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The Mavericks are one of the most-watched teams in the playoffs

A lot of people want to watch Luke Dončić

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Seemingly across the league, viewership numbers for this year’s NBA playoffs are up big, and the Dallas Mavericks seem to be a contributing factor. The numbers for the second-round, semi-final series are in, and the average number of viewers is higher than in any year going back to 2013. (The peak of Miami’s “Big 3” era.)

The Mavericks’ Game 7 dismantling of the Phoenix Suns scored 6.29 million viewers, making it the highest viewed game of the second round. Sure, Game 7 adds a level of urgency and a “must-watch” factor to the event, but it’s a big turnaround for a team that, in the first round against Utah, was regularly getting shunted to afternoon games on NBA TV while other matchups got prime time spots on national channels. It was a tacit admission by league schedulers that they didn’t think Dallas or Utah had the capacity to draw many eye balls. Well, that seems to have changed.

With Dallas filling the role of this post-season’s Cinderella, viewers seem to be taking an interest in what’s going on in Dallas and the player that seems to be the future of the league – Luka Dončić.

The trend has continued. Back in the Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks/Warriors average of 6.52 million viewers was the largest for a Conference Finals opener since this same Golden State team faced off against the Trailblazers three years ago. (A situation not unlike the one Dallas finds itself in now, as those Underdog Blazers made an unexpectedly deep playoff run.)

For the Dallas crowd specifically, the Game 1 broadcast 9.4 rating was TNT’s best rating in the market since Dallas’ 2011 shock win over the two-time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Yes, the common denominator in those two series is Golden State. (Their ability to vote Andrew Wiggins in as an All-Star Game starter shows you how powerful the California team’s audience can be.) But nevertheless, viewers are viewers, and Dallas has shown against Phoenix that they have the ability to generate intrigue in this NBA post-season that’s as wide open as it’s been in years. Hopefully, for Dallas fans, anyway, Luka Dončić and company can give the people what they came for.