Who will join Miami, Boston and the Lakers in the final four of the 2019/20 NBA playoffs? We'll know soon enough, with this week heralding the arrival of the Conference Finals as the league's four best teams compete for the right to play for the biggest prize of all. Read on for how to watch the NBA playoffs online and catch every game no matter where you are right now - or just straight to our Celtics vs Heat live stream guide for full details of tonight's biggest game.
Round 1 of the 2020 NBA playoffs started on Monday, August 17 and is made up of eight best-of-seven series. Conference semi-finals began on August 30, and will be followed by conference finals on September 15 and, ultimately, the NBA Finals on September 30. Full TV and streaming details are below - but you can jump out to an early lead by grabbing this ExpressVPN deal with 3-months FREE to ensure you can watch your team wherever you are this August.
The playoff format looks much the same as it has in previous years, with eight teams each advancing from the Eastern and Western Conference. Iconic franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are currently in their respective Conference Finals, but East favorites the Milwaukee Bucks and reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo have been dumped out by surprise package the Miami Heat - just before Boston showed the grit and determination it needs to win it all this year, gutting it out over the reigning champion Toronto Raptors in an epic seven game semi-final series.
As they were in the eight 'seeding games' that represented the end of the 2019/20 NBA regular season, all the action is taking place without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida - part of Disney World, yes, but certainly no holiday given the circumstances. Or what's now at stake for basketball's best teams and players.
Like a LeBron James pass, the action is coming at you slick and fast during the first round, with multiple games taking place every day and tip-offs scheduled from the early afternoon into the evening. If history teaches us anything, it's that the postseason drama we've all been waiting for is finally here, as the NBA's best teams compete to swipe the crown off the Raptors' heads.
With the league having stopped play all the way back in March due to Covid-19, the playoffs have certainly been a long time coming, with even this summer's seeding games seeming like a mere appetizer in large parts. But now it's here, so just kick back and follow our guide as we explain how to watch the NBA online and live stream the 2020 playoffs from anywhere in the world right now.
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How to watch NBA blackout games and stream from abroad
Scroll down for a guide to NBA live streaming services all over the world, but first, know that if you can't watch an NBA game on your usual TV channel or streaming service, it might be due to a coverage blackout (in the US) or a geo-blocking restriction (in international markets).
Both can stop you from watching the coverage you want and most likely pay for, especially with many games being shown on national TV for the remainder of the season and global travel slowly starting to resume after the coronavirus pandemic.
When either of these are the case, the simplest and most reliable solution is to use a VPN service to change your IP address to a difference location. This will generally let you tune in to your local coverage, just as you would from home, and means you don't have to trawl the sketchier corners of the internet for an illegal stream.
Our software experts have test more than 100 VPNs and it's ExpressVPN that comes out on top. There are plenty of reasons why, but the main factors are its speed, security and simplicity to use - you can get started in no time at all.
We also like the fact that you can try it out effectively for free, thanks to its 30 day money-back guarantee. You can use it with loads of devices at once including Smart TVs, Fire TV Stick, PC, Mac, iPhone, Android phone, iPads, tablets etc. And if you subscribe to ExpressVPN now, you'll also get 49% off the usual price as well as 3 months extra FREE.
VPNs are ridiculously easy to set up and use and aren't just for watching the NBA abroad - they're a great first line of defence for your online activity and many people use them to get around other geo-blocked websites or to access foreign Netflix content.View Deal
NBA live stream: how to watch the 2020 playoffs in the US today
In order to watch the NBA on TV in the US, you’ll need either cable TV - or access to a good streaming service.
The playoffs mostly feature nationally televised games, which are aired on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV. While regional sports networks (RSNs) still get a slice of the action, they're not nearly as important as they are in the regular season.
Still, covering all your bases can be tricky, especially if you don't want the commitment (or expense) of cable TV. However, with access to RSNs less significant in the playoffs, you can watch nearly all of the NBA playoffs action with a single, affordable over-the-top streaming provider - Sling TV.
Its Orange package costs just $30 a month and gets you ESPN and TNT, while a $10 p/m Sports Extra add-on nets you NBA TV. This combo will give you an NBA live stream for most playoff games, as ABC only has the rights to a handful - just FOUR in the entire first round. Plus, Sling offers a FREE TRIAL period so you can check it out for yourself - and unlike cable, cancel your subscription at any time.
Alternatively, YouTube TV offers all four channels - ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBA TV - but it's not the cheapest option around at $64.99 a month. Those going online-only can also consider the merits of an NBA TV Pass , which is just $19.99 for an annual subscription and gets you access to all nationally televised games - though it is subject to blackout restrictions, when they apply. Which means you'll also need a VPN for a complete solution if you go this route.
Other options include (all prices listed are per month):
- Hulu from $54.99 - Its Hulu + Live TV offering is a good place for NBA fans to turn as it includes ESPN, TNT and ABC, plus many regional sports networks including those run through Fox and NBC. However, NBA TV isn't on the the menu, so it falls just short of being the full works. Free trial.
- AT&T TV Now from $50 - AT&T Now’s Plus package gives you access to ESPN, TNT and ABC but does not offer NBA TV. By upgrading to the service’s $70 per month Max package, you can also get access to regional coverage including that provided by Fox and NBC Sports. Free trial.
- FuboTV from $54.99 - Not the best choice for basketball fans given the price and the stage of the season we're at, FuboTV is a sports-focused streaming service that gives you access to TNT and NBA TV, plus a number of local networks including those managed by Fox Sports and NBC. Free trial.
How to watch the NBA: live stream basketball and the 2020 playoffs in the UK
UK basketball fans can watch the NBA and live stream this season's biggest playoff games (as well as those of the WNBA) on Sky Sports - available on Sky of course, as well as with BT and Virgin Media, TV packages.
Games are generally shown live every day, with tip-off times ranging from a positively benign 6pm BST to a less-than-sociable 3am.
Not interested in the commitment or cost of a full-fat Sky Sports subscription, but still want to watch the NBA live in the UK? Don’t worry, as you can also purchase a Now TV Sky Sports Pass. This will get you access to all 11 Sky Sports channels, so you'll be able to watch loads of football, cricket, golf, F1 and more in addition to the NBA.
Pricing starts at £9.99 for a day's access, which is great if you just want to catch one or two big games - though we highly recommend the £33.99 Monthly Pass for most fans, as it's much better value. Plus, it lets you stream on three screens simultaneously, so if you split it with friends or family, it works out at just over a tenner each.
Your final option is the NBA League Pass, which is available in the UK and will get every single game left in the 2019/20 season (including the playoffs and Finals) for a one-off payment of £42.99.
How to watch the NBA playoffs: live stream every 2020 round 1 series in Canada
If you're a Canadian basketball fan, then you probably (but not necessarily) want to know how to watch the Raptors, last year's champs.
SportsNet generally dominates Raptors coverage, while TSN is better for watch other NBA teams and playoff games live. If you have them as part of your cable package, then it's breeze: you just go to the network's website, log-in with details of your TV provider, and then you're free to stream away at no extra cost.
Don't have these channels? Not to worry. It's just as easy to get an NBA live stream online.
You can subscribe to SportsNet Now for CA$19.99 per month and get you select coverage of Raptors games, marquee matchups from around the league, and NBA playoffs action. It's also showing every Bluejays game and the NHL playoffs in their entirety, making it a good place to start in the Great White North.
There's also a streaming-only offering from TSN, where a subscription will set you back $19.99 a month, while fans of other teams should look no further than NBA League Pass - available in Canada as it is nearly everywhere else in the world.
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NBA live stream 2020: how to watch the playoffs online in Australia
If you plan on watching the NBA on TV this season in Australia, then you’ll need a cable package that gives you access to ESPN, as the network owns the country’s NBA broadcast rights. You can get a Foxtel subscription with the sports package included that will allow you to watch all the season's remaining televised games on ESPN, while free-to-air broadcaster SBS may also be showing select matchups for free at weekends.
Don’t want to sign up for Foxtel just to watch the NBA this season? Then great value over-the-top service Kayo Sports has you covered as it will allow you to stream all of ESPN’s NBA coverage for way less than a pay TV package. It costs between $25 and $35 a month, depending on which option, you choose but new customers will be able to test it out for themselves thanks to the service’s 14-day FREE TRIAL.
NBA League Pass is also available in Australia and is a great option for true NBA fanatics who want to watch every game of their favourite team and other action from around the league that might not always be on ESPN's broadcast schedule.
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NBA League Pass: the best way to live stream the NBA online?
As you can see, there are a number of options for streaming the NBA online. But one that keeps cropping up is NBA League Pass, the league's official streaming service.
If you want to follow your favorite team all season long or even if you want to keep up with every team in the league, it's a great way to watch the NBA from all over the world.
In the US, an NBA League Pass subscription is now down to $28.99 for the rest of the season, but this doesn't include any nationally televised games (shown on ESPN, ABC, NBA TV or TNT) - including those aired during the playoffs. For the full works, you'll need to add NBA TV, priced separately at $19.99 for the rest of the campaign - so $49 for the full works. You can also upgrade to League Pass Premium to cut out commercials for $39.99, or bundle Premium with NBA TV for $59.98.
However, at this stage in the season most fans would only need an NBA TV subscription to follow all the 2020 playoff action, as it's the one that gets you nationally televised games.
Note that NBA League Pass and NBA TV subscriptions are subject to blackout rules, meaning that if you live in the same area as your favorite team, you won't be able to watch them - unless you utilize the VPN workaround as explained above, of course.
The service offers a different packages for international markets, but as an example, in the UK, a flat fee of £42.99 gets you an NBA live stream for every single game remaining in the 2019/20 regular season - seeding games, playoffs, NBA Finals and anything else that happens to crop up. Obviously, local blackout restrictions don't apply internationally, either, so it's a pretty good offer - and one that's far more straightforward than what's on offer in the States.
As ever, if you're out of the country you subscribed to NBA League Pass in, it's likely you can use a VPN to get around these restrictions - based on comprehensive testing, we rate ExpressVPN as the best and it offers a free trial so you can check it out, no strings attached.
Who won the NBA finals in 2019?
The Toronto Raptors are this year's defending champions, having dethroned the Golden State Warriors in 2019. In a scintillating NBA Finals, the Raptors sealed the deal in game 6 of the best of seven series, beating the Warriors 114-110.
The game 6 victory was thanks to a fantastic all-round team effort that featured 22 points from (then) star player Kawhi Leonard, 26 points from guard Kyle Lowry and a huge 26 point, 10 rebound effort from forward Pascal Siakam. It represented the first time in Raptors franchise history that the team had won the NBA championship and it's safe to say Toronto partied hard that night.
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