When the NBA restart schedule was officially announced, the first night of seeding games inside the Walt Disney World bubble was headlined by the Los Angeles Lakers facing the L.A. Clippers.
They represented the second half of a doubleheader, as Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans faced the Utah Jazz in the first overall seeding game that was played.
Although there was an expectation both the Clippers and Lakers would have some rust and stretches of sloppy play — which manifested — anticipation was ripe over seeing the top two Western Conference teams play one another.
That manifested with an average of 3.4 million total viewers on TNT, Turner Sports announced. The telecast peaked with an average of 4.1 million viewers from 6:45-7 p.m. The network’s overall coverage of the first night of the NBA restart delivered an average of 3.4 million total viewers.
It more than doubled TNT’s average viewership for a regular season broadcast. Furthermore, the doubleheader had an average minute audience of 2.9 million viewers on TNT and TV platforms, which was a 109% increase over the average viewership for an NBA game this season (1.4 million viewers).
The NBA Restart on TNT and TV Everywhere platforms matched that of NBA Opening Night coverage this season. The Clippers and Lakers were also part of the season’s first set of games that were nationally televised.
Same intensity for Lakers, Clippers
Each of the first three head-to-head meetings this season between the Lakers and Clippers was played in front of an electric crowd at Staples Center. The Clippers on on Opening Night and again Christmas Day, with the Lakers exacting some revenge in March.
The Lakers’ win capped a key weekend for the team that began by also defeating the Milwaukee Bucks.
While Thursday’s matchup was in a vastly different environment, intensity was essentially at the identical level. “It felt the same,” Anthony Davis said after scoring a game-high 34 points.
“Obviously they didn’t have two guys who really help them out on the second unit in Lou and Montrezl, but they’ve got other guys that can come in and play. It still felt like a game back at Staples. It was physical, gritty, guys were getting after it, competing on both ends of the floor. That’s what makes playing them so fun.”
LeBron James added, “You have so many competitors on the floor. Going out there and representing the purple and gold, representing Laker Nation, and those guys doing the same thing for their fanbase, no matter what the bubble is — no fans or fans — basketball is basketball and competitive spirit is competitive spirit. We got right back to where we left off.”
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