So many compelling story lines helped the Miami Heat’s 103-100 Game 6 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs earn a 14.7 overnight rating, according to Nielson, and becoming the fourth highest-rated NBA Finals game ever on ABC.
The Heat staved off elimination and avoided losing two of their last three NBA Finals appearances, through LeBron James’ will, Ray Allen’s three-point shooting and Chris Bosh’s defense. The Spurs, often praised for the model of consistency, suddenly became a team that unraveled at every turn. Tim Duncan remained scoreless in the fourth quarter. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich kept him off the floor in two late possessions that may have contributed to Miami getting two offensive rebounds. Tony Parker disappeared. Manu Ginobili remained a train wreck.
But all of this pales to the Lakers’ Game 7 win in the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, which earned a 18.2 rating and remains the highest viewed Finals game on the ABC network.
In that contest, many of interesting things unfolded. Kobe Bryant overcame a 6 of 24 shooting clip by grabbing 15 rebounds. The former Ron Artest validated his arrival with the Lakers by posting 20 points on seven-of-18 shooting and holding Boston forward Paul Pierce to 18 points on a five-of-15 clip. Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher also made critical shots down the stretch.
That seems like a distant memory for the Lakers, who have lost early in the playoffs in three consecutive seasons and have tried maximizing a talent albeit aging roster.
The Lakers’ Game 5 elimination loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals also drew a 15.5 rating, the second highest mark on the ABC network.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org