How to Livestream the NBA Playoffs (2021)

Don't miss a moment of action on the court even if you've cut the cord

The NBA playoffs are when the 16 best teams in the league face off in an exciting clash to see who will emerge victoriously. Since the individual games are scattered across four networks, we did the legwork to find the best ways for streaming the NBA playoffs to your computer, phone, set-top box, or game console.

The 2020-2021 NBA Season kicks off on Dec. 22, 2020, at 7 p.m. EST on TNT. Visit ESPN for the final playoff matchups.

How to Watch NBA Playoffs Games

If you want to watch every game in the NBA playoffs, or at least have the option, then these are the channels that you'll need to have access to:

  • ABC: For the 17th consecutive year, ABC has the sole rights to broadcast the NBA Finals. If you want to watch the finals, you need access to ABC.
  • ESPN: ESPN has the rights to the Western Conference Finals. If your team is playing in the Western Conference Finals, you need to prioritize ESPN.
  • TNT: The Eastern Conference Finals' rights are owned by TNT. If your team is set to play in the Eastern Conference Finals, prioritize TNT.
  • NBA TV: Some first-round games will air on NBA TV. If you don't want to miss anything, it's worth finding a package that includes this network.
  • Regional sports networks: These networks have the rights to broadcast first-round games that involve local teams. If your local team makes it to the first round, you can count on your regional sports network. The exception is that if a game is broadcast on ABC, it won't be available on your regional sports network.
Sports fan streaming NBA playoffs

Lifewire / Alison Czinkota

Dates and times are finalized just prior to the playoffs. There are provisions for each round to start a couple of days earlier, depending on when the previous round finishes. Check local listings for specific days and times for each game.

How to Access NBA Playoff Livestreams From ABC, TNT, ESPN, and NBA TV

Since individual games will appear on four networks, the best way for cord-cutters to catch the NBA playoffs is through a live TV streaming television service. These streaming services offer a direct replacement for cable or satellite television because they allow you to stream live television over the internet. All you need is a computer, a phone, a streaming device or service like Roku, or a game console that's connected to high-speed internet.

While these services do the same thing, all offer different combinations of channels. That means some of them offer access to every NBA playoff game, some only give you access to one set of conference games, and others have some combination of the two.

These services offer some type of free trial, so you can start streaming the NBA playoffs without paying anything upfront. Here are your options, including the relevant channels each offer:

 Service ESPN TNT NBA TV ABC
YouTube TV Yes Yes Yes Most markets
Hulu With Live TV Yes Yes No Most markets
AT&T TV Yes Yes Yes (Some plans) Most markets
Sling TV Yes Yes Add-on Limited markets
fuboTV No Yes Yes Most markets

For most people, YouTube TV represents the best option for streaming NBA playoff games. It includes ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, and also has ABC in most markets.

AT&T TV Now is a viable option as well, but the channels you need are only included with more expensive plans. Sling TV is also a fine option if you live in one of the select markets where they offer ABC as an add-on.

The worst options for streaming the NBA playoffs are fuboTV, since ESPN isn't included, and Hulu with Live TV because NBA TV isn't included.

Since the NBA finals are only available on ABC, and the availability of ABC differs from one service to the next depending on the specific deals each one has signed, it's important to check each service to see if ABC is available in your ZIP code.

While YouTube TV is the best option for most people, check to make sure that YouTube TV offers ABC in your zip code.

Livestream the NBA Playoffs on Your Phone, Tablet, or Streaming Device

If you want to watch the NBA playoffs on your mobile device, set-top box, or game console, here are the apps you'll need:

Use Ace Stream to Watch the NBA Playoffs for Free

If you can't use any of the official sources above, the next best option for streaming NBA playoff games is a program called Ace Stream. This software is a media player. It streams audio and video instead of playing files that you downloaded.

Since Ace Stream relies on streams provided by other users, you won't always get the best quality of audio or video. It can also be difficult to find streams for some events, although the NBA playoffs are popular enough that streams are usually available.

After you finish installing Ace Stream, the last step is to find a content ID for the NBA playoff game you want to stream. The content ID is an address that the player uses to find the stream. One good place to find content IDs, and links to other NBA playoff streams, is the NBA Streams subreddit. You can also find similar content on Discord.

The next best way to find a content ID is to use your favorite search engine. For instance, to find NBA playoff streams, you would search for 2021 NBA playoffs Ace Stream content ID.

Ace Stream content IDs are free. Don't pay anyone for a content ID, and be careful when visiting sites that offer content IDs. Don't click suspicious links or ads, and consider installing a good ad-blocker.

Free Online Sports Websites to Stream the NBA Playoffs

When all else fails, you may have to resort to unofficial free online sports streaming websites. These sites don't officially have the rights to broadcast NBA games, or any other games, so they link to free streams instead.

If you live in an area where you can't sign up for any of our recommended streaming services, or you aren't able to access ABC due to there being no ABC affiliate in your area, this may be your only option.

Here are the names of some free sports streaming sites that usually provide NBA playoff games:

  • Stream2Watch
  • FromHots
  • Bosscast
  • Cricfree

Sites that provide free access to sports streams are often supported by intrusive or malicious ads that can install malware on your computer. Consider installing a good ad-blocker plug-in.

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