The NBA season, already marked by the upheaval of playing in a bubble in Disney World due to the coronavirus, took an abrupt pause on Aug. 27 as the players boycotted playoff games in protest at the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Games were postponed for three days while the league and the players' association formulated a response. The result was an agreement to form a social justice coalition with coaches and owners, and work to convert arenas into voting locations for the 2020 election.
Last week the Heat eliminated the Bucks and the Celtics sent home the Raptors, setting the stage for a Boston versus Miami conference final in the East that begins this evening. In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers await the winner of tonight's Game 7 between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
For more like this
Subscribe to the CNET Now newsletter for our editors' picks of the most important stories of the day.
Schedule for Tuesday, Sept. 15:
- Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics (Game 1), 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT) on ESPN
- Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers (series tied 3-3), 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) on ESPN
Looking to watch the NBA playoffs without cable? We have you covered below.
When did the 2020 NBA playoffs start?
The NBA playoffs, which follow a traditional seven-game format, began on Aug. 17. All remaining games will be broadcast nationally on either TNT, ESPN or ABC.
Game 7 of the NBA Finals will take place, if necessary, no later than Oct. 13.
How can I watch the NBA playoffs on TV without cable?
As in a regular non-COVID season, Disney-owned ABC and ESPN will broadcast games, with ABC broadcasting the NBA Finals. ESPN is the exclusive TV network for the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals.
AT&T-owned Turner Sports, which runs TNT and "jointly" manages the league's NBA Digital division that includes NBA TV. The network is a close NBA partner and broadcasts several regular-season games weekly as well as the bulk of playoff games. TNT is the exclusive TV network for the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
You can see the NBA's national television schedule here, with games on ABC, ESPN and TNT.
You don't need cable or satellite TV to watch the games on ESPN or TNT. Most of the channels are offered on four of the major live TV streaming services, though not all streaming services offer ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.
Read more: How to cut the cable TV cord in 2020
Carries ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV
YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes all four national channels that carry live NBA games. Read our YouTube TV review.
Sling TV Orange
Carries ESPN, TNT and NBA TV
Sling TV's $30-a-month Orange package includes ESPN and TNT but not ABC. If you want NBA TV you will also need to subscribe to the Sports Extra add-on for an additional $10 per month. Read our Sling TV review.
Hulu with Live TV
Carries ABC, ESPN and TNT
Hulu with Live TV costs $55 a month and includes ESPN and TNT as well as ABC in most areas. It does not, however, carry NBA TV. Read our Hulu with Live TV review.
Carries ABC, ESPN and NBA TV
FuboTV recently added ESPN and ABC, where available, to give it three of the four major channels — ABC, ESPN and NBA TV — if you get the $60-per-month Standard package plus the $6-per-month Fubo Extra add-on (for NBA TV).
TNT is no longer available on FuboTV. Read our FuboTV review.
AT&T TV Now
Carries ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV
AT&T TV Now includes ABC, ESPN and TNT with its $55 per month Plus package, with some regional sports networks, like those in New York and Los Angeles, available in the $80 per month Max offering. NBA TV, however, is not included until you go to the $124-per-month Xtra package. Read our AT&T TV Now review.
Which teams are in?
Sixteen teams qualified for the playoffs and five remain in the fight for the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.
- Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Denver Nuggets
The eliminated teams are all done for the year and are prepping for the offseason and NBA Draft, which will be held on Oct. 16. Better luck next year, Knicks fans.
Which players are sitting out?
Whether from injury, positive COVID-19 tests or any other reason, like concern about getting hurt or catching the coronavirus, several notable players sat out the restart.
- Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
- Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
- DeAndre Jordan (Brooklyn Nets)
- Taurean Prince (Brooklyn Nets)
- Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets)
- Wilson Chandler (Brooklyn Nets)
- Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah Jazz)
- Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks)
- Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Lakers)
- Thabo Sefolosha (Houston Rockets)
- Trevor Ariza (Portland Trail Blazers)
Where are the games being held?
The NBA is using three different venues on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus: the HP Field House, Visa Athletic Center and a site Disney calls The Arena.
The HP Field House has been previously used to host an NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament called the Orlando Invitational. Its next tournament — featuring the likes of Auburn, Michigan State and Gonzaga — is currently set to run Thanksgiving weekend.
- 10 ways to save money on streaming
- How to cut the cable TV cord in 2020
- See more at Streaming TV Insider
Where are the players staying? What do they do when not playing?
The players, team staff and their personnel and families are divided across three different Disney properties: the Grand Destino, the Grand Floridian and the Yacht Club.
The hotels are sorted by team standings, with top seeds like the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors and Clippers staying at the Grand Destino, which opened last year. Teams that were on the playoff bubble — like the Blazers — stayed at Disney's Yacht Club.
As Stadium and The Athletic's Shams Charania notes, when not playing players can attend other games, go to movie screenings and play video games, plus take advantage of pools, trails, barbers, manicurists and pedicurists.
Table tennis is also available, but just singles games. Doubles are not allowed in order to maintain social distancing, as pointed out by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
More for people who want to stream video
- Best streaming devices of 2020
- The best Wi-Fi routers of 2020
- The best internet providers for 2020
- YouTube TV vs. Hulu vs Sling TV vs. Philo vs. FuboTV vs. AT&T TV Now: 100 channels compared
Now playing: Watch this: Ranking 101 US streaming services 13:05 Comments Streaming TV Insider TVs Media Streamers Sports Sling TV Service Disney NBA AT&T YouTube ESPN Notification on Notification off Video games