NBA Playoff Schedule 2020: Known Dates, TV, Live Stream Coverage for Postseason

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIAugust 15, 2020

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) brings the ball upcourt in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Four months later than usual, the NBA playoffs are about to begin. There's just one last order of business to take care of before this year's bracket is finalized.

On Saturday, the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies will play in a Western Conference play-in game. If No. 8-seeded Portland wins, it advances to the first round. If No. 9-seeded Memphis wins, the two teams will play again in a winner-take-all contest Sunday.

Either the Trail Blazers or Grizzlies will then take on the No. 1-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the opening round.

The rest of the bracket is complete following Friday's final seeding games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, with the Lakers the only team that don't know their first-round opponent.

Here's a look at important dates to know heading into the NBA playoffs, followed by the upcoming first-round schedule and a breakdown of some intriguing matchups to watch.


NBA Playoffs Schedule

Aug. 15: Western Conference play-in game (Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies), 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Aug. 16: Potential second Western Conference play-in game, 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (if Memphis wins Saturday)

Aug. 17: Start of first round of playoffs

Aug. 31: Conference semifinals target date

Sept. 15: Conference finals target date

Sept. 30: NBA Finals target date

Oct. 13: Last possible date for final game of NBA Finals


Upcoming First-Round Schedule

Monday, Aug. 17

Game 1: No. 6 Utah Jazz at No. 3 Denver Nuggets, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Game 1: No. 7 Brooklyn Nets at No. 2 Toronto Raptors, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Game 1: No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3 Boston Celtics, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Game 1: No. 7 Dallas Mavericks at No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN


Tuesday, Aug. 18

Game 1: No. 8 Orlando Magic at No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks, 1:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Game 1: No. 5 Miami Heat at No. 4 Indiana Pacers, 4 p.m. ET, TNT

Game 1: No. 5 Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 4 Houston Rockets, 6:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Game 1: No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers/Memphis Grizzlies at No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers, 9 p.m. ET, TNT

Complete first-round schedule can be found at NBA.com. Games that air on ESPN and ABC can be streamed at ESPN+. Games that air on TNT can be streamed at Watch TNT.


Intriguing First-Round Matchups

No. 4 Houston Rockets vs. No. 5 Oklahoma City Thunder

Last offseason, the Rockets and Thunder made a huge trade. Russell Westbrook switched teams for the first time in his career and headed to Houston, while veteran Chris Paul was dealt to Oklahoma City.

The move worked out for both teams, as they each made the playoffs in the Western Conference. However, only one will make it past the first round.

Houston is facing one big problem, though—Westbrook is going to miss the start of the series because of a strained quadriceps muscle, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, and it's not clear when he may return. With Westbrook in the lineup, the Rockets likely would have been the favorite against the Thunder. Now, they will have to find a way to have postseason success without their star point guard.

Clearly, that means James Harden will have to lead the way. The 30-year-old former NBA MVP is playing as well as ever, leading the league in scoring during the regular season with 34.3 points per game. He's also taken Houston past at least the first round of the playoffs each of the previous three seasons.


No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks

Ashley Landis/Associated Press

This will be the Clippers' first playoff appearance since acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last offseason, and they're going to be one of the top contenders for the NBA title. But they'll first have to get past the Mavericks, which will likely not be an easy task.

Dallas hadn't been in the playoffs since 2016, which was before it acquired Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. And in Doncic's first two NBA seasons, he's emerged as a star who is always a threat to put up a triple-double and lead the Mavs to victory.

While acknowledging that Dallas is a good team, Los Angeles also appears confident about its own postseason chances.

"Luka's going to be a handful," Clippers guard Lou Williams said, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. "Dallas plays extremely hard. Just saw these guys last week. A well-coached team. They're all going to be on one accord. They're going to play hard. For us we've got to be on the same accord, but I feel really good about that matchup."

But if Doncic gets hot, it could quickly become a competitive series and the Clippers may find themselves playing some must-win games early.


No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 7 Brooklyn Nets

Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Can the reigning NBA champions win back-to-back titles? Or will a team that defied expectations during its seeding games pull off a huge upset in the opening round? Either way, it could be a fun series to watch.

Even after losing Leonard, the Raptors followed up the franchise's first championship with another strong season in 2019-20, as they remained among the Eastern Conference's top teams and secured the No. 2 seed. In fact, their 53-19 record gave them their best regular-season winning percentage in franchise history.

But the Nets could give them a competitive series. Despite not having Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (injuries) as well as Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler (electing not to play), Brooklyn went 5-3 in its seeding games, which included victories over the Bucks and Clippers.

This series should give an indication of whether the Raptors could be a threat to win another NBA title this year. But the Nets have already been a surprise team during the season restart, so perhaps they'll continue to play better than many expected. Toronto should take the series, but there could be some competitive games that will make it intriguing.