As the Miami Heat's winning streak reached 26 last night, the NBA is juggling around its TV schedule to put more Heat games on national TV. After NBA TV added the two previous Miami Heat games to its schedule this weekend, ESPN will air tonight's Miami/Orlando game.
Between ESPN (10), ABC (5), and TNT (10), teams can be on the national stage up to 25 times per season. Each of these networks are on the verge of maxing out as Miami tries to close in on the Laker's 33-game win streak set in 1971-72. In fact, Wednesday's Heat game against Chicago was Miami's last scheduled national TV appearance on ESPN before the addition of tonight's game.
Miami's games will remain blacked out in the team's home market so as not to interfere with local broadcasts, but the league and its television partners bending the rules will give NBA fans around the nation a chance to witness history.
It will be interesting to see how the networks would respond if the Heat lose tonight or at any point in the streak (they won't). The implication is that the NBA and the corresponding networks will only be doing the Cupid Shuffle until the streak ends, and then it is back to status quo. As you can see below, right now there are four games left in the potential record streak that aren't nationally televised:
If the streak holds up, win No. 34 would come on April 9th against Milwaukee. ESPN and TNT would have already maxed out by then, with ABC maxing out on April 14 for the Bulls game so it's unknown who would get the right to air what may be a history making game. If the NBA can figure out a way to place as many games as possible on the national stage without local stations taking a hit with the record in sight, it makes sense for everyone involved.
H/T USA Today