TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal
Smith on Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich: “Popovich trusts his players. That’s what Games 6 comes down to…a belief and a trust. You have to go back to what got you there. If you do that, then you can move on to the NBA Finals.”
Barkley on the Spurs system under Coach Popovich: “When you play for the Spurs, you just have to do your job. You have a role.Pop’s system can make you successful, because all you have to do is play good basketball. Popovich is the best coach in the NBA because he defines [his players] roles.”
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San Antonio Spurs (112) at Oklahoma City Thunder (107) in OT – San Antonio wins the series 4-2
Marv Albert (play-by-play), Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller (analysts) with David Aldridge (reporter)
Kerr on the improved free throw shooting of Spurs veteran Tim Duncan: “There was a time in his career, seven or eight years ago, where teams were hacking him on purpose. He was shooting in the 50 percent range, but he’s worked hard at his free-throws and has overcome some mental demons that bother a lot of players in the league.”
Kerr on the fatigue of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook in Game 5 after playing so many minutes in the series: “I think it affected him in Game 5, especially defensively. These are hard minutes when you think about what he has to do for his team. He had terrific numbers, but defensively in Game 5 he did not have the edge he had in Games 3 and 4. I thought that was directly related to fatigue.”
Kerr on Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard’s ability to score: “They need that from him, particularly in this series. He doesn’t always have to be the scorer, but on the road, against Oklahoma City, they have struggled to score. He’s one of the few Spurs that can get his own shot.”
Miller on the aggressiveness of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook: “Westbrook has one thing on his mind when he gets the ball in the middle…attack the rim. He puts so much pressure on your defense. He takes a knock from a lot of people in the media for being too selfish, those who say point guards need to distribute more, but I’ve always loved his mindset in games. He’s such a tough cover.”
Miller on Spurs guard Danny Green’s shooting struggles on the road: “It’s amazing. It’s like he’s unconscious in the state of Texas, but as soon as he crosses state lines he loses his game.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, O’Neal
Smith on the speed and athleticism of Oklahoma City: “Size does not bother San Antonio…speed and athleticism do. That is the advantage for Oklahoma City.”
O’Neal on the mindset of Thunder forward Kevin Durant: “He’s playing very focused, but the other players need to step up. He’s running the court, shooting the ball well and saying to himself, ‘You know what? I’m not going to let my team down. We’re not going home tonight…we’re going to Game 7.'”
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Kerr on the Spurs sitting Tony Parker in the second half due to his ankle: “I think this has everything to do with Game 7. Gregg Popovich does not want to spend too much energy here in Game 6. Obviously, they’re going to try to win here, but not at the expense of wearing out Parker, Duncan and Ginobili, his older three. That being said, they have figured out a way to win with a lot of different combinations, and that has paid off in the playoffs.”
Miller on the Spurs without point guard Tony Parker in the second half: “I think the Spurs expect to win with Tony Parker out. During the regular season they had 30 different lineups and Popovich rested a lot of guys…they still ended up having the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. They should be able to win without him.”
Kerr on Spurs point guard Cory Joseph replacing an injured Tony Parker: “Joseph is going to be my early nominee for unsung hero because of the way he carries himself, his toughness and the way he plays. Joseph is going to play a big role here.”
Miller on the reliability of Spurs guard Manu Ginobili: “What better guy to have when you’re coach Popovich and arguably your best player goes down than Ginobili?”
Kerr on Kevin Durant’s lack of physical strength: “The one flaw in Durant’s game is his lack of physical strength to be able to take advantage of smaller defenders like [Spurs guards] Danny Green or Manu Ginobili. It’s the one thing that keeps him from taking over in a game like this one.”
Kerr on Kawhi Leonard’s importance to the Spurs: “Without that trade for Leonard, I don’t think there’s any way the Spurs would have been an elite team these past few years.”
Kerr on the pressure of an elimination game: “You can recognize the emotion involved in an elimination game, and the pressure. It’s very easy as a player to get away from what you need to do. Sometimes you try to do the spectacular instead of the basic.”
Kerr on which Thunder player he would trust to close out Game 6: “I think Westbrook is the guy to go to. You get him the ball and let him go to work.”
Miller on Spurs power forward Tim Duncan: “Want to know why Duncan’s the best power forward in the game? Not only does he have the fundamentals down low, but he has the skill-set to offset your best player.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, O’Neal
Barkley on who he thinks will win the 2014 NBA Finals: “It’s been amazing what the Spurs have accomplished. I didn’t think they could come back from last year’s Finals from a mental and physical standpoint. I think Miami is going to win the championship again. No disrespect to the Spurs. They have the best point guard, coach and fans in the NBA, but I just think Miami is going to win.”
O’Neal on the Thunder’s need to execute plays rather than relying on talent: “You can’t win a championship on talent alone. When the Spurs were going for the win [in Game 6], Pop called the play and they executed. I don’t see OKC running a lot of plays when it comes down to crunch time. They just come down the court and either Westbrook or Durant shoots. Every now and then that will work but, in order to win a championship, Westbrook has to pull back, get others involved and execute the play. The San Antonio Spurs execute to perfection.”
Barkley on Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook: “We criticize Westbrook a lot. He takes bad shots, but he’s a soldier. He can play with [me] any day. That guy is scary talented.”
Smith on what Thunder head coach Scott Brooks needs to change to reach the next level: “I think he can be harder on those guys. He can ask more from Westbrook and demand more out of Durant. They have to be more disciplined. He has to demand more, which might get under their skin in the regular season, but it will help them get to an NBA Finals.”
Barkley on the Thunder bench: “The Thunder are in great shape. They have Westbrook, Durant and [Thunder center Serge] Ibaka…but they have to get better on the bench. Their bench is awful.”
Smith on the shooting of the Thunder and Spurs in Game 6: “Oklahoma City got the shot, but San Antonio got the shot they wanted…totally different.”
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TNT’s Exclusive Coverage of 2014 NBA Western Conference Finals
Averages 6.8 Million Total Viewers, Up 39% Over 2013
Western Conference Finals Propel Network to Top Cable Audience Each Game Night
TNT’s exclusive coverage of the 2014 NBA Western Conference Finals – the San Antonio Spurs defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games – averaged 6.8 million total viewers and a 4.2 U.S. HH rating, increases of 39% and 35% when compared with last year’s Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies (4.9 million total viewers; 3.1 U.S. HH rating). TNT registered the top audience across all of cable television each game night throughout the six-game series, despite four lopsided outcomes.
This year’s NBA Western Conference Finals on TNT generated the top two sports programs of the day across all of television five times throughout the series – each game telecast and the Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA studio show. Additionally, TNT’s Western Conference Finals coverage netted significant increases across all key male demos with Men 18-34 and Men 18-49 both up 33% and Men 25-54 tallying increases of 30% over last year.
The network’s coverage of the Western Conference Finals Game 6 (Saturday, May 31) – San Antonio’s 112-107 overtime victory over Oklahoma City to close out the series – averaged 8.1 million total viewers and a 4.9 U.S. HH rating to deliver the top sports program of the day across all of television (cable and broadcast). TNT’s Game 6 telecast is up 66% and 58% compared with last year’s Western Conference Finals.
The Western Conference Finals Game 6 between the Spurs/Thunder peaked with 12.1 million total viewers and a 4.9 U.S. HH rating from 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET. The game telecast is up 21% among total viewers and 17% in U.S. HH rating over the average for this year’s six-game series. Locally, the telecast registered a 29.3 HH rating in San Antonio and a 25.2 HH rating in Oklahoma City.
Following Game 6, TNT’s Inside the NBA delivered a 2.7 overnight rating from 11:45 p.m.-12:15 a.m. to net the second highest-rated sports program of the day (trailing only the game itself) across all of television.
Additional highlights for each Western Conference Finals telecast:
- WCF Game 1 (Monday, May 19) – The game, won by the Spurs 122-105, averaged 6.4 million total viewers and a 4.0 U.S. HH rating, up 31% and 29% over the Western Conference Finals in 2013. The telecast – the highest rated and most viewed sports program of the day – peaked with 7.5 million total viewers and a 3.1 U.S. HH rating from 11-11:15 p.m.
- WCF Game 2 (Wednesday, May 21) – The second game of the series – despite a lopsided 112-77 Spurs victory – averaged 6,038,000 total viewers and a 3.7 U.S. HH rating, increases of 23% and 19% over last year’s series. This year’s telecast – the highest-rated and most-viewed sports program of the day – peaked with a 4.2 U.S. HH rating and 6.4 million total viewers from 10-10:15 p.m.
- WCF Game 3 (Sunday, May 25) – TNT’s telecast averaged 6,679,000 total viewers and a 3.9 U.S. HH rating for the Thunder’s 106-97 win, up 36% and 26% over the 2013 Western Conference Finals. The telecast peaked with a 4.8 U.S. HH rating and 8.3 million total viewers from 10:30-10:45 p.m.
- WCF Game 4 (Tuesday, May 27) – Won by the Thunder 105-92, the game telecast averaged a 4.2 U.S. HH rating and 6,420,000 total viewers, increases of 35% and 31% over the previous year’s series. The telecast – the highest rated and most viewed sports program of the day – peaked with a 4.8 U.S. HH rating and 7.5 million total viewers from 11-11:15 p.m.
- WCF Game 5 (Thursday, May 29) – TNT’s game telecast – won decisively by the Spurs 117-89 – averaged 6,942,000 total viewers and a 4.3 U.S. HH rating, up 42% and 39% compared with last year’s Western Conference Finals. The Game 5 telecast – the highest-rated and most-viewed sports program of the day – peaked with a 5.1 U.S. HH rating and 8.3 million total viewers from 10:45-11 p.m.
Source: Nielsen Media Research, Live + SD data stream for the dates of the 2014 NBA Playoffs (04-30-2014 – 05-31-2014) compared to historical dates of the NBA Playoffs on TNT. Competitive ranking compared on nights of the NBA Playoffs compared to ad-supported cable of the Western Conference Finals dates (05-19-2014 – 05-31-2014).