The Spurs’ 91-79 defeat of the Lakers yesterday in the opening game of their first-round NBA Playoff series earned ABC a 4.6 overnight Nielsen rating, the largest mark for an opening weekend playoff game on the net in 10 years. The game was up 18% from the comparable Lakers-Nuggets game last year. The only opening weekend game to rate higher in network history was an ’03 Lakers-T’Wolves matchup, which drew a 5.1 overnight. ABC’s lone game on Saturday, the Knicks’ seven-point win over the Celtics, earned a 3.7 overnight. That is down 3% from a Heat-Knicks matchup last year, but up 3% from Heat-76ers in ’11. On ESPN, both the Bulls-Nets and Grizzlies-Clippers games Saturday night earned a 2.6 overnight. Bulls-Nets is up 24% from the comparable Pacers-Magic game in ’12, though Grizzlies-Clippers is down 16% from Thunder-Mavericks last year. The Warriors-Nuggets game earned a 2.4 overnight Saturday afternoon; there is no comparable game from last season (THE DAILY).
BROADCAST REVIEWS: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes the "best thing" about ESPN's Mike Breen calling a game on ABC/ESPN is that fans "don't feel as if you're listening to or watching ESPN." Breen, who called both Celtics-Knicks and Lakers-Spurs, "works shtick-less, with no self-promotional 'signature' gimmickry, and manages to avoid the transparent, repetitive hard-sells of everything Disney, ESPN and ABC." Meanwhile, ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy at times was "tough to take on Saturday, be it his silly bit on traveling violations" or his "late-game description that the Knicks defense has Boston, ugh, 'absolutely in complete lockdown'" (N.Y. POST, 4/22). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Altitude Sports' coverage of Warriors-Nuggets on Saturday "competed well against ESPN's national telecast, particularly in camera coverage." Announcers Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings were "on target describing the tense ebb and flow" of the game. Altitude will "compete with TNT during Tuesday and Sunday coverage and with ESPN2 on Friday" (DENVER POST, 4/22).
TOO HOT TO HANDLE: ABC aired Lakers-Spurs yesterday instead of the opening game of the Heat-Bucks series, and in Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman noted with "only two ABC slots on opening weekend, an argument could be made that the chance of a blowout was too risky." The fact that Bucks-Heat Game 2 is on NBA TV "says that the NBA networks' current approach is anyone but the Bucks" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 4/20).
NOTES: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted when the Nets play at the same time as the Mets during the playoffs, they will be "booted off" WFAN-AM to WBBR-AM. There also is a "chance, depending on the sked, select games could be heard" on ESPN Radio N.Y. 98.7 (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/21)....In N.Y., Marc Berman notes MSG Network recently "restarted using its court-side microphones to pick up the players’ oncourt utterances, and it’s been a boon for the viewer late this season" (N.Y. POST, 4/22).