Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Saturday, March 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


Mike Shara

The self-appointed geniuses who run television networks plan the national NBA broadcasts before each regular season begins. When choosing which games to air for a national audience, they plan to include some teams from smaller markets that they think will be good – Milwaukee, Utah, Denver, maybe some New Orleans. They also want to showcase the game’s great superstars – so naturally teams like Brooklyn, Memphis, Miami, Phoenix and Boston were also going to get some attention. They also need to think about big market teams that have millions of loyal fans who will watch their favorite team, even if they don’t live there anymore (or never did). That’s why, after the Knicks had such a great season in 2020-21 and the 2020 champion Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook before the season started, the networks jumped all over both team’s games. 


“It’s all coming together” the geniuses muttered to themselves as they rubbed their tiny hands together, positively beaming at the notion of America’s two most populous cities being home to four championship-level teams. The Clippers, with Kawhi and Paul George, would give Lebron and Co. a run for their money in L.A. and the underdog Knicks, led by their crusty genius Head Coach, will turn the Battle for NYC into must-see T.V. as well. How’s that working out for you fellas so far?

None of those four teams are currently even among the Top Eight in their respective conferences. Three of the  “Big Four” won’t even see games in the play-in tournament and are pretty close to unwatchable at this point. Only the Nets, having finally completed the big trade with Philadelphia, have shown any signs of life in the last month or so. Despite their poor play, Knicks and Lakers games have been dominating national broadcasts all year long. Well, that ends this week. Neither of them is on any national broadcasts this week, which dramatically increases the chances of you actually seeing some good basketball games this week. 

Monday’s ESPN games are two fantastic inter-conference battles with Denver heading to Philadelphia and then Milwaukee playing in Utah. I love games like these because you don’t see the player vs. player matchups happening here (Embiid vs. Jokic for the first time in three years, then Giannis vs. Gobert) very often. ESPN also has two more inter-conference doozies on Wednesday, with Dallas going to Brooklyn (Luka vs. KD) and Boston in San Francisco (Tatum & Brown vs. Steph & Klay). It might be a stretch to say that one of these four games could end up being a preview of this year’s finals, but all of them should be can’t-miss games. Not bad for the middle of the week, huh?

Another great inter-conference game happens Friday on NBA TV as The Bulls and Suns meet in Phoenix, as Chicago tries to prove they’re a real contender who can beat good teams on the road (something they haven’t really done yet this season).  Thursday night’s NBA TV game might be the week’s only dud, with Orlando hosting Detroit. However, it is a battle between two teams among those ‘fighting’ for the worst record in the NBA and it does feature the player who I think should be this year’s Rookie of the Year, Cade Cunningham. Seriously, if you loathe St. Patrick’s Day as much as I do (it’s just a loud amateur night, FFS), tune in to this game and just dream on how good that guy is going to be five years from now.

Remember, I’ve only listed nationally broadcasted games here. Your local team will be covered by local sports networks, so if you’re a die hard Lakers, Clippers or Knicks fan you can still torture yourself locally, but the rest of us just don’t have to be subjected to it.

Denver @ Philadelphia   7:30 pm   ESPN
Milwaukee @ Utah   10 pm  ESPN

Phoenix @ New Orleans   8 pm  NBA TV

Dallas @ Brooklyn   7:30 pm  ESPN
Boston @ Golden State   10 pm  ESPN

Detroit @ Orlando   7 pm   NBA TV

Memphis @ Atlanta  7:30 pm   NBA TV
Chicago @ Phoenix   10 pm  NBA TV

Dallas @ Charlotte   7 pm  NBA TV

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