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NBA Finals Ratings Up from Previous Years

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The 2017 NBA Finals has had interesting moments, but it certainly has not possessed the same level of competition compared to previous years. The Golden State Warriors are up 3-0, pulling off the Game 3 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the last moments and practically securing their second championship in three years.

However, the NBA announced on Thursday that ratings for Game 3 were up 22 percent compared to last year’s Game 3, and that these NBA Finals are the most-watched NBA Finals through the first three games since 1998, the year that Michael Jordan clinched his sixth championship. The Game 3 broadcast on ABC delivered over 20 million viewers, “making it the most-watched NBA Finals Game 3 ever on ABC.”

Ratings in Cleveland and California were naturally higher, reaching a 32.4 rating in Cleveland and a 31.1 rating in the San Francisco-Oakland area for Game 2. And the growth in streaming adds additional viewers which makes this one of the most-watched NBA Finals ever.

Does Parity Matter?

The fact that the ratings are so high calls into question about what NBA fans really want to watch. Most NBA fans can now stream the content using a hotspot signal booster to increase reception. But we should remeber this is the third straight NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cavaliers. The Warriors swept their way through each of the previous rounds while the Cavaliers lost just one game in their rounds.

And while there have been exciting moments with Cleveland sometimes keeping it close, the Warriors have clearly proven themselves to be the superior team in these three games. By taking advantage of what was essentially an unexpected loophole in the cap in 2016, a 73-win team signed Kevin Durant and is on the verge of pulling off the most lopsided playoff run in history.

Ever since the Warriors signed Durant, fans have complained about how the decision has killed parity in the NBA. That complaint appears to be legitimate given how the Warriors have cruised to the Finals and how they will be the heavy favorites to win the championship going into next season.

But the high television ratings indicate that fans are perfectly willing to tune in to watch a dominant team triumph over the competition. While the Warriors were certainly the heavy favorites going into the series, there are plenty of narratives which makes for compelling viewing such as the possibility of Durant’s first championship.

The NBA’s History of Dominance

NBA fans says they love parity, but the NBA’s history is filled with dominant teams. The 1980s, the era which is credited with reviving the NBA, was essentially a decade-long battle between Larry Bird’s Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Lakers. That was then followed by other dominant teams like the Bulls and the Spurs. The NBA playoffs are the most predictable out of any American professional sports league as a NBA star like LeBron James has a much bigger impact in his game than a comparable star in a different sport.

But while the NBA ratings are high for now, will they hold up if the Warriors continue to rule the league for years to come? This Warriors team would be expected to dominate next year, and likely for years to come. If they continue to win championship after championship without a sweat, will fans tune in to see dominance or get bored of one team winning it all?

It is possible to imagine ratings declining if the Warriors end up too dominant, but TV analysts had predicted before the 2017 Finals began that ratings would not equal the 2016 Finals. Those predictions turned out to be inaccurate, and NBA and TV experts may have to revise their understanding of what NBA fans wish to watch.

Game 4 will be played on Friday at 9 pm EST as the Warriors look to close things out.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Steph Curry Talks LeBron James Trash Talking During Game 1 of NBA Finals

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Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry is gearing up, along with his team, to defend their 2018 NBA Championship, their 2nd in a row and 3rd in 4 years, when the 2018-2019 regular season kicks off this fall, but he is still discussing the 2018 NBA Finals.

Curry specifically is discussing his shock as the trash talk from then Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, which threw Curry off.

Curry and James’ relationship is seemingly in an odd place. James was “like a mentor” to Curry when curry was in college playing at Davidson, but things seem a bit icy now as Curry’s Warriors and James’ Cavaliers (James is now on the Los Angeles Lakers) met in some heated battles in the NBA Finals over the past couple of years.

Despite the shift in their relationship, Curry was still caught of guard by James’ approach, particularly in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.

“It was never going to spill over to that” Curry said, during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area’s Drew Shiller).

“But it was an interesting moment …I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn’t see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.

“And I was like, ‘That’s what we’re really on right now? We’re about to win and you’re worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?’ And then the whole Tristan and Draymond thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up? Is this really what we’re about right now?’

“And he was like, ‘I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I’m a mentor’ and it’s a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.’ (laughter). Come on man, that’s messed up.”

The rift goes a bit deeper than that, and a book from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, entitled ‘Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry’, it is elaborated, highlighting a 2016 Halloween Party thrown by James that featured a dummy of Steph Curry that was on the floor, forcing guests to step over it.

Now that the two are in the same division, thanks to James’ signing with the Lakers, betting websites will have a field day this season when the two teams take the court, and James continues his mission to topple the juggernaut Warriors.

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Cavs’ Tristan Thompson Allegedly Punched Warriors’ Draymond Green at Night Club

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Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green apparently took their on-court beef off the court as the two allegedly had an altercation at a Los Angeles night club.

According to online gossip site Bossip, Green had approached Thompson to apologize for what happened after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but Thompson wasn’t interested.

When Green persisted, Thompson punched Green.

Green and Thompson got into it numerous times throughout the Finals, with Green even insulting Thompson as Thompson attempted to shake his hand following the infamous Game 4.

Here is more from The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre:

 

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Kevin Love Signs Extension With the Cavs

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Kevin Love surprised the Twitter GMs and signed a 4 year, $120 million extension to stay in Cleveland. The full value of the deal will wash out to 5 years and about $145 million, around $10 million below his max for an extension. This clearly signals that Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers want to remain competitive in the wake of LeBron James’ exodus.

The initial reaction across the NBA landscape was that Cleveland would look to tear the roster down to the studs and start over. The Cavs owe their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta if it falls outside of the top 10, so trading Kevin Love would’ve not only helped clear their books, but also almost guaranteed that they keep their pick. Bringing him back into the fold makes that much more precarious. The roster now contains a mixed bag of inconsistent youth and holdovers from the most recent LeBron era that won’t take kindly to a middling team not in the championship conversation. The Cavs seem to be split between two paths.

But that’s not forever. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, “Cleveland is still projecting to have close to $70M in cap space during the summer of 2020 to reshape the roster.” The Cavs can get off of George Hill, JR Smith and Kyle Korver for less than $10 million after this season. That leaves only Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson as expiring contracts in the following season to free the Cavs of all their (current) bad money. Cleveland is never going to be a free agent destination without LeBron, but keeping Kevin Love makes them a much more attractive option for free agents, and they’ll have plenty of money to play with.

If that doesn’t pan out, Cleveland can still trade Love in the future. This extension makes him a cost-controlled asset, giving other teams more certainty. Yes, it’s more years and more money but Kevin Love is still an All-Star. Making him the focal point of the offense should allow him to put up big numbers and recoup some of the market value he’s lost while playing a diminished role alongside LeBron. In the coming years, all the ghastly cap-spike deals will be coming off teams’ books, opening lots of cap space around the league. There are only so many stars available and some teams will inevitably strike out. Combine that with some pressure from ownership to win now and Kevin Love can be a very desirable option.

Even with the extension the Cavs are far from a playoff lock. Their second best player may very well be a rookie. So perhaps an injury or a few strategically placed DNPs could allow them to keep their pick. Either way, Love wanted to stay in Cleveland. That’s a nice change for a city that doesn’t have a lot of experience with that. The goalposts for success have changed, but after years of watching this team trudge through the doldrums of the regular season, this young, talented team could be a lot of fun for fans to watch night in and night out.

 

 

 

Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24

 

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