Where to Watch the 2021 NBA Playoffs This Weekend
The NBA's best teams are on the annual quest for bragging rights of being crowned champions. Here's a rundown of all the key matchups of the NBA Playoffs rd 1.
CLEVELAND - JUNE 14: Members of the San Antonio Spurs hold up the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after winnin Game Four of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 14, 2007 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Last year’s NBA Playoffs were unconventional, to say the least. After the regular season abruptly got put on pause due to the pandemic, games restarted months later down in the Orlando bubble. Along with the new locale came a new format, new energy, and when the dust settled new champions were crowned with the Lakers besting the Heat to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
This year’s postseason already has a different feel, too. Following the first-ever play-in tournament to determine the 7th and 8th seeds in the East and West, the stage is set for every basketball fan’s favorite time of year—the start of the NBA Playoffs.
With the first round kicking off today, it’s winner takes all as the 16 best teams in the League face off on the quest for the chip and the bragging rights that come along with it. Every team has something to prove and with stacked rosters all around, the door is wide open for a new champion to emerge.
Fueled by MVP candidate Joel Embiid and Defensive Player of the Year hopeful Ben Simmons, the 76ers claimed the top spot in the East. Nonetheless, the new-look Nets—featuring the three-headed monster of Kevin Durant (27.5 PPG), Kyrie Irving (27.2 PPG), and James Harden (25.1 PPG)—are an imposing foe as the No. 2 seed. And, to the delight of the New York diehards, the surging Knicks step into the Playoffs with a fire that could make for some interesting matchups.
Meanwhile, two surprise teams—the Jazz (the first team to clinch a playoff berth) and Suns—came out on top of the West. Donovan Mitchell (26.4) has emerged as a legitimate superstar, and the Stifle Tower Rudy Gobert has stymied opponents, swatting 2.7 shots per game. Behind young star Devin Booker and the leadership of Monty Williams and Chris Paul, the Suns (49-21) have experienced a rapid turnaround after finishing 34-39 in 2020-21.
The defending champion Lakers may be entering the postseason as the West’s No. 7 seed, but no one is sleeping on them. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the charge, everyone expects the Lakers to outperform their position.
With the first game of the postseason tipping off in a few hours, here’s a rundown of the matchups going into opening weekend of Round 1:
SATURDAY, MAY 22
- Bucks (3) vs. Heat (6) – 2pm ET on ESPN
- Clippers (4) vs. Mavs (5) – 4:30pm ET on ESPN
- Nets (2) vs. Celtics (7) – 8pm ET on ABC
- Nuggets (3) vs. Trail Blazers (6) – 10:30pm ET on ESPN
SUNDAY, MAY 23
- 76ers (1) vs. Wizards (8) – 1pm ET on TNT
- Suns (2) vs. Lakers (7) – 3:30pm ET on ABC
- Knicks (4) vs. Hawks (5) – 7pm ET on TNT
- Jazz (1) vs. Grizzlies (8) – 9:30pm ET on TNT
Check your local listings to for future NBA Playoff games airing on ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.