You’re in China, you can’t speak Chinese and you have no idea when or where to watch the NBA Playoffs.
We were there once, and we feel you. So to help you celebrate your May 1st holiday, NiuBBall is hooking it up with a NBA Playoffs TV Guide to help out.
When can I watch the Playoffs?
Games are broadcast live in the morning.
No, watching sports in the day’s early hours is not totally ideal, nor is it very practical for those who work or go to school. But, unless you can convince China to change their timezone to Pacific Standard Time (trust me, I went to school on the West Coast and it’s way better than Eastern), the only thing we can do is live with it. Luckily, knowing what time the games are on is as easy as looking at the schedule and changing the PM to AM. For example, if a game starts at 7:30 PM on the East Coast, it starts at 7:30am on the Far East Coast. See, we told you it was easy.
Where can I watch the Playoffs?
China’s national sports television station, CCTV-5, carries a decent amount of early round games and works itself to eventually carry every game of the Conference Finals and Finals.
If you’re looking for a schedule, you can go to either the CCTV.com TV schedule or tvmao.com. and press the “translate” button on your internet browser. Just know that these sites sometimes aren’t accurate — for example, both says CCTV-5 is showing a live feed of the Knicks and Heat tomorrow at 10:30, despite the fact that they’re playing at 7.
If you’re in Beijing, BTV-6 also shows games in the mornings. You can check their programming schedule here (again, have that “translate” button ready).
But the best outlet to watch a game is is Sina.com’s amazing “NBA Room” that allows users to watch live games online. They have at least one game per day, so if you don’t like any of the games being played on TV, there are no games on TV or you don’t have a TV, you can rest easy knowing you have options. And the best part? It’s free. Plus I don’t even think you have to register (don’t quote me on that, though.)
QQ.com also has a page where you can watch live streaming games.
Is there anywhere to watch the games in English?
No, not if you’re watching Chinese channels. The only way to watch English commentary is to get a satellite dish, or go somewhere where somebody else has a satellite dish. Our suggestion: Like the NBA-in-the-morning stuff, just embrace it. If you’re into stats and are afraid that you won’t be able to understand anything flashed on screen, just open your computer, put on a live box score and glance down during breaks in the action. It’s not that bad, really and you should be doing it regardless of language.
Plus, watching games in Chinese is all part of the China basketball experience. and pick up some new words. We’ll even give you first one to get you started: Hao qiu. it literally means “good ball” and it’s used by announcers to describe literally every nice play: A dunk, a three-pointer, a pull-up from the elbow, a beasty rebound in traffic, a behind-the-back pass, a sick crossover, an alley-oop, an acrobatic lay-up, a block and any other good thing a player can do in basketball.
Are there any good spots I can go to watch the game?
Your options are limited because games are on in the mornings and most bars aren’t open in the morning. Luckily in Beijing, The Den is open 24 hours and is a good place to watch games if you’re into having a beer at nine in the morning. They have pretty decent breakfasts, too.
So enjoy the Playoffs and as always, if you want to serve the English-speaking basketball loving China community, don’t hesitate to send me an email or leave something in the comments detailing how and/or where you watch the Playoffs in China, and I’ll post it up with your name, your Twitter account, your website… whatever.