Tuesday night’s late NBA playoff game on TNT between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, played hours after Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banished from the sport, drew 4.732 million viewers, according to Nielsen, making it this postseason’s most-watched cable contest.
The game drew a smaller crowd than Sunday’s Game 4 of the series (6.474 million), but that was on ABC and in a higher-viewing period of late Sunday afternoon. Tuesday’s game, which didn’t start until about 10:45 p.m. ET but was still the night’s most popular cable program, likely attracted some casual viewers after the news broke earlier in the day that Sterling was banned from the NBA for life and assessed a $2.5-million fine.
Tuesday’s tune-in for Game 5, won 113-103 by the Clippers on their home court, exceeded that of Sunday night’s Game 4 of the Houston-Portland series, which averaged 4.727 million on TNT and had been the most-watched cable game of the playoffs.
The first game of Tuesday’s playoff doubleheader on TNT, pitting the Washington Wizards against the Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m. ET, averaged 4.021 million viewers. The Memphis-Oklahoma City game on NBA TV (9:05 p.m. ET start) drew 939,000 viewers.
Sterling is barred from attending any NBA games or participating in any business decisions for the team, which he has owned since 1981. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, just a few days after recordings of Sterling making racist comments were made public.
The ban prohibits Sterling from attending any NBA games, entering any Clippers facility, or participating in any business decisions for the Clippers or the NBA.
Even without the Los Angeles Lakers or other big-market draws the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, the NBA postseason continues to track well in the ratings. It was averaging roughly 4 million viewers per game on TNT and ESPN prior to last night.
Game 6 of the Clippers-Warriors series is set for Thursday night in northern California. Second-round action begins this weekend.