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NBA Playoffs 2024: How to Watch Play-in Tournament on Friday

 NBA Playoffs 2024: How to Watch Play-in Tournament on Friday

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Western Conference play-in games for $10 per month

The NBA’s postseason picture is almost complete. The Lakers and Sixers punched their tickets to the playoffs in the first two nights of play-in games. Friday’s games will determine the final seeds in the Eastern and Western conferences.

First up is the East, with the Bulls, fresh off a dominant win against the Hawks on Wednesday, heading to Miami to take on the Heat. In addition to falling to the Sixers in a close game on Wednesday, the Heat are expected to be without star Jimmy Butler who may miss multiple weeks after a possible MCL injury

Tip-off for this game is called for 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) on ESPN, with the winner becoming the East’s eighth seed and taking on the Boston Celtics. 

On the other side of the bracket, the Kings will head to New Orleans to battle the Pelicans. The storyline here is remarkably similar to the East’s: The Pelicans lost a close game to the Lakers on Tuesday and will enter Friday’s contest without star Zion Williamson, who has a left hamstring injury. The Kings, meanwhile, are riding high after a thorough beatdown of the Warriors in their play-in game. 

Tip-off for this game is set for 9:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. PT) on TNT, with the winner becoming the West’s eighth seed and going up against the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream the play-in games as well as the NBA playoffs.

Keegan Murray of Sacramento Kings Keegan Murray of Sacramento Kings

Keegan Murray, #13, of the Sacramento Kings, shoots over Klay Thompson, #11, of the Golden State Warriors in the second half during the Play-In Tournament at Golden 1 Center.  

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

What is the play-in tournament and playoff schedule?

Here is the schedule for the next few days of NBA action (all times ET): 

Friday, April 19 (Play-in)

  • Bulls vs. Heat, 7 p.m. on ESPN, winner plays the Celtics and is the eighth seed in the East.
  • Kings vs. Pelicans, 9:30 p.m. on TNT, winner plays the Thunder and is the eighth seed in the West. 

Saturday, April 20 (Playoffs) 

  • Magic vs. Cavaliers, 1 p.m. on ESPN
  • Suns vs. Timberwolves, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
  • 76ers vs. Knicks, 6 p.m. on ESPN
  • Lakers vs. Nuggets, 8:30 p.m. on ABC

Sunday, April 21

  • Winner of Bulls/Heat vs. Celtics, 1 p.m. on ABC
  • Mavericks vs. Clippers, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
  • Pacers vs. Bucks, 7 p.m. on TNT
  • Winner of Pelicans/Kings vs. Thunder, 9:30 p.m. on TNT

Monday, April 22

  • Magic vs. Cavaliers, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
  • 76ers vs. Knicks, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
  • Lakers vs. Nuggets, 10 p.m. on TNT

What does the NBA playoff bracket look like?

The Boston Celtics earned the top spot in the East, and the Oklahoma City Thunder edged the defending champion Denver Nuggets for the top seed in the West. Here’s what the matchups look like for the 2024 NBA Playoffs that begin Saturday:

Eastern Conference 

  • No. 1 Boston Celtics vs. No. 8 Miami Heat/Chicago Bulls
  • No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 7 Philadelphia 76ers
  • No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Indiana Pacers
  • No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Orlando Magic

Western Conference

  • No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans/Sacramento Kings
  • No. 2 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers
  • No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. No. 6 Phoenix Suns
  • No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks

How to watch the NBA play-in tournament

You can watch the play-in games on TNT and ESPN with a cable subscription or a live TV streaming service. Four of the five major services (all but Fubo) offer both channels. You can also watch the TNT broadcast of the Western Conference play-in games with Max.

The rest of the playoffs will be shown on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.


Sling TV’s $40-per-month Orange plan includes TNT and ESPN for the play-in games, but you’ll need the combined Orange-and-Blue plan for $55 a month to get both ESPN and ABC for the rest of the playoffs. You’ll also need to live in one of the few markets where Sling offers ABC. Getting NBA TV will also require the $11-per-month Sports Extra add-on. 

Read our Sling TV review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

YouTube TV costs $73 per month and includes TNT and ESPN for the play-in tournament. For future rounds of the playoffs, it also includes ABC and is the only service to include NBA TV in its basic plan. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $77 per month and includes TNT and ESPN. It also offers ABC for future rounds; click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code. It’s the only service, however, that doesn’t offer NBA TV, even as part of an add-on package.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

Directv stream

DirecTV Stream’s basic $80-per-month plan includes TNT and ESPN. For future rounds, you can use its channel lookup tool to see if ABC is available where you live. Getting NBA TV will require stepping up to the pricier Choice package.

Read our DirecTV Stream review.

Max/Warner Bros. Discovery

The ad-supported plan for Max costs $10 per month and will show the three Western Conference play-in games and well as some games in future rounds of the NBA playoffs. With just Max, however, you’ll miss games on ESPN, ABC and NBA TV.

Live sports on Max will soon require the $10-per-month B/R Sports add-on, but you won’t need to shell out for it just yet. Warner Bros. Discovery is delaying charging customers for the add-on for now and includes it in the standard subscription.

Read our Max review.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live TV streaming services guide.

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