This year, the NBA playoff race came down to the wire, with several seeds only being decided on the final night of games. Now, the seeds are set, the matchups decided, and all that remains is for 16 of the best basketball teams in the world to slaughter one another in pursuit of the Larry O’Brien trophy. This has been one of the most topsy turvy season in NBA history; some seemingly great teams fell apart (the Houston Rockets), teams that were supposed to be awful rose up (the Portland Trailblazers), and the Golden State Warriors did the unthinkable and broke the ‘96 Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 record, finishing 73-9. The regular season may have seemed like a nonstop river of drama, but the floodgates will truly open this weekend, when the first round of the playoffs begins.
Related: NBA airs live game in 4k Ultra HD for the first time
Unlike in the NFL, postseason matches in the NBA are decided by best of seven series. Teams are sorted by conference, and eventually the best teams in the East and West will meet up for the final round. The NBA has been more in touch with the rise of streaming than other sports leagues, and as such fans will have plenty of options to stream games online. Here is what to look out for in the NBA playoffs, and how to watch them.
ESPN’s companion video client WatchESPN gives NBA fans live access to any playoff game set to stream on either ESPN or ESPN 2. The service does require users to sign-in with a compatible cable or satellite subscription, hindering access to those who’ve completely gone off the grid. Nevertheless, those who possess the required credentials — or know someone who does — can gain access to the exact same broadcast as those who choose to watch on television. Basically this means you won’t miss out on hearing Jeff Van Gundy go on about fired coaches, how to stop LeBron James, and his disdain for the Chicago Bulls’ management team.
Similar to WatchESPN, TNT offers online streaming of whatever currently airs on either of its TNT West, or TNT East broadcasts. Like ESPN’s app, TNT requires users to tether a compatible cable or satellite subscription to the website in order to view the content (i.e. NBA playoff games). Simply enter your cable or satellite provider’s sign-in information when the site prompts you to gain access to both of TNT’s available streams. With TNT slated to air the lion’s share of NBA playoff action, we recommend bookmarking this streaming option for quick access.
The folks over at TNT not only offer a resource for streaming NBA action, but they also provide fans of the game an enhanced way to catch each upcoming matchup with TNT Overtime. With access to the site requiring only an Internet connection, TNT Overtime offers users live playoff action, the ability to view multiple camera angles, and adds an interactive touch by including what’s trending on Twitter. Though it doesn’t offer any commentary from the television broadcast, TNT Overtime is a great way to follow the NBA playoffs without breaking the bank for a cable subscription.
The new cord-cutter’s special from Dish Network provides a great way to watch the NBA playoffs live without a cable or satellite subscription. Subscribers to Sling TV’s introductory $20 per month package get channels such as TNT, TBS, and ESPN, granting even basic users access to a host of NBA playoff action.
Microsoft’s Xbox One recently gained access to a Sling TV application, and DISH Network is currently offering a free month trial of everything the streaming service offers. Though the trial lasts just 30 days, it’s more than worth checking out given the sheer amount of content users have access to. Do keep in mind the service requires physical cancellation before the 30-day trial ends, otherwise you’ll notice a one-month charge for $20 on your next bank statement.
Like Dish Network, Sony recently joined the cordcutting revolution and now offers subscriptions for its own version of an online streaming service. Called PlayStation Vue, subscribers to the service gain broadcast access to channels like NBC, Fox, CBS, TNT, and a host of other top-tier networks. However, Vue does boast two glaring caveats in which it doesn’t yet have a partnership with ABC — meaning no access to ESPN or the NBA Finals — and costs subscribers $50 per month for access. On the plus side, unlike Sling TV, Playstation Vue offers a cloud DVR system that saves content for 28 days.
An incredible resource for information about virtually everything, Reddit touts more than enough NBA-specific information to satisfy any and all basketball fans. With playoff coverage on tap for the next month and a half, expect loads of content related to each matchup including interviews, game videos, injury news, and hilarious memes. Reddit’s loyal user base generates the site’s wealth of content. On game days, you’ll find plenty of NBA-themed stories, chat threads, and even alternative streaming sites.
While Reddit is a fantastic resource for getting your NBA fill, it’s entirely too easy to waste entire weekends poking around the rest of the site. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Though not a video option, ESPN regularly offers its signature play-by-play Gamecast presentation for each playoff matchup. Simply head over to the NBA’s scoreboard page via the ESPN website, click the game you’d like to “watch,” and wait for the desired Gamecast window to open. This feature shows real-time events, including every basket, dunk, foul, and James Harden flop. Gamecast also lists each team’s stats, highlight videos, and what’s trending via the social media site Twitter.
Questionable streaming sites
Keep in mind most of the illegal streaming options available come loaded with unwanted spam and a barrage of pop-up windows. Leaning on such links tends to be frustrating, particularly when it comes to finding quality video and audio feeds with little buffering.
Again, you must keep in mind many of these sites illegally broadcast the content, and your computer remains at a high risk of malware when using them. Nevertheless, you’ll notice the deep selection of links available to you once you find an adequate streaming site on the Web. Many sites — though technically legal given they only provide links to various broadcast streams instead of broadcasting the copyrighted content — fall within the gray areas of the law.
Note: As a rule of thumb, never click on any link which asks you to download any HD Players, update your streaming software, or to install any “required” media players. These are often just spam links that could infect your computer with viruses.