Doris Burke JJ Redick Mike Breen Photo via ESPN. Edit by Liam McGuire, Comeback Media.

ESPN is getting a first look at its own NBA super team this spring as its new top broadcast team of Mike Breen, Doris Burke, and JJ Redick goes through its postseason debut.

The past year has seen significant turnover in ESPN’s NBA booth after the network laid off Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson before their replacement, Doc Rivers, dumped the worldwide leader to return to coaching midseason. Given the condensed timeline on which this new trio has to acclimate to one another and deliver high-level NBA postseason television, they are passing with flying colors.

Redick and Burke are a balanced, if unique, pairing on the face.

Burke is the first woman in her role, so she was never a player or coach in the league she now covers. Redick has played recently alongside many of the stars on the court this postseason, retiring just three years ago. That does not make them an odd couple. Where Redick is green, the seasoned Burke can keep the pace and patter of the broadcast moving. Redick’s deep knowledge of the league as an analyst for First Take and his podcasts balances Burke’s more focused approach to the game at hand.

Already, these differences have collided. Last week, during ESPN’s broadcast of the 7 vs. 8 matchup in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament, Burke and Breen needled Redick for spending too much time on social media. It was in jest, sure, but it also seemed a subtle nudge to get Redick back on course. He jumped off the topic (Joel Embiid’s “foul-baiting) quickly.

Burke uses Redick’s recent history in the league more comfortably than she did with Rivers. She rags on Redick’s defensive limitations as a player, but she also serves him softballs to swing at as a storyteller from his time in the league.

Burke is a gracious copilot. The same can be said for TNT Sports’ top NBA game analyst, Reggie Miller, who welcomed newbie Jamal Crawford into his booth with Kevin Harlan this week for a test run. Their willingness to make space for their less-experienced, new-school partners goes a long way. You can hear Redick searching for his spots on the broadcast, and Burke is comfortable letting him take them.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been bumps.

Over the weekend, they were again on a Philadelphia 76ers game when Embiid went down on his surgically repaired left knee and left the court. While Breen set the tone with well-wishes for the oft-injured reigning MVP, neither Burke nor Redick wanted to pipe up. Clearly, they were biding their time until sideline reporter Lisa Salters could provide an update on his status.

In the chaos of a playoff game, given the broad scope of Embiid’s injury history, that is no easy spot. Still, while waiting, one could discuss the dialogue around the league’s new 65-game requirement for awards and whether that factored into Embiid playing through injury earlier in the season. If either Burke or Redick had a strong opinion about whether Embiid should have been playing at all, that would undoubtedly provide strong color for the moment. More simply, an analyst can tell viewers what to watch for while the best player is out.

The Embiid injury, though, highlighted why Breen is the MVP of ESPN’s whole NBA enterprise. He holds it all together.

Breen embraces the big moments, whether rapturous or somber. He expertly sets up his partners. We like to say games “feel big” when great broadcasters are on the call, but flow is a big part of why. It’s not so much that Breen says bang so MF loud, but more that he is never rattled. The game can surge or stall, and he still brings it. No wonder ESPN gave him a new deal in October.

Like hastily assembled NBA rosters, ESPN’s new booth often feels like two stars taking turns rather than a cohesive machine. Provided ESPN can survive another NBA team poking around at Redick for a head coaching job, they should find momentum over time.

Redick is still getting reps. He is new to calling games and live television. He is finding a groove, filling time, and avoiding dead air. We probably shouldn’t expect a catchphrase from Redick a la Mark Jackson, but having crutches isn’t bad.

Meanwhile, Burke is also adjusting to Breen. Whereas her chemistry with Mark Jones was built around exuberance, Breen is a bit more straightforward. She has to manufacture the energy more. In time, viewers will probably appreciate it compared with the relatively dry Van Gundy and Jackson duo.

Altogether, given that this booth has fewer than 10 reps together compared to the hundreds for Breen, Van Gundy, and Jackson, nobody should be concerned. Both Burke and Redick are passionate and diligent. Unless Redick joins Rivers in the coaching ranks, this new trio will settle in. ESPN and basketball fans should be in good hands.

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.