How to Watch the NBA Playoffs Without Cable

How to Watch the NBA Playoffs Without Cable

Forget the regular season. Now is the time to focus on what really matters in the NBA: the thrilling postseason and the epic NBA Finals. You know the favorites, you know the underdogs, and you who you want to see lift the trophy (and who you don’t). But do you know how to watch the NBA playoffs without cable?

It’s okay if you don’t because we’re here to show you. Below, we’ll lay out the channels we need to get in order to watch every NBA playoff game live, and then we’ll show you how to access NBA playoff live streams using services and techniques that are perfectly legal. Are you ready? Let’s find out how to watch the NBA playoffs without cable.

What Channels Are NBA Playoff Games On?

First things first: what channels are we trying to get here, anyway?

The places to turn to for live NBA playoff games are ESPN and its fellow Disney-owned channels. In addition to ESPN, you can find key games on ABC, TNT, and ESPN2. The NBA has kept a few games to itself, too, and those will air on the league’s official network, NBA TV.

So how can we get our hands on ESPN, ABC, TNT, ESPN2, and NBA TV? No worries: we have the answer.

How to Watch the NBA Playoffs Online and Over the Air Without Cable

ABC is the only channel airing NBA playoff games this year that is a broadcast network (“broadcast” means that it’s available over the air via an antenna). That means the only way to get the rest of the gang – ESPN, TNT, ESPN2, and NBA TV – is to use a “multichannel TV service” like cable. We say “like cable,” but we’d strongly suggest you not actually use cable, because cable stinks.

Instead, use the newest and best form of multichannel TV service: the skinny bundle, or live TV streaming service. Services like these are cheaper than cable, and they also offer some very appealing free trial periods (more on those below, along with links for you to sign up for them). The channel bundles are smaller (they’re “skinny bundles,” after all), but the prices much lower. And since these skinny bundle services stream online, they can help you watch the NBA playoffs without cable on a wide range of different devices, from smartphones to streaming boxes and smart TVs.

We’ll cover the best skinny bundle options below, and we’ll also touch on what you need to know about free over-the-air TV. Here’s how to watch NBA playoff games online without cable (and over the air, too)!


Watch NBA Playoffs without cable: DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW, AT&T’s take on the live TV streaming service, offers a few different bundles that range from leaner and cheaper to not-so-skinny and a little less cheap. If you sign up for DIRECTV NOW’s very cheapest bundle (the $35-per-month “Live a Little” package), you’ll gain live streams of ABC (in select markets), ESPN, TNT, and ESPN2. For NBA TV, though, you’ll have to take a couple of steps up to the “Go Big” package, which will run you $60 per month. You can get either package for free for a week by signing up for DIRECTV NOW’s free trial offer, which you can access via the link below.

Try DIRECTV NOW for free

Hulu with Live TV

Watch NBA Playoffs without cable: Hulu with Live TV

Hulu with Live TV is, of course, the skinny bundle service from established on-demand streaming brand Hulu. Hulu’s take on the skinny bundle comes as a one-size-fits all $39.99 per month base package. That one size will fit NBA playoff fans just fine, because Hulu’s base package includes ABC (in select markets), ESPN, TNT, and TNT. Only NBA TV is missing, and that makes Hulu with Live TV a pretty complete way to watch the NBA playoffs and NBA Finals without cable. You can try out Hulu with Live TV for free for a week – the link to the free trial is just below.

Try Hulu with Live TV for free

PlayStation Vue

Watch NBA Playoffs without cable: PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue is Sony’s skinny bundle, which is why it shares a name with a gaming system you may play NBA 2K on. Whether you’re watching on a PlayStation 4, an iPhone, a Roku smart TV, or one of the many other platforms that PlayStation Vue supports, you’ll find plenty of NBA playoffs live streams. In fact, PlayStation Vue is one of the best ways to watch NBA playoff games without cable: it’s cheapest bundle, the $39.99-per-month “Access,” includes live streams of ABC (in select markets), ESPN, TNT, and ESPN2. To get NBA TV as well, just bump up to the next-smallest package: “Core,” which costs a still-very-reasonable $44.99 per month. You can give PlayStation Vue a test drive by clicking on the link below and signing up for its five-day free trial.

Try PlayStation Vue for free

Sling TV

Watch NBA Playoffs without cable: Sling TV

Sling TV might be the single best way to watch the NBA playoffs without cable this years. It’s also a kind of unique skinny bundle. Sling TV isn’t into the tiered model used by many of its competitors. It prefers to let customers customize their skinny bundle. Start with Sling Orange ($20 per month), Sling Blue ($25 per month), or both ($40 per month), then add one channels in small chunks by grabbing “Extras” – little add-on bundles that usually add $5 or $10 to your monthly bill. Here’s the magic formula for maximum NBA playoff action: Start with Sling Orange, which will get you live streams of ESPN, TNT, and ESPN2. Then add Broadcast Extra ($5 per month, available only for Sling Orange) to get ABC (in select markets). Sports Extra (another $5 per month for the version of the extra that builds on Sling Orange) will bring NBA TV into the fold, giving you a live stream of every single NBA playoff game for a total of just $30 per month. And that’s after you enjoy everything for free for a week, courtesy of Sling TV’s free trial! Click the link below to sign up for the free trial.

Try Sling TV for free

Free Over-the-Air TV

Watch NBA Playoffs without cable: free over-the-air TV

As we mentioned earlier, most of the channels that air NBA playoff games are not available over the air. But ABC is available over the air in a lot of areas, and that’s crucial. ABC will have some of the best games of the playoffs this year, and it’s one of the channels that skinny bundles can only make available in some markets. It’s well worth investing in an over-the-air antenna if you want to watch the NBA playoffs without cable. Besides, an antenna is a worthwhile investment for year-round viewing: you’ll get major networks, PBS, and more. You can watch NFL games in the off-season and then catch regular-season matchups next season on ABC. What’s not to love?

Check out free over-the-air TV

Can I watch NBA Playoffs on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?

You want to watch the NBA playoffs without cable, but that doesn’t mean that you want to watch every game on your phone. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to get the services listed above onto your favorite TV.

DIRECTV NOW, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV each have great apps for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast devices. As for Android TV – the platform used by some Sony smart TVs, among other devices – you can grab apps for that platform from fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV.

Of course, sometimes you actually do want to get your NBA playoffs live stream onto a smaller screen. No problem there: DIRECTV NOW, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV each offer a web app for your computer as well as mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices.

Finally, we should mention that Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV both have apps for Xbox One, while PlayStation Vue has one for PlayStation 4.

That’s a lot of platform support from a lot of different services, so you should have no trouble finding a way to watch the NBA playoffs without cable. Scroll back up, grab a free trial or two, buy an antenna, and get ready to enjoy a whole lot of playoff action without ever having to go crawling back to your cable or satellite provider. You’re free, baby.

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About the Author

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on and his tweets at @stephenlovely.

2 Comments on "How to Watch the NBA Playoffs Without Cable"

  1. Charlie Palta | May 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Reply

    In Canada none of those services are available. So… What to do? 🤣

  2. Judith Nicholls | May 31, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Reply

    Antennas don’t look like that any more… I’m constantly surprised that people don’t know about OTA TV any more at all! A whole generation, apparently. HD antennas work very well and are very small and don’t live on towers (most of the time), and if you are fairly close to the source, indoor antennas may work.

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