NBA Sunday Showcase Returns with Bulls-Heat on ABC

NBA Sunday Showcase Returns with Bulls-Heat on ABC

ESPN’s NBA Ratings Up 31 Percent

ABC’s NBA Sunday Showcase returns with a blockbuster matchup this weekend when the Miami Heat and LeBron James host the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose – in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch – at 3:30 p.m. ET.  ESPN’s lead commentator team – Mike Breen and analyst Jeff Van Gundy – will call the game with reporter Lisa Salters.  Kia NBA Countdown with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and analysts Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon and Chris Broussard will preview the action at 3 p.m.  Additionally, ESPN Radio will broadcast the game with coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. Hall of Famers Jim Durham and Dr. Jack Ramsay will describe the action.

Also, ESPN will televise a Sunday night contest when the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki host the San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan at 8 p.m.  Dan Shulman will call the game – also available via ESPN3, ESPN Mobile TV and the WatchESPN app – with analyst Doris Burke.

ESPN’s Van Gundy and Breen on Heat/Bulls game:

On whether this matchup is a preview of the 2012 Eastern Conference Final:

Van Gundy – “Without question.  I don’t see anybody beating the Heat in the early rounds.  Atlanta and Indiana, with their length and depth, could give Chicago a good run.  Right now, they have what it takes to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.  Even though last year’s matchup was decided in five games, I thought it was a close series.  Chicago is going to have to be a very driven team to overcome Miami’s talent.”

On the Heat as his championship pick:

Van Gundy – “They are the best team because of their talent and tenacity.  They can be a dominant team.  Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem are healthy, Shane Battier was a great pickup and Norris Cole has been a great backup at the point guard position.  They have good chemistry and a phenomenal talent base.  I think they are better than last year when Dallas beat them in The Finals.”

On the top storyline heading into Sunday:

Breen – “So far, they are clearly the top two teams in the East and both teams have a real shot at winning the championship.  It will be interesting to see how Chicago comes out after being eliminated by the Heat last season.  The Bulls know this is the team they will have to go through again this postseason.  It’s tough to get a barometer on the teams right now with so many players missing time and there is a long way to go between now and the playoffs.”

On Derrick Rose as the best point guard in the NBA:

Van Gundy – “He’s certainly one of the elite players in the league and he was deserving of the MVP award last year.  The point guard position is excellent.  Chris Paul and Deron Williams are excellent.  There are a lot of really good players.  Rose had a special season and he’s a special player.  Most importantly, it sounds like he’s a special teammate who cares most about team success.”

ESPN’s NBA Ratings Up 31 Percent

ESPN’s 14 NBA telecasts this season are averaging a 1.7 rating, an increase of 31 percent when compared with a 1.3 rating for 13 NBA games during the same time span (since Christmas) last year, according to Nielsen. The corresponding household impressions are up 26 percent (1,664,000 vs. 1,319,000) and average viewers are up 21 percent (2,149,000 vs. 1,780,000).

ESPN.com’s Heat/Bulls Coverage

This weekend’s content on ESPN.com, ESPNChicago.com and the Heat Index will include:

  • a “Hot Button” feature on which team improved the most since last season;
  • previews (including Sunday’s ESPN.com Daily Dime), photo galleries and columns leading up to the game;
  • in-game updates;
  • immediate reaction and postgame reports.

ESPN Classic: “The Heat is On”

Prior to the Heat’s matchups against the Knicks and Bulls this weekend, ESPN Classic will re-live some of the best games between the teams Friday, Jan. 27, including:

  • 1992 NBA Playoffs, First Round, Game 3: Bulls vs. Heat (2-4 a.m.) – Michael Jordan nets 56 points in a 119-114 Bulls victory;
  • 2000 NBA Playoffs, Semifinals, Game 3: Heat vs. Knicks (4-6 a.m.) – Anthony Carter hits a baseline runner with 2.2 seconds left as the Heat escape 77-76 in overtime;
  • 1999 NBA Playoffs, First Round, Game 5: Knicks vs. Heat (8-10 a.m.) – Allan Houston scores the game-winning basket in a 78-77 Knicks win;
  • 2000 NBA Playoffs, Semifinals, Game 7: Knicks vs. Heat (10 a.m.-12 p.m.) – the Knicks survive with a 83-82 win in a classic Game 7;
  • 1997 NBA Playoffs, Semifinals, Game 5: Knicks vs. Heat (12-2 p.m.) – the Heat win 96-81 as a brawl occurs with 1:53 remaining in the game;
  • 1998 NBA Playoffs, First Round, Game 4: Heat vs. Knicks (2-4 p.m.) – the Knicks edge the Heat 90-85;
  • 2011 regular season: Knicks vs. Heat (4-6 p.m.) – Amare Stoudemire blocks LeBron James’ layup with seven seconds left to secure a 91-86 Knicks win;
  • 2011 regular season: Bulls vs. Heat (6-8 p.m.) – the Bulls win the third straight regular season game against the Heat 87-86.

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