If you’ve looked at Friday night’s NBA game list and wondered if you’ve lost your mind, the answer is no, the schedule is correct. A Lakers game against the Clippers is not shown on national television.
ESPN announced Thursday afternoon that he would lengthen the battle for Los Angeles to broadcast the Warriors vs. Suns. It was a surprising move on the surface, but the change makes a lot of sense.
Let’s break down the two factors that forced ESPN to re-evaluate its programming.
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Why does ESPN flex Warriors-Suns over Lakers-Clippers?
Warriors vs. Suns is a great match
The Suns have the best NBA record this season (19-3), and the Warriors are just behind them in the Western Conference standings (18-3). Phoenix is on an 18-game winning streak, and Golden State had seven straight wins before losing to… the Suns.
Tuesday night’s competition between the title contenders was not only a very competitive affair, but also an audience victory for TNT. The network announced that the game averaged 2.4 million viewers, giving TNT its most-watched non-Opening regular-season game since December 19, 2019 (Lakers v Bucks).
You have big names like Stephen Curry and Chris Paul. You have a potential preview of the Western Conference Finals. And you probably have an easy win because the previous game is fresh on the minds of basketball fans.
It doesn’t take a TV veteran to figure out that Warriors vs. Suns should be presented to a national audience.
The LeBron James effect
Oh, and that part was a big deal too. When ESPN announced its decision, James was stuck in NBA health and safety protocols. He was due to miss several games after testing positive for COVID-19. A clash without James (and Kawhi Leonard) just wasn’t that appealing.
However, the Lakers star was allowed to return to his squad on Thursday night after recording several negative COVID-19 tests, according to multiple reports. (The NBA requires a player who tests positive for COVID-19 to be absent from their team for at least 10 days or until they return two negative PCR tests within 24 hours.)
Would ESPN have abandoned the Lakers against the Clippers if the news had surfaced earlier today? Maybe not, but the Lakers are expected to appear on ESPN nine more times this season. No one should be complaining about the lack of screen time in Los Angeles.
NBA program for Friday, December 3
|Game||Time (ET)||National television|
|Heat vs. Pacers||7:00 p.m.||–|
|Horsemen vs. sorcerers||7:00 p.m.||–|
|76ers vs. Hawks||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Timberwolves versus nets||7:30 p.m.||–|
|Magic versus rockets||8 p.m.||–|
|Pelicans vs. Mavericks||8:30 p.m.||–|
|Celtics vs. Jazz||9 p.m.||–|
|Suns vs. warriors||10:00 p.m.||ESPN|
|Clippers vs. Lakers||10:00 p.m.||–|