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The NBA's First Round Broadcast Schedule Has Not Been Fan-Friendly

By Stephen Douglas
Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic square off in the dark.
Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic square off in the dark. / Justin Tafoya/Getty Images
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There are three NBA playoff games on tonight. If you would like to watch all three of them, good luck. The league has again counter-programmed against itself with games on TNT and NBA TV at the same time. Why does it seem like the NBA is trying to hide Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic from the majority of Americans? Dame and the Joker are not alone.

On Memorial Day, when most of America has the day off, the NBA broadcasted two games. The Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards tipped off around 7 p.m. ET. The Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies sometime after 9:30 p.m. For some reason the NBA and TNT decided that the best course of action was to have a game featuring young, presumably marketable stars, end around midnight at the end of a long weekend on a worknight. If you want kids to see Donovan Mitchell and Ja Morant on anything besides Twitter and TikTok, maybe don't have them play after bedtime.

Tonight will be even worse. The Brooklyn Nets are going to complete the gentleman's sweep of the Boston Celtics on TNT. They will be the only game in that window and it will probably be a blowout. Then at 9 p.m. on NBATV the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets will play a pivotal Game 5. As the first half draws to a close, the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns will play their own pivotal Game 5. The two most important games of the NBA season thus far and they're going head-to-head and both finishing well after children and responsible people with normal jobs should be asleep.

Oh, but it can actually get worse. If the Nets fail to eliminate the Celtics, Nuggets fans apparently won't even be able to watch the Game 6 by legal means, as it will be blacked out locally, just like Game 5 tonight. Not to mention the start times somehow manage to get worse.

A 10:30 p.m. start time is absolutely insane. I know there are "reasons" for these decisions, but guess what? They suck. There's no reason teams can't tip off at 4 p.m. locally. One of the most famous thing about Lakers crowds in Los Angeles is that they were always arriving late. You can't even tell with the lack of courtside seats right now. Who cares if someone misses the start of a game? You buy tickets to see the result. If you want to see what happened at the start? Buy the NFT.

I know it's a galaxy-brain take, but leagues should want people to have the opportunity to watch their games. The NFL front-loads their Sunday afternoon schedules so that there are three to five games in the late slot. That's not fan-friendly. MLB starts World Series games way too late. It just doesn't seem fan-friendly in the present or like it will help in the longterm.

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