NBA All-Star Game, Slam Dunk contest: Start time, schedule and how to watch without cable

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After an unprecedented 2019-2020 NBA season due to the pandemic, the 2020-2021 season has reached its midpoint with today’s All-Star Game. Unlike past years when the festivities ran the whole weekend, the 2021 edition will consolidate all the in-person action to a single Sunday. Televised on TNT, the game will take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta in an effort to be closer to Turner Sports’ production facilities and limit travel. Fans will not be able to attend in person, though some vaccinated front-line workers will be in the stands. Leading vote-getters LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the captains for the game and full rosters can be found on the NBA’s site.

While COVID-19 didn’t shut down the game, its impact was very apparent on Sunday when the NBA announced that Joel Embiid (Team Durant) and Ben Simmons (Team LeBron) of the Phiadelphia 76ers will be held out of the contest due to contact tracing. The two stars had contact with a barber who has since tested positive for coronavirus. ESPN reports that New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will be taking Embiid’s place in the starting lineup for Team Durant. 

Here’s the schedule for today, Sunday March 7, all of which will air on TNT: 

  • 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT): Taco Bell Skills Challenge and MTN Dew 3-Point Contest
  • 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT): All-Star Game
  • Halftime of All-Star Game: AT&T Slam Dunk Contest

Read more: NBA streaming: Best ways to watch the 2021 season without cable


LeBron James once again headlines this year’s NBA All-Star game. 

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images

What is the format for this year’s game? 

The format for the 2021 All-Star Game will mirror that of the 2020 game. Like last year, the teams will begin each of the first three quarters at 0-0 and play for 12 minutes. The team that scores the most in that quarter wins the period. The fourth quarter will be untimed with the goal being to hit the target score, ensuring the game ends on a basket as opposed to the clock hitting zeros.

The target score is determined by adding up each team’s first three scores and adding 24 — in honor of the late Kobe Bryant’s jersey number — to the leading team’s total.   

When does the regular season resume? 

The second half of the NBA regular season will begin on Wednesday, March 10. 

How can I watch the NBA 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. 

For All-Star Sunday you’re only going to need TNT, so if you have FuboTV you’ll need something else to catch the game. 

If you want maximum coverage, especially for the rest of the regular season, you’ll also want to make sure you have NBA TV (which also airs some games nationally each week) and your regional sports network (which air the bulk of a team’s local games). Most regional sports networks are only widely available via streaming on AT&T TV, which starts at $85 per month for the Choice package with no annual contract. 

At that price, you may want to consider just getting regular cable.  

Read more: How to cut the cable TV cord

Sling TV’s Orange package has TNT for the All-Star game.

For other NBA games it also carries ESPN, but not ABC. NBA TV is available for an extra $15 per month as part of Sling’s Sports Extra package. 

Sling’s other package Blue also carries TNT, but only Orange has ESPN, which makes it the better option for basketball fans. 

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes TNT for the All-Star Game, as well as all the other major NBA channels (ABC, ESPN, and NBA TV). 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 Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and includes TNT for the All-Star Game, as well as two other major NBA channels (ABC and ESPN), but Hulu lacks NBA TV. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

AT&T TV’s basic Entertainment package costs $70 and carries TNT for the All-Star Game, as well two other major NBA channels (ABC and ESPN), but it lacks NBA TV. 

AT&T TV’s $85-a-month Choice package has all the major national channels, including NBA TV, as well as many of the regional sports networks that carry your team’s local games. That makes it our top choice for NBA streaming. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels, including RSNs, are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV review.

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