NBA playoffs 2021: Sunday schedule, how to watch Suns vs. Lakers, Knicks vs. Hawks today

With the conclusion of the NBA regular season and the play-in tournament, it’s finally time for the playoffs. NBA fans can look forward to high-stakes basketball nearly every day through early July, complete with real cheering by thousands of in-person attendees in actual home arenas as COVID restrictions loosen — a welcome change after the bubble of 2020.

This weekend is packed with action as all eight playoff series get underway with Game 1. The playoffs are wide open and questions abound. Can LeBron James’ Lakers, a lowly 7-seed, repeat as champions? Will the Nets with their big three of Harden, Durant and Irving live up to potential? Or will a team that dominated the regular season, like the Jazz or the 76ers, take the crown?

After a busy Saturday, we’ll continue finding out some of those answers. The playoffs began on Saturday, May 22, and games will air live on ABC, TNT, ESPN and NBA TV. Here’s everything you need to know to watch live, no cable required.

Read more: NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021: First-round matchups, how to watch today without cable

Anthony Davis, left, and LeBron James made it through the play-in. Now, they need to get past the Phoenix Suns in their pursuit of a title defense.

Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

What’s the schedule for the first round of the NBA playoffs?

The 2021 NBA playoffs start this weekend and will continue throughout the first half of the summer. The Finals are scheduled to start July 8 and could end as late as July 22. As in past years, each playoff series potentially runs seven games. 

Sunday, May 23

  • No. 8 Washington Wizards at No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers, 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m ET on TNT
  • No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 Phoenix Suns, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
  • No. 5 Atlanta Hawks at No. 4 New York Knicks, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on TNT
  • No. 8 Grizzlies at No. 1 Utah Jazz, 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Monday, May 23

  • No. 6 Miami Heat at No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET on TNT (Bucks lead series 1-0)
  • No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers at No. 3 Denver Nuggets, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET on TNT (Blazers lead series 1-0)

Tuesday, May 24

  • No. 7 Boston Celtics at No. 2 Brooklyn Nets, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET on TNT (Nets lead series 1-0)
  • No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 Phoenix Suns, 10 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on TNT
  • No. 5 Dallas Mavericks at No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. PT on NBA TV (Mavericks lead series 1-0)

Check out the full playoff schedule at

How can I watch the NBA playoffs on TV live without cable?

Four of the five major live TV streaming services offer ESPN, TNT and ABC (all but Sling TV), but not every service carries your local ABC station, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area. Sling, to its credit, will be simulcasting the games that air on ABC. 

If you have FuboTV you’ll need something else to catch the games on TNT. Getting NBA TV, which will have some coverage as well, may require an additional fee. 

Our top picks? For the most complete option — and a better app — check out YouTube TV. If you want to get all the games for the cheapest rate, Sling TV is the pick. 

Google’s live TV streaming service offers all the channels you’ll need for the NBA playoffs for $65 per month.

Read our YouTube TV review.


Sling TV’s Orange package offers ESPN and TNT for $35 per month. While it does not carry ABC, Sling says it will simulcast the games that air on ABC through ESPN3. Getting NBA TV, however, requires the additional $11 per month Sports Extra add-on. 

Hulu Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and includes three of the channels you’ll need for the NBA Playoffs, with the exception being NBA TV.

Read our Hulu Plus Live TV review.


AT&T TV’s basic Entertainment package costs $70 and carries ABC, ESPN and TNT. To get NBA TV, however, you will need to upgrade to the $85 per month Choice option.

Read our AT&T TV review.


Will fans be allowed at the games?

Whereas the 2020 playoffs took place in a Walt Disney World bubble in Orlando, Florida, the NBA has played its 2020-21 season in regular arenas with fans increasingly coming back to stadiums as local COVID-19 restrictions have eased. Fans are allowed at playoff games this year, though the exact number in each venue will vary.

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