The 2020 NBA playoffs are more reminiscent of the college format than ever, complete with surprising upsets and a neutral home floor in Orlando’s bubble, and now it’s down to the final four teams. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics escaped elimination on Friday to force a Game 6 against the Miami Heat, led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. In tonight’s game the Los Angeles Lakers will look to finish off the Denver Nuggets and become the first of the four to reach the NBA Finals. For Lakers Star LeBron James, a win tonight would deliver a remarkable tenth finals appearance in his 16-year NBA career.
Here’s the schedule for the weekend.
Saturday, Sept. 26
- Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets (Game 5, LAL leads 3-1), 9:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. PT) on TNT
Sunday, Sept. 27
- Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat (Game 6, MIA leads 3-2), 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT) on ESPN
Looking to watch the NBA playoffs without cable? We have you covered below.
Read more: NFL streaming: Best ways to watch the 2020 football season live without cable
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. 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
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.
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 $65-per-month Family 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 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 four remain in the fight for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
- Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat
- Los Angeles Lakers
- 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.
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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.
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.
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