The 2021 NBA playoffs heat up this Memorial Day weekend as first-round series reach their decisive stages. The best teams in basketball are finally playing high-stakes games in front of thousands of fans at actual home arenas, for a level of intensity and excitement that was sorely missed during the bubble of 2020.
Sunday starts with a pair of huge Game 4 matchups on ABC. The Knicks try to find an answer for Trae Young as they square off against the Hawks in Atlanta at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET), followed by the Suns at the Lakers live from Staples Center at 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET). The two later games on TNT feature the Nets against Jayson Tatum and the Celtics at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET) and the Clippers vs. the Mavericks at 6:30 p.m. PT (9:30 p.m. ET).
Here’s everything you need to know to watch live all weekend, no cable required.
What’s the schedule for the first round of the NBA playoffs?
The 2021 NBA playoffs started this past weekend and will continue throughout the first half of the summer. The Finals are scheduled to start July 8 and could end as late as July 22. As in past years, each playoff series potentially runs seven games.
Here’s the schedule for the next few days.
Sunday, May 30
- No. 4 New York Knicks at No. 5 Atlanta Hawks, 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on ABC (Hawks lead series 2-1)
- No. 2 Phoenix Suns at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET on ABC (Lakers lead series 2-1)
- No. 2 Brooklyn Nets at No. 7 Boston Celtics, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on TNT (Nets lead series 2-1)
- No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers at No. 5 Dallas Mavericks, 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET on TNT (Mavericks lead series 2-1)
Monday, May 31
- No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers at No. 8 Washington Wizards, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on TNT (76ers lead series 3-0)
- No. 1 Utah Jazz at No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies, 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET on TNT (Jazz lead series 2-1)
Tuesday, June 1
- No. 7 Boston Celtics at No. 2 Brooklyn Nets, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET on TNT (Nets lead series 2-1)
- No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers at No. 3 Denver Nuggets, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET on NBA TV (Series tied 2-2)
- No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 Phoenix Suns, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET on TNT (Lakers lead series 2-1)
Check out the full playoff schedule at NBA.com.
How can I watch the NBA playoffs on TV live without cable?
Four of the five majoroffer ESPN, TNT and ABC (all but Sling TV), but not every service carries your local ABC station, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area. Sling, to its credit, will be simulcasting the games that air on ABC.
If you have FuboTV, you’ll need something else to catch the games on TNT. Getting NBA TV, which will have some coverage as well, may require an additional fee.
Our top picks? For the most complete option — and a better app — check out YouTube TV. If you want to get all the games for the cheapest rate, Sling TV is the pick.
Google’s live TV streaming service offers all the channels you’ll need for the NBA playoffs for $65 per month.
Read our YouTube TV review.
Sling TV’s Orange package offers ESPN and TNT for $35 per month. While it does not carry ABC, Sling says it will simulcast the games that air on ABC through ESPN3. Getting NBA TV, however, requires the additional $11 per month Sports Extra add-on.
Hulu Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and includes three of the channels you’ll need for the NBA Playoffs, with the exception being NBA TV.
Read our Hulu Plus Live TV review.
AT&T TV’s basic Entertainment package costs $70 and carries ABC, ESPN and TNT. To get NBA TV, however, you will need to upgrade to the $85 per month Choice option.
Read our AT&T TV review.
Will fans be allowed at the games?
Whereas the 2020 playoffs took place in a Walt Disney World bubble in Orlando, Florida, the NBA has played its 2020-21 season in regular arenas with fans increasingly coming back to stadiums as local COVID-19 restrictions have eased. Fans are allowed at playoff games this year, though the exact number in each venue will vary.