The results of Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals haven’t been as close as fans wanted, but they’re still tuning in at record rates, according to numbers released by the Nielsen company and reported by AP.
An average of around 19.6 million people tuned in for Golden State’s two victories, the most since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls took on the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals. Game 2 drew 20.1 million viewers, the most for Finals Game 2 since the 1998 Game 2 in Utah.
These numbers come at a bit of a surprise to some. The Warriors won the first two Finals games by a combined 41 points, the second-highest margin of victory in Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals in the last 50 years (they set the record last year at 48). However, Golden State led by just eight at halftime in Game 1 and by just three on Monday at halftime of Game 2.
Fans want to see these teams go at it, but the Warriors have just been too good so far. The Cavs lack of bench defense combined with the Warriors’ offensive depth have killed Cleveland in the second half of both games. Oh, those Durant and Curry fellas are hard to handle, too.
I can’t imagine fans will tune in past Game 3 if the Warriors win that one by double digits, too. The games have been competitive in spurts, but the average sports fan might consider different programming if the Cavs go down 3-0 in the series.
But if last year was any indication of the grit and perseverance that Cleveland has, don’t count the Cavs out just yet.