For the first time since the George W. Bush administration, the NBA Playoffs will begin without LeBron James. He has led his team to the playoffs each of the past 13 seasons and has reached the NBA Finals an astonishing eight straight times. With or without James, the NBA Playoffs remain a star-studded affair.
The defending champion Golden State Warriors, led once again by Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, are the favorites, but a potential second round matchup against league scoring leader James Harden and the Houston Rockets awaits. In the East, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are the top seed, followed by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, and Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.
Here's the cord cutter's guide to watching playoff basketball.
When do the NBA Playoffs begin?
The playoffs tip off on Saturday, April 13.
Which teams are playing in the NBA Playoffs?
Here are the first-round matchups:
- No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 8 Detroit Pistons
- No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 7 Orlando Magic
- No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Nets
- No. 4 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers
- No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers
- No. 2 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs
- No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder
- No. 4 Houston Rockets vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz
How can I watch the NBA Playoffs?
The playoffs are shown across four channels: ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.
WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app along with WatchTNT.com and the WatchTNT app have live streams of the games. To stream games with WatchESPN or WatchTNT, however, you need to log in with a pay TV account. If you don't have a pay TV subscription, then you can watch the games with a .
Other stuff to know about live TV streaming services:
- You'll need a .
- You can watch any of them on TV as long as your smart TV has the service's app. You can also watch on your TV using a media streamer, including Roku, Fire TV, and Chromecast ($55 at eBay).
- You can also watch on phones, tablets and PC browsers. , Android
- You can sign up and cancel anytime, no contract required.
- All of them offer free trial periods, so you can sign up to watch and then cancel.
Streaming services with all four NBA playoff channels
Sling TV ($30)
Sling TV's $25-a-month Blue package includes ESPN and TNT. It also includes ESPN3, which will simulcast the games broadcast on ABC. You'll need to add the $5-a-month Sports Extra package to get NBA TV. (The Blue plan is currently discounted to $15 a month for the first three months.)
YouTube TV ($50)
YouTube TV costs $50 a month and includes ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see to see if a live feed of ABC is available where you live.
PlayStation Vue ($50)
PlayStation Vue's $50-a-month Core plan includes ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. You can see if a live feed of ABC is available in your area here.
Streaming services with only some NBA playoff channels
Hulu with Live TV ($45)
Hulu with Live TV costs $45 a month and includes ABC, ESPN and TNT but not NBA TV. Click the "View all channels in your area" link on its welcome page to see if a live feed of ABC is offered in your ZIP code.
DirecTV Now ($50)
DirecTV Now's $50-a-month Plus package includes ABC, ESPN and TNT but not NBA TV. You can use its channel lookup tool to see if you get a live feed of ABC and in your zip code.