NBA MLK Day 2021: Warriors-Lakers and Bucks-Nets’ Thrilling Matchups Have a Positive Impact On Viewership

Published 01/19/2021, 10:45 PM CST
Jan 18, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets shooting guard James Harden (13) and power forward Kevin Durant (7) high five during the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center. The Nets defeated the Bucks 125-123. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


The 2020-21 NBA season is going as great as anyone would expect, and the numbers are talking. Their strong start to the season has been capped by the incredible viewership they had for the lineup that was planned in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There were two big matchups scheduled for the special occasion, and they have both broken viewership records from last year.

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NBA viewership skyrocketed

After one postponement and one delayed tipoff, the day was filled with exciting games. Nine games were scheduled to take place of which four stood out. In the first one, the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Phoenix Suns to continue their five-game winning streak.

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Then came Victor Oladipo’s brilliant debut for the Houston Rockets that ended with a loss against the Chicago Bulls. Finally, the two matchups that had everyone’s attention were the Brooklyn Nets vs Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors.

As per Mark Medina, “NBA’s MLK games on TNT with Bucks-Nets & Lakers-Warriors averaged 2.1 million, a 31% increase from last year’s comparable coverage. Overall MLK Day tripleheader (Suns-Grizzlies, Bucks-Nets, Lakers-Warriors) averaged 1.6 million, a 26% increase from last year’s coverage.”

The two matchups

Just a month into the new season and the game of the year has already taken place. The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets showdown was a nail-biter. The Bucks lost the matchup that was going neck to neck throughout by 125-123 after Khris Middleton missed the buzzer-beater three-pointer.

Moreover, the James Harden and Kevin Durant dynamic duo was just too much to handle for Milwaukee. Both of them contributed 64 points, 18 assists, and 15 rebounds.

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Then came the disappointing game, in which the reigning champions fell to the Warriors 115-113. They tanked a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter. While Stephen Curry and Kelly Oubre Jr came up big for the Warriors, Anthony Davis and LeBron James had a slow day.

Jan 18, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) brings the ball up court as Golden State Warriors guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) defends during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

One can only imagine how enticing the rest of the matchups will be. In fact, the playoffs this season might be the most competitive and interesting because of how unpredictable the season has been so far.

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Yashima Bhatia

1215 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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