How to watch the NBA playoffs without a cable subscription

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  • 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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