates.

  • May 22 – NBA playoffs officially began
  • July 8 – NBA Finals began
  • July 22 – NBA Finals Game Seven, if necessary

How to watch the 2021 NBA Finals

The NBA Finals are being broadcast live on ABC and ESPN3. ABC is available through several subscription streaming services without cable, and you may be able to stream the game online for free via ESPN3 depending on your internet provider. You can see if your internet provider includes ESPN3 here.

You can also stream the NBA Finals via the ESPN app, ABC.com, or the ABC app if you already pay for those channels through your TV provider.

If you don’t have a cable or satellite subscription, you can sign up for a live TV streaming service with access to ABC and/or ESPN3, like Sling TV, AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV, Fubo TV, or YouTube TV, to watch the Finals live.

Sling TV

Sling TV includes ESPN3 as part of its Orange plan for $35 a month. Sling doesn’t include ABC, but NBA Finals airing on that network are simulcast on ESPN3.

New Sling subscribers can get their first month for a discounted rate of just $10, which makes Sling one of the cheapest options for people who just want to stream the NBA Finals.

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YouTube TV

YouTubeTV offers channels like ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV for $65 a month, providing full access to all of the major broadcast and cable networks that show NBA games, including the Finals.

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Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV features access to channels like ESPN, TNT, and ABC for $65 a month, offering full access to the NBA Finals. However, NBA TV is not offered which could be an issue for viewers who want to catch more games during the regular season.

On the plus side, Hulu + Live TV does include access to Hulu’s entire on-demand library of shows and movies. You can also bundle Hulu with ESPN+ and Disney Plus for an extra $8 a month.

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Fubo TV

Fubo TV includes ABC under its Starter plan for $65 a month, so you can catch the NBA Finals. On the downside, TNT is not currently available, which could be an issue for fans who want to watch games during the regular season and playoffs.

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AT&T TV

AT&T TV is one of the most comprehensive options for streaming the NBA all season long. Plans start at $70 a month, but NBA fans who want access to the most games will need the Choice plan for $85 a month. This package includes ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.

That said, viewers who just need ABC or ESPN3 to watch the Finals have cheaper options to consider.

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2021 NBA Finals schedule

The 2021 NBA Finals began on July 8. You can find dates and times for the remaining games below.

Wednesday, July 14

Game Four: Phoenix Suns at Milwaukee Bucks, 9 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN3

Saturday, July 17

Game Five: Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns, 9 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN3

Tuesday, July 20

Game Six (if necessary): Phoenix Suns at Milwaukee Bucks, 9 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN3

Thursday, July 22

Game Seven (if necessary): Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns, 9 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN3

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How to watch the NBA playoffs without a cable subscription

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Kevin Durant James Harden Brooklyn Nets
  • The 2020-21 NBA postseason began on May 18 with a play-in tournament to decide playoff seeding.
  • Play-in tournament games are airing on ESPN and TNT; the playoffs will also air on ABC and NBA TV.
  • Streaming options for the NBA playoffs include live TV services, like AT&T TV, Sling TV, and more.

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The 2020-21 NBA regular season has concluded, leaving 20 teams remaining in the league’s newly adopted postseason format. Before the playoffs officially begin, the league is hosting a play-in tournament to decide the final seeding of the 2021 playoff bracket.

You can see the full 2021 NBA Playoff bracket below, including the matchups for the play-in tournament that began on May 18. So far, the Los Angeles Lakers have won the seventh seed in the Western Conference, while the Boston Celtics earned the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

NBA Play-in tournament

Last year, the NBA was able to finish the regular season and playoffs with 22 teams at a quarantined site in Orlando, Florida, but teams have been traveling for games this season and fans have been in attendance at some arenas. The NBA installed a detailed protocol to handle coronavirus outbreaks prior to the season and has revised guidance as necessary.

Key dates remaining in the 2020-21 NBA season

May 18 to 21 – Playoff play-in tournament

May 22 – NBA Playoffs officially begin

July 22 – NBA Finals Game Seven, if necessary

2021 NBA play-in tournament schedule

NBA play-in tournament games will be shown on TNT and ESPN.

Friday, May 21

  • (9) Memphis Grizzlies at (8) Golden State Warriors, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

How to watch the 2021 NBA playoffs

This year’s NBA Playoffs will air on TNT, ESPN, ABC, ESPN 3, and NBA TV. Scheduling information will be announced once the play-in tournament is completed on May 21.

You can stream playoff games via the ESPN app, NBA.com, TNT.com, ABC.com, or the ABC app if you already pay for those channels through your TV provider. Games broadcast on ABC will also be available to stream via ESPN3, which is free through most popular internet providers.

If you don’t have a cable or satellite subscription, you can sign up for a live TV streaming service with access to one or more of those channels, like Sling TV, AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV, Fubo TV, or YouTube TV to watch games live.

AT&T TV

AT&T TV is one of the most comprehensive options for streaming the NBA. Plans start at $70 a month, but NBA fans who want access to the most games will need the Choice plan for $85 a month. This package includes ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.

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YouTube TV

YouTubeTV offers ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV for $65 a month, providing full access to all of the major broadcast and cable networks that show NBA playoff games.

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Sling TV

Sling TV includes ESPN and TNT as part of its Orange plan for $35 a month. Sling doesn’t include ABC, but NBA playoff games airing on that network will be simulcast on ESPN 3, which is included with Sling’s Orange plan. Subscribers can add NBA TV via the Sling Sports Extra package for an additional $11 a month.

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Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV features access to ESPN, TNT, and ABC for $65 a month. However, NBA TV is not offered. On the plus side, Hulu + Live TV does include access to Hulu’s entire on-demand library of shows and movies. You can also bundle ESPN+ and Disney Plus with the service for an extra $8 a month.

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Fubo TV

Fubo TV includes ESPN, ABC, and NBA TV for $80 a month under its Elite plan. On the downside, TNT is not currently available.

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NBA TV

If you just need access to NBA TV or are only interested in watching the games televised on that network, you can sign up to stream the NBA TV channel directly. The service costs $7 a month or $20 for the rest of the season.

2021 NBA playoff schedule

The NBA playoffs will officially begin on May 22. Dates listed in the schedule below only go up to game four of the first-round playoff series. Later games in each series will be added as times are confirmed.

The two top-seeded teams, the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers, will know their first-round opponents after the conclusion of the play-in tournament.

Saturday, May 22

  • (6) Miami Heat at (3) Milwaukee Bucks, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • (5) Dallas Mavericks at (4) Los Angeles Clippers, 4:30 p.m. on ESPN
  • (7) Boston Celtics at (2) Brooklyn Nets, 8 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN 3
  • (6) Portland Trail Blazers at (3) Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Sunday, May 23

  • TBD at (1) Philadelphia 76ers, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • (7) Los Angeles Lakers at (2) Phoenix Suns, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN 3
  • (5) Atlanta Hawks at (4) New York Knicks, 7 p.m. ET on TNT
  • TBD at (1) Utah Jazz, 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Monday, May 24

  • (6) Miami Heat at (3) Milwaukee Bucks, 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT
  • (6) Portland Trail Blazers at (3) Denver Nuggets, 10 p.m. ET on TNT

Tuesday, May 25

  • (7) Boston Celtics at (2) Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT
  • (7) Los Angeles Lakers at (2) Phoenix Suns, 10 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN 3
  • (5) Dallas Mavericks at (4) Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV

Wednesday, May 26

  • TBD at (1) Philadelphia 76ers, 7 p.m. ET on NBA TV
  • (5) Atlanta Hawks at (4) New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT
  • TBD at (1) Utah Jazz, 10 p.m. ET on TNT

Thursday, May 27

  • (3) Milwaukee Bucks at (6) Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT
  • (2) Phoenix Suns at (7) Los Angeles Lakers, 10 p.m. ET on TNT
  • (3) Denver Nuggets at (6) Portland Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Friday, May 28

  • (4) New York Knicks at (5) Atlanta Hawks, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • (2) Brooklyn Nets at (7) Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN 3
  • (4) Los Angeles Clippers at (5) Dallas Mavericks, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Saturday, May 29

  • (3) Milwaukee Bucks at (6) Miami Heat, 1:30 p.m. ET on TNT
  • (3) Denver Nuggets at (6) Portland Trail Blazers, 4 p.m. ET on TNT
  • (1) Philadelphia 76ers at TBD
  • (1) Utah Jazz at TBD

Sunday, May 30

  • (4) New York Knicks at (5) Atlanta Hawks, 1 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN 3
  • (2) Phoenix Suns at (7) Los Angeles Lakers, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
  • (2) Brooklyn Nets at (7) Boston Celtics, 7 p.m. ET on TNT
  • (4) Los Angeles Clippers at (5) Dallas Mavericks, 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT
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How to watch the NBA without a cable subscription

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LeBron James Anthony Davis
LeBron James and Anthony Davis won the NBA Finals in their first season as teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • The 2020-21 NBA season tipped off on December 22, less than 75 days after the conclusion of last year’s NBA Finals.
  • Team schedules are shortened from 82 to 72 games for the regular season, and the league’s calendar is condensed.
  • Regular season games will air on ESPN, TNT, ABC, NBA TV, and local team affiliate stations.
  • You can find one or more of those channels on live TV streaming like AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and more.

The 2020-21 NBA season is now underway, with all 30 teams scheduled to play 72 games on a condensed calendar due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The start of the season comes less than 75 days after the conclusion of the last NBA season, which saw the Los Angeles Lakers prevail over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

The championship duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis make the Lakers the favorites to win the finals again this year, but teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers enter the season with overhauled rosters and their own championship aspirations.

Earlier this year, the NBA was able to finish the regular season and playoffs with 22 teams at a quarantined site in Orlando, but teams will be traveling for games during the 2020-21 season. Fans won’t be allowed at games to start the season, and the NBA has installed a detailed protocol to prepare teams for potential coronavirus outbreaks.

The NBA season usually starts in October, but the pandemic pushed the start back to December 22. So far, the NBA has only released the first half of the season schedule in order to account for potential conflicts and other issues that may crop up during the winter. The NBA Playoffs typically begin in April, with the finals ending in June.

Updated on 12/23/2020 by Kevin Webb: This article has been revised with details for the 2020-21 NBA season.

How to watch the 2020-21 NBA regular season

The NBA season began on December 22; games are broadcast on ESPN, TNT, ABC, NBA TV and local team affiliates. You can stream games via the ESPN app, NBA.com, TNT.com, ABC.com, or ABC app if you have an authenticated pay-TV provider with access to those channels. 

Live TV streaming services also offer select NBA games, including platforms like Sling TV, AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV, Fubo TV, and YouTube TV.

AT&T TV is one of the most comprehensive options for streaming the NBA season. The service includes ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV under its Choice plan for $65 a month. As part of a limited-time offer, AT&T TV is even including NBA League Pass Premium when you sign up for its Choice plan or above. NBA League Pass Premium offers access to live, out-of-market regular season games.

YouTubeTV also offers ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV for $65 a month, providing full access to all of the major broadcast networks that show NBA games.

Meanwhile, Sling TV includes ESPN and TNT as part of its Orange plan for $30 a month. Subscribers can add NBA TV via the Sling Sports Extra package for an additional $10 a month. Alternatively, you can add NBA League Pass to an Orange membership for an extra $29 a month. On the downside, Sling does not include ABC. 

Hulu + Live TV features access to ESPN, TNT, and ABC for $65 a month. However, NBA TV is not offered.

FuboTV includes ESPN, ABC, and NBA TV for $80 a month under its Elite plan, but TNT is not currently available.

You can also sign up to stream the NBA TV channel directly for $7 per month or $60 per year.

What is NBA League Pass?

NBA League Pass is also available as a subscription service on its own. League Pass gives you access to hundreds of NBA games, including ones that are outside of your local TV market. With that said, local blackouts apply, and League Pass does not include games that are nationally televised.

You can pay $120 to watch one team’s games all year, or $200 to access every team. The commercial free League Pass Premium costs $250 for the season. League Pass also allows monthly payments starting at $18, but you’ll end up paying almost twice as much as the annual cost if you pay monthly all season.

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