TNT last night drew its best overnight rating for an NBA season-opening doubleheader since '13. The combination of Celtics-Cavaliers and Rockets-Warriors led to a 3.5 overnight, which is the best figure since the net drew a 3.6 for Bulls-Heat and Clippers-Lakers to start the '13-14 season. Last night was up 46% from the openers last year (2.4 overnight), which featured Knicks-Cavs and Spurs-Warriors. Last night featured Dodgers-Cubs NLCS Game 3, while opening night last year went up against Cubs-Indians World Series Game 1. The '15 NBA season-opening doubleheader (2.0 overnight) also went up against World Series Game 1. The strong ratings will give TNT a primetime win among all cable nets for the night, despite its sister network, TBS, having the top program in Cubs-Dodgers. The dual win for Turner Sports is likely a first for the company. Celtics-Cavs drew a 4.0 overnight in the early window from 8:00-10:30pm ET, up 82% from Knicks-Cavs last year. Rockets-Warriors in the late window last night from 10:30pm-1:30am drew a 3.1 overnight, up 25% from Spurs-Warriors last year. The NLCS matchup on TBS aired from 9:00pm-12:45am. Also strong for TNT was "Inside the NBA" following the doubleheader. The program drew a 1.2 overnight in the often soft-rated 1:30-2:30am window (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
HANDLE WITH CARE: SI.com's Richard Deitsch writes last night was "not an easy situation for TNT" after Celtics F Gordon Hayward broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in the first quarter, but the net "did very well, especially the announcers laying out after the injury." Producer Jeff Randolph and director Lonnie Dale had to "make quick decisions on the images around Quicken Loans Arena and they did it very well." There were "quick cuts to players and fans in disbelief." Randolph "showed a replay from afar, followed by a top down shot of Hayward." TNT showed the medical team "taking care of Hayward but the cameras did not get too close." On-court reporter Kristen Ledlow throughout the rest of the game "provided updates on Hayward’s condition and possible transfer points from the arena." Randolph said, "We knew it was extremely serious and we wanted to avoid any close-up shots of the injury. ... When we did show a replay, we provided a look at what happened, but from the farthest possible angle. That one replay was meant to give our audience a sense of the magnitude of what had transpired and we then returned to live action" (SI.com, 10/18). NBA writer/podcaster Sean Highkin tweeted, "Good on Ernie and the TNT crew for giving a warning before showing the Hayward replay so people could look away." But much of the reaction to TNT was negative. TSN's Matthew Scianitti: "Thanks TNT for showing me how Gordon Hayward's body can be pointed one way, and then his foot be pointed towards an alternate dimension." Raptors G Lorenzo Brown: "That should never be shown on TV or social media again." 247 Sports' Riley Gates: "Holy hell. Gordon Hayward just snapped his leg and TNT SHOWED THE WHOLE THING!" SportsRuckus co-Founder Jesse Peel: "The Cavs bench reaction told me all I needed to know about the Gordon Hayward injury...didn't need the close up TNT."