TNT's presentation of Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls scored as the fourth most-watched basketball game in cable history.
With its coverage of the May 18 contest during which LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the Heat knotted the series and wrested home court advantage from Derrick Rose and the Bulls, TNT averaged a 6.1 U.S. rating and 10.04 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.
In the annals of all-time cable NBA playoff Nielsens, TNT's Wednesday night telecast trails only Game 1 of the Miami-Chicago series on May 15, which drew a record 11.1 million viewers; the 10.8 million who watched the final All-Star Game appearance by Michael Jordan on Feb. 2, 2003; and the 10.08 million for Game 3 of the 2009 Eastern Conference finals between Cleveland and Orlando on May 26, 2009.
Gauged against its comparable telecast -- the second Western Conference finals conference between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns on May 19, 2010 -- TNT notched a 42% rise from that airing's 4.3 rating. TNT and ESPN alternate conference final coverage under their current NBA rights deal.
To date, TNT's coverage of the 2011 NBA postseason is up significantly over last year, averaging a 3.2 rating (28%), 5.13 million viewers (32%) and 3.72 million households (30%).
Already on pace to deliver the largest NBA playoffs audience in cable history, the "drama" network could benefit even more if the Bulls-Heat series, which resumes on Sunday May 22 at 8:30 p.m. (ET), extends to a sixth and/or seventh game.