How to Live Stream the NBA Playoffs & Finals without Cable on Your Apple TV

The 2018/19 NBA season is over, but don't worry, the 2019 NBA postseason games aren't far behind; the NBA Playoffs begin on April 13! Whether you're cutting the cable cord for the first time, or looking for new ways to watch an NBA Playoffs live stream, there are a lot of options to research. You might choose an over-the-air antenna, a live-streaming provider, or a combination of both, but there are several pieces of information you'll need in order to make that decision. What TV networks will the basketball playoffs be broadcast on? Which live-streaming services carry the playoff networks? Can we catch any of the NBA Playoffs for free on local networks with an OTA antenna? Let's get started answering those questions and making a plan for watching the NBA Playoffs live, without cable, on our Apple TVs. 

Related: NCAA Basketball Championship 2018: Live Streaming without Cable on Apple TV

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NBA Playoff Schedule, Bracket & Playoff Picture

The NBA Playoffs are airing on NBA TV, ABC, TNT, ESPN, ESPNews, and ESPN2, you can check below with each cable alternative to see if these channels are offered in your area. Then, you can decide which games you'd like to catch. Here are the current NBA Playoff matchups; check back regularly to keep up with the changes! Click here for the 2019 bracket/playoff picture.

Remember, even if you can't catch every game live, the beauty of many of the streaming services we'll learn about is their ability to archive games to watch another time. This is perfect if you have work or other obligations, if a game is on too late to catch, or if you'd just like to record a favorite team playing so you can watch again later. 

Here's everything that's been released so far about the dates and times of the postseason games, as well as the networks broadcasting them. I'll update this as more dates, times, and networks become available.

2019 NBA Playoffs Bracket

(EASTERN STANDARD TIME)

Dates and times are subject to change

TIME

GAME NETWORK
  Saturday, April 13  
12:30 PM Round 1, Game 1 ESPN
3:00 PM Round 1, Game 1 ESPN
5:30 PM Round 1, Game 1 ESPN
8:30 PM Round 1, Game 1 ABC
  Sunday, April 14  
3:00 PM Round 1, Game 1 ABC
  Friday, April 19  
7:00 PM Round 1, Game 3 ESPN
8:30 PM Round 1, Game 3 ABC
9:30 PM Round 1, Game 3 ESPN
  Saturday, April 20  
8:00 PM Round 1, Game 3 or 4 ESPN
10:30 PM Round 1, Game 3 or 4 ESPN
  Sunday, April 21  
1:00 PM Round 1, Game 4 ABC
3:30 PM Round 1, Game 4 ABC
  Friday, April 26  
7:00 PM Round 1, Game 6 ESPNEWS
8:00 PM Round 1, Game 6 ESPN
9:30 PM Round 1, Game 6 ESPNEWS
10:30 PM Round 1, Game 6 ESPN
  Sunday, April 28  
1:00 PM Round 1, Game 7 ABC
3:30 PM Round 1, Game 7 ABC
     
  SECOND ROUND  
  Begins April 29 (possible move-up to April 27-28)  
  Thursday, May 2  
8:00 PM Round 2, tbd ESPN
10:30 PM Round 2, tbd ESPN
  Friday, May 3  
8:00 PM Round 2, tbd ESPN
10:30 PM Round 2, tbd ESPN
  Saturday, May 4  
5:00 PM Round 2, tbd ESPN
8:30 PM Round 2, tbd ABC
  Sunday, May 5  
3:30 PM Round 2, tbd ABC
  Thursday, May 10  
8:00 PM Round 2, Game 6 ESPN
10:30 PM Round 2, Game 6 ESPN
  Friday, May 10  
8:00 PM Round 2, tbd ESPN
10:30 PM Round 2, tbd ESPN
  Sunday, May 12  
3:30 PM Round 2, tbd ABC
  CONFERENCE FINALS  
  May 14 OR May 12-13 Awaiting final announcement.   
7:30 PM Draft Lottery ESPN
8:30 PM West Finals Game 1 ESPN
     
     
  Thursday, May 16  
8:30 PM West Finals Game 2 ESPN
  Saturday, May 18  
8:30 PM West Finals Game 3 ESPN
     
  Monday, May 20  
8:30 PM West Finals Game 4 ESPN
  Wednesday, May 22  
8:30 PM West Finals Game 5 ESPN
  Friday, May 24  
8:30 PM West Finals Game 6 ESPN
  Friday, May 25  
8:30 PM West Finals Game 7 ESPN
     
     
     
     
  FINALS  
   (EASTERN STANDARD TIME)  
  Schedule not yet set  
  Thursday, May 30  
9:00 PM NBA Finals, Game 1 ABC
  Sunday, June 16 (last possible date)  
TBD NBA Finals, Game 7 ABC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stream NBA Playoff Finals 2019 With OTA TV Antenna

Compatibility: Varies between manufacturers. 

Cost: Prices vary from company to company; I've seen anywhere from $17.99 - $149.99. 

Pros: Free content from local broadcasters.

Cons: Some companies charge a monthly fee to use the app associated with their antenna. 

over the air antenna

OTA stands for over the air; in other words, an antenna. Yes, it's true, you can legally pick up locally broadcasted channels and stream them to your Apple TV with an antenna. While you might be envisioning the old-fashioned version that looks like a laundry rack attached to your roof, there are now lots of OTA options that stay right inside your house. Some can boost signals, as well, which is really helpful if you live in a rural area. If you don't mind missing some of the games, some OTA options include AirTVHD HomeRun, and Mohu. But there are lots more out there! Check to see if ABC, the only network to broadcast the NBA Playoffs over the air, is broadcast in your area. If so you can pick up several of the playoff games, including the finals, without cable or a streaming service.

Watch the 2019 NBA Playoffs with NBA League Pass

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV. 
 
Cost: Up to $124.99 a year. 
 
Pros: Archived games, cool features.
 
Cons: Blackouts may occur.

nba league pass 2019 nba playoffs

Although NBA League Pass won't be airing all, or even a majority of the NBA Playoffs live, I'd be remiss in not mentioning this option to cable cutting viewers. This is because if you're not too hung up on watching the playoffs live, you can use an NBA League Pass to watch the playoff games, albeit with a three-hour delay, unless a blackout is in effect. If you're into radio broadcasts, NBA League Pass offers audio broadcasting for every game, live.  

View the 2019 NBA Playoffs with the WatchESPN App

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch. 
 
Cost: Free. 
 
Pros: Use AirPlay to stream content to your Apple TV.
 
Cons: You must have a subscription to a streaming provider that offers TNT or ESPN to watch those network's games.

watch espn

The WatchESPN app offers free streaming from ESPN, ESPN2, and every other channel under the ESPN umbrella. You'll be able to catch not only live sports but also highlights and sports news. Unfortunately, some viewers have trouble with freezing and glitches. It would be a good idea to test the app out before a game you're looking forward to, so you don't miss out if the WatchESPN app misbehaves. As mentioned above, to catch the NBA Playoff games broadcast by TNT or ESPN you'll need an authentication code, but you don't need a code to catch the ABC games!

Catch the 2019 NBA Playoffs with the WatchTNT App

Compatibility: Fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV.
 
Cost: Free. 
 
Pros: With Family Sharing, up to six family members can stream from the app.
 
Cons: Requires authentication from a streaming provider that offers TNT.

watch tnt online

The WatchTNT app offers free streaming, but only with authentication from a cable provider or streaming service. Like the WatchESPN app, WatchTNT has multiple complaints about buffering, skipping, and freezing issues. Check it out to see if the app works well for you before any games you've been looking forward to. If you experience good broadcast quality, this app is a great option for streaming the West Finals if you can't make it home to catch the games on your Apple TV.

NBA Playoffs on YouTube TV

Compatibility: Fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV.

Cost: $40.00 a month.

Pros: Five-day free trial. 

Con: Channel availability varies by region.

nba playoffs

YouTube TV is an official NBA presenting partner, and if you live in the right area, you can catch all the finals games with a subscription. Enter your zip code at this link to see if you can get the coverage you need in your area. 

Stream the 2019 NBA Playoffs with fuboTV

Compatibility: Fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV.

Cost: $44.99 a month.

Pros: Seven-day free trial period with no commitment. 

Con: Channel availability varies by region.

watch nba tv without cable

FuboTV is a tv-streaming service with a heavy focus on live sports. The basic package, fubo Premier, offers more than 70 channels of content. Unfortunately, it seems that this content doesn't include much of the NBA Playoffs. In my area, only NBA TV is offered. It's possible that the necessary channels are offered in other areas, you have to do your research with this one. If you live in an area where FuboTV includes the playoff's broadcasters, this might be the sports-streaming network of your dreams.

To sign up for FuboTV and find the Apple TV app, click here.

Catch the NBA Playoffs 2019 on DirecTV Now

Compatibility: Fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV. 

Cost: $40 per month for the lowest cost package.

Pros: Seven-day free trial period. Streaming included for AT&T Wireless Customers.
 
Cons: Coverage varies by region.

watch nba playoffs without cable

I feel like I've found the holy grail! DirecTV Now is DirecTV's streaming offering, and I've learned that the third tier, $60 a month plan includes TNT, ABC, NBA TV, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNews! This means that you can watch every NBA Playoff game with this one streaming service. Check with DirecTV Now to see which channels are streaming in your area. If you decide to go with this option, here's a tutorial on how to set up DirecTV Now on your Apple TV.

Stream the 2019 NBA Playoffs with Sling TV 

Compatibility: Fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV.

Cost: Sling TV Orange Plan, $25 per month; Blue Plan, $25 per month; Orange and Blue, $40 per month. 

Pros:  First three months of Orange + Blue for $25 per month (limited-time offer).

Con: Channel availability varies by region.

nba finals stream

Sling TV is an à la carte, streaming tv service that allows viewers to pay far less than a traditional cable subscription would cost. Customers can choose Sling Orange, Sling Blue, or both. As an added bonus, Sling offers a Cloud DVR option for $5 a month. This way you can record the NBA Playoffs and watch them later if you have work or family plans to accommodate. If you live in the right area, Sling offers TNT, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews when you purchase the Orange and Blue packages. If you pay $5 extra for Sports extra, you'll get NBA TV. All the 2018 NBA Playoff games from one streaming provider! Cheaper than DirecTV Now, too, at $45 a month rather than $60. Once again, offerings vary from region to region; make sure all the playoff broadcasters are available in your area before signing up.

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you find and install the Sling TV app on your Apple TV. 

Stream 2019 NBA Playoffs on Apple TV with PlayStation Vue

Compatibility: Fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV.

Cost: Five-day free trial, then $49.99 per month.

Pros: Stream on up to five devices at once. 

Cons: Some channels are restricted outside of your home network, not all games are available to view on your iPhone.

nba playoff

You don't need a PlayStation to subscribe to PlayStation Vue, a live-streaming TV service that includes cloud DVR and the ability to stream on five devices at once. The Elite package, Access, rings in at $54.99 a month and includes NBA TV, ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPNews in my area. Check with PlayStation Vue to see which channels you can access. The lack of ABC means you'll also need an OTA antenna as described above, or to use the WatchESPN app, to catch that broadcaster's games. But that still leaves you without access to the TNT games. So close, and yet so far...

If you don't mind missing the West Finals, click here to learn all about setting PlayStation Vue up on your Apple TV.

NBA Playoffs on Hulu + Live TV

Compatibility: Fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV.

Cost: Seven-day free trial, then $44.99 a month

Pros: Watch on two screens at once.

Cons: Channels vary depending on your location.

 you NBC, TBS, TNT, and even truTV! 
 

nba playoffs lie stream

Hulu makes the jump and joins the live-streaming tv game with their Hulu Live offering, which includes access to the entire Hulu streaming library. If you live in the right area, $44.99 a month will get you TNT, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNews. All that's missing is NBA TV. 

If you live in an area where Hulu Live includes all the NBA Playoffs broadcasters, you can learn how to set it up on your Apple TV here

What's Your NBA Stream Choice?

I hope that one of these options will help you live stream all the playoff games you'd like to see this year; let me know which option worked for you or if you have suggestions for another streaming service I should check out!

Top image credit: berni0004 / Shutterstock.com

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Leanne Hays's picture

Leanne Hays is a Feature Web Writer at iPhone Life.  She loves reading and blogging, and is never without a book in her backpack or an audiobook on her phone. Short-term goals include finishing painting her house and starting an aquaponics farm, long-term goals include a bike tour of Italy and writing a novel.