When the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder battle it out Friday night in Indianapolis, much will be on the line for both teams. The Pacers will be looking to clinch the Central Division title while also keeping pace for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Thunder, fresh off a win against the San Antonio Spurs, could be looking at first-place in the West if they were able to top Indiana.
This type of match-up is perfect for ESPN to nationally televise, right?
Wrong… I guess.
Last week the Empire decided they would rather show the Miami Heat take on the Charlotte Bobcats in this time slot over the much more intriguing contest between the Pacers and Thunder. Out goes two small television markets, in comes LeBron James and company. Bobcats be damned.
Sure, Miami was rolling on their fantastic winning streak at the time the decision was made, but just hours later, the Heat lost. Flipping the decision back to the original slated game seemed like the right idea, but not according to ESPN.
Now, as Miami is set to play the lowly, lottery-bound Bobcats, they’ll be without James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers, as all four are currently nursing minor injuries.
Not only is this an issue of not displaying two of the NBA‘s best teams, but also missing out on showing viewers some of the elite under-25 talent the league has to offer. Oklahoma City’s roster is packed with these types of players in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. The Pacers also feature one of their own as well, as Paul George looks to be headed towards stardom at the ripe age of 22.
So, hoops fans who don’t subscribe to League Pass, enjoy a relatively meaningless April game.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry