Every kid dreams of going to Disney World, but the current NBA bubble in Orlando? It's taken the fantasy to a whole new level. Mickey Mouse and all-you-can-eat hoops? Try telling anyone - let alone a child - that isn't living the dream. Of course, the NBA's stay at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex is no holiday, having been brought about by the awful Covid-19 pandemic. But as things start to ease, it's only natural to entertain the idea of what your ideal vacation might look like - and in the meantime, simply great to have basketball back. Follow our guide as we explain how to watch an NBA live stream and catch every game online as basketball's 2019/20 season returns this August.
July 30: NBA regular season
August 17: Playoffs first round
August 25: Draft lottery
August 31: Conference semifinals
September 15: Conference finals
September 30: NBA Finals 2020
Each of the 22 teams remaining - eight have already been eliminated - play a further eight 'seeding games' against opponents prised from their remaining regular season games. These 'seeding games' will ultimately determine who goes to the playoffs and in what order, with the results of the matchups being applied to the existing NBA standings as they stood when the league halted play back in March.
The playoff format looks much the same as it has in previous years, with eight teams each advancing from the Eastern and Western Conference. The usual tie-breakers will be implemented where two teams finish with the same record, but there is one novel addition to the end of this year's season in light of the Covid-19 shutdown.
If the team in 8th place finishes less than four points clear of the team in 9th, a 'play-in tournament' will take place to determine who advances to the playoffs. This is essentially a best-of-two mini-series, meaning that the team in 9th needs to win two games on the trot to qualify for postseason. It may or may not come into play, but it'll make for a nice bit of added drama if it does - at least if you're a neutral or a fan of whoever's in 9th.
Back to things that haven't really changed, and a trip to the 2020 NBA finals still seems to be a two-horse race between the Lakers and Clippers in the West, while in the East it'll take something special from the Raptors, Celtics or Heat to stop the Bucks and 'Greek Freak' Giannis Antetokounmpo - last year's league MVP - from representing the conference this October.
Can't wait for tip-off? Scroll down as our guide explains everything you need to know to get a top-quality NBA live stream and watch basketball online today, no matter where you are 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 League Pass: the best way to live stream the NBA online?
As we're about to explain, 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.
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.
How to watch an NBA live stream 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.
This season's remaining nationally televised games will be aired on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV, while other matchups will exclusively be shown on regional sports networks, so covering all your bases can be tricky if you don't want the commitment (or expense) of cable TV.
As explained above, one place to start is by combining an NBA League Pass with an NBA TV subscription, which can be done for under $50 (for the rest of the season). The only caveat is that in-market games are subject to blackout restrictions, so you'll also need a VPN for a complete solution.
Elsewhere, many over-the-top streaming services will get you access to nearly all of the national NBA coverage around - but only one offers it all and that's YouTube TV.
It's got ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBA TV, as well as a great number of regional sports networks - including those linked to Fox and NBC - so while it's not the cheapest option around at $64.99 a month, it is the easiest way to get everything you need in one place.
However, plenty of other good options existing, including the following. Note that all prices listed are per month.
- Sling TV from $30 - The cheapest way to go if you just want coverage of nationally televised games, Sling TV's Orange package gets you ESPN and TNT while NBA TV will cost you an additional $10 a month for the NBA TV add-on. Regional coverage is extremely limited, though - especially for NBA fans, as Sling doesn't offer ABC or any Fox Sports regional channels. Free trial.
- 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.
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How to watch the NBA: live stream basketball in the UK
UK basketball fans can watch the NBA and live stream this season's biggest 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.
Multiple games will be shown live every day from July 30, 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: live stream games 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 and TSN are sharing the rights to the rest of the Raptors games this season, and 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.
NBA live stream 2020: how to watch 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.
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.