Breaking Down the Mavs' National Television Schedule

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavs only have 8 nationally televised games this coming season, down from 17 last season. What gives? Let's break down some of the reasons why that might be.

Seems kind of crazy that Dallas at Houston on the first Friday of the NBA isn't on national TV.

- Josh Bowe, initial schedule thoughts, August 6, 2013

The biggest Mavericks narrative I've seen in the immediate aftermath of the schedule release is nationally televised games. Or, as Kirk has often said: "how far we done fell."

Here's the breakdown of national TV games by team. Not including NBA TV games, the Mavs will play only eight nationally televised games. This is down from 17 nationally televised games last season. Eeesh.

As a Mavs fan who currently lives in Dallas, this doesn't affect me terribly much. But as a Mavs fan who used to live in California and watch on standard definition League Pass, or League Pass broadband, I know that national TV games are special for non-home-market fans. Eight games is disappointing in that respect.

But let's put this into some context. I asked a non-Mavs fan friend who is well versed in the NBA what teams he thought were about the Mavs' equivalent last season, just off the top of his head, not taking stats or anything into account. His response was "Lakers, Celtics, Philadelphia."

Looking at the above breakdown by team, you'll see that Boston plays just three nationally televised games (down from 18 last year) and Philly plays none. The Lakers play TWENTY-FIVE (same as last season).

Of some of the other major media market teams (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago), the Clippers play 21, the Nets play 17, the Knicks play 25, the Bulls play 24. All these teams made the playoffs and most have exciting/interesting storylines or players to watch, so that makes sense.

I think the Lakers and the Celtics probably ARE the best comparison for where the Mavs can or should be in national TV priority, based on major media market presence, superstar presence, and strength of the team itself. Yes, the Lakers and Celtics both made the playoffs, but you can argue that they did no better or worse than the Mavs would have done, had they picked up the extra 3 or so games they needed to get that eighth seed.

Going into this season, the Celtics lost some draw with their big offseason trade and are expected to be in something of a rebuild mode, so their fall from 18 to 3 makes a little more sense. But the Mavs didn't really lose much, if anything, in the way of draw (Dirk was the draw, still is) and their offseason moves should make them a little more competitive even, so their fall from 17 to 8 seems a little more bizarre, missing the playoffs last year notwithstanding.

The Lakers are the Lakers, and are wildly popular nationwide. And as a Cowboys fan, I'm forced to reluctantly concede that even mediocrity gets ratings when you're that popular. So while I'd like to complain about the amount of games the Lakers have, it does makes sense, from a pure unadulterated capitalism perspective.

In the end, I would argue that there are probably a handful of additional matchups that really should be on that national TV schedule for the Mavs, that opening Friday Houston game being a prime example, or (in the alternative) that the Lakers are being a little too blindly rewarded for just being a brand (which is true) when realistically they're no better or worse than the Mavs. But also in the end, it's not my money lost if a game isn't getting ratings.

Let's end on somewhat of a high note though. Our own Kirk Henderson sent me some thoughts on this:

8 national TV games is a bit weak, however most are during the prime stretch of the season. No football on and it'll be during the playoff chase.

Well then! What, there's more?

The schedulers did Dallas no favors down the closing stretch, with that west coast road trip being a son of a bad word.


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