A Heat-Nuggets NBA Finals Could Be a TV Ratings Nightmare for League
With both teams up 3-0 in their playoff series, Miami and Denver are on a collision course
Before the third round of the NBA playoffs tipped off, it seemed like there was a decent chance that the two winningest franchises in league history, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, would meet again in the Finals to compete for a championship for the 13th time. Now, six games later, it appears that the NBA will miss out on that dream matchup and instead have to deal with a nightmare scenario of the Denver Nuggets taking on the Miami Heat.
While Boston and Los Angeles are both technically still alive in the playoffs, the Nuggets beat the Lakers 119-108 on Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in the West finals and the Heat embarrassed the Celtics 128-102 on Sunday to go up 3-0 in the East finals. With NBA teams collectively 0-149 all-time when trailing a series 3-0, the odds are not good that the Celtics or Lakers will be able to rebound to advance to the final round of the postseason.
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That being the case, hoops heads can look forward to two-time league MVP Nikola Jokić leading Denver, the top seed in the West, against all-time playoff performer Jimmy Butler and Miami, the lowest seed in the East. On paper, the matchup projects to be a lopsided one in Denver’s favor, but the Heat have been exceeding expectations throughout the postseason and it would be wrong to count them out. However, it would also be wrong to think that a Finals showdown between Denver and Miami, both mid-tier media markets, will do much for the NBA in terms of TV ratings. Also, with the NBA Finals set to start on June 1 and the Nuggets and Heat both on the verge of sweeping, there will likely be a large chunk of time with no basketball at all.
If the Nuggets and Heat do advance, it will be Denver’s first-ever appearance in the championship round and Miami’s first time in the Finals since 2020. The teams met twice in the regular season with Denver winning both times by a combined nine-point margin. For those that follow the league, Jokić going up against Butler would be a compelling matchup, but for casual basketball fans it would be far from must-see TV. That being said, it is certainly looking like the two teams with the most NBA Finals appearances in history will be heading home soon and two franchises that have never met in the championship round will be getting acquainted.
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