NBA Finals ratings: Mavericks-Celtics posts worst Game 1 numbers since 2021

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NBA Finals ratings: Mavericks-Celtics posts worst Game 1 numbers since 2021

The Dallas Mavericks weren’t the only group that underperformed in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals.

The series opener averaged a 5.7 rating and 10.99 million viewers on ABC, per Sports Media Watch, making it the least-watched NBA Finals Game 1 since the league hit its ratings nadir with the 2020 and 2021 Finals. Beyond those two, 10.99 is the league’s lowest number since 2007.

The 2020 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers averaged only 7.69 viewers, while the 2021 series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns averaged 8.70 million.

The 2024 numbers are a 5% decline from last year’s Denver Nuggets-Heat Game 1 and an 8% decline in ratings when compared to the Boston Celtics’ last trip to the Finals in 2022 against the Golden State Warriors.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 06: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics in Game One of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 06, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In a vacuum, it would be surprising for a Finals with the Celtics and Mavericks to underperform given the size of the Celtics’ fanbase and the star power of Luka Dončić, but the lopsided nature of Game 1 obviously impacted the numbers.

Boston was up 37-20 by the end of the first quarter and led by as much as 29 in a 107-89 win. There was a brief moment in which Dallas cut the deficit to as little as eight points in the second half, but most people tuning in midgame would have seen the event as a massacre in progress.

Per Sports Media Watch, viewership peaked early with a 6.2 rating and 12.11 million viewership during the 9:15 p.m. ET quarter-hour in the first quarter and fell precipitously.

It was an ugly night for all involved, and it’ll be on the Mavericks — Dončić and Kyrie Irving in particular — to make the series competitive. Dončić had 30 points, but on a less than efficient 12-of-26 shooting and with only one assist, while Irving had only 12 points 6-of-19 shooting. The pair combined for seven turnovers.

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