The 2017 NBA Finals were the most watched since Michael Jordan's final title run

Warriors fans showed up en masse to watch Game 4 in Cleveland on the big screen at Oracle Arena. (AP)
Warriors fans showed up en masse to watch Game 4 in Cleveland on the big screen at Oracle Arena. (AP)

The 2017 NBA Playoffs were predictable from the perspective that the Ball Don’t Lie crew correctly predicted the outcome of every series before the postseason played out. And they were boring in the sense that many games were decided by blowouts, only two matchups reached a seventh game, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost once in the East, and the Golden State Warriors were never really challenged.

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Yet, Thursday’s deciding Game 5 of the NBA Finals drew an historic number of viewers.

The fifth and final game between the Warriors and Cavs drew a greater share of viewers than any Finals Game 5 since 1988 and any non-Game 7 in ABC and ESPN’s long history of broadcasting NBA games, per ESPN communications director Ben Cafardo. It also recorded the second-most streaming viewers in the league’s history, trailing only last year’s Game 7 between the same two teams.

The 2017 Finals also reportedly drew 20.4 million average viewers, more than last year’s epic set, the highest average viewership in almost two decades — since Michael Jordan’s last championship run and more than four times as many average viewers as this year’s Stanley Cup Finals (4.7 million).

There’s been much criticism of the competitiveness in this year’s playoffs, and even more about the Warriors’ dominance of them. There’s little reason to believe next year’s Finals won’t feature a fourth straight meeting between Golden State and Cleveland, and the Finals ratings give the NBA no reason to hope otherwise, outside of more competitive play earlier in the playoffs and a longer 2018 Finals.

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“From a league standpoint, you always want to see great competition,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said during a state-of-the-league address prior to Game 1 of these Finals. “It’s what our fans want to see, it’s what we provide in this league. But having said that, this is real life. It’s not scripted, and it happens. So, sure, the fan in me would love to see more competition at times, but on the other hand, I’ve said it before, I think we should also celebrate excellence.

“I think that people are also inspired, as I said earlier, by seeing such tremendous play, by seeing teams come together the way they have. I think their play has been inspiring. I think they have done it in the right way, and I also think these things have a way of working themselves out.”

Whether that working-out process ever results in better TV ratings, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!