How to watch the NBA Playoffs

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Sixteen teams take part in the NBA playoffs each year, with only one crowned the league champion. The best-of-seven tournament takes place after the NBA’s usual season and sees the top teams from the East and West conference compete.

Over the course of four rounds, the league’s fiercest players battle it out on the court. For almost two decades, ABC has been the channel to catch every game in the Playoffs. But avid basketball fans can also watch some of the action on ESPN, NBA TV and TNT.

Read on for all the ways you can watch the NBA Playoffs online.

When are the 2020 NBA Playoffs?

The first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs was set to kickstart on April 18, with the conference finals scheduled to take place in the middle of May. (June 4 was the date for the NBA finals.) But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire competition has been postponed and is set to restart beginning on August 17. Here’s how to watch all the games once things get back on track.

Playoff coverage is split across four channels. Some first-round games will be shown on NBA TV. ESPN will air the Western Conference finals, TNT has the Eastern Conference finals and ABC will broadcast the NBA finals.

The first-round playoff matchups were announced before the postponement. This is what they would have looked like:

Eastern Conference

  • Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic
  • Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
  • Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
  • Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Western Conference

  • Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
  • Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks
  • Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets
  • Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

In 2019, the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA championship. But the Lakers, Clippers and Bucks have all been touted as potential 2020 winners.

Live TV streaming services for the NBA Playoffs

To watch the NBA Playoffs without cable, you’ll want to look for a streaming service that offers all four networks: ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. (If ABC’s a dealbreaker, make sure your chosen service provides the channel in your area.)

You can also access some NBA TV games through the official NBA app. Certain content, like stats, can be viewed for free, but full games will cost you. You can choose to pay monthly or annually, or for just one game. Monthly prices are $17.99 for one team and $28.99 for all teams. Annually, it’s $119.99 for one team and $249.99 for all teams. There’s also the option to pay a little more for ad-free viewing.

TNT and ESPN also have apps, but you’ll need a cable subscription or eligible streaming service account to watch Playoff games.

Here’s a quick rundown of the streaming services to choose from:

AT&T TV Now

To get all four channels on AT&T TV Now, you’ll have to opt for one of the most expensive plans. The Xtra package provides more than 105 channels for $124/mo., while the Ultimate plan offers over 125 channels for $135/mo. Each plan comes with an impressive amount of cloud DVR storage — 500 hours — and 3 simultaneous streams. Try AT&T TV Now for free for a week. Visit our AT&T TV Now review to read more.

Hulu + Live TV

The only channel that Hulu doesn’t offer is NBA TV. But ABC, ESPN and TNT can all be yours with one of Hulu’s live TV packages. There are two options: a $53.99/mo. live TV-only plan and a $54.99/mo. plan that also gives you access to Hulu’s on-demand catalog. The service also lets you follow your favorite NBA teams and will notify you when their games are about to start.

If you’re worried about missing any Playoff action, you can record up to 50 hours of games. For an extra $9.99/mo., you can get 200 hours of storage. Plus, Hulu offers two simultaneous streams for free. A further $9.99/mo. will give you an unlimited number of streams. A seven-day free trial is available, but this only applies to the $54.99/mo. plan. Visit our Hulu Live review to read more.

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Sling TV

NBA TV can be found in Sling TV’s Sports Extra package. This will cost an extra $5/mo. and also comes with beIN Sports, ESPN Bases Loaded, NFL RedZone and NHL Network. Sling TV’s Blue plan features TNT but doesn’t provide access to ESPN or ABC. Sling Orange has ESPN and TNT, but doesn’t carry ESPN or ABC. Sling Orange offers 32 channels, and the Blue plan gives you 47.

Each plan comes with 10 hours of DVR storage, which can be increased to 50 hours for a further $5/mo. You’ll also get three simultaneous streams with Sling Blue, but only one stream with Sling Orange. (If you want four streams, you’ll have to opt for Sling’s combined Orange + Blue package which costs $45/mo.) Sling TV gives new subscribers a $10 discount on their first month of service. Visit our Sling TV review to read more.

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Sign up for the Orange or Blue Sling TV packages, or get them both to access 50+ channels. Use the add-ons to customize your streaming experience!

YouTube TV

YouTube TV offers all four NBA Playoffs channels for one price: $49.99/mo. Sports fans will be grateful for the unlimited DVR storage, and the fact recordings can be kept for up to nine months. Streams can be viewed on a maximum of three devices at once. Again, ABC may not be available in your area. However, YouTube TV does offer the network in the majority of markets. Try it for free for a week. Visit our YouTube TV review to read more.

The takeaway

The NBA Playoffs are a must-watch event for any basketball enthusiast. Although games tend to be split across multiple networks, investing in a live TV streaming service is the easiest and cheapest way to ensure you’ll catch every shot.

Lauren Sharkey

Watch the NBA