Ultimate 2017 NBA Finals Viewer's Guide

2:01 | NBA
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Wednesday May 31st, 2017

Sports television production staffers such as Tim Corrigan always root for length when it comes to a championship series and while his isn’t a name you’ll instantly recognize, Corrigan is arguably the most important person at the NBA Finals away from the court:

He will produce the ESPN/ABC coverage of the Finals. 

This is the 10th NBA Finals for the team of Corrigan, a senior coordinating producer for the NBA on ESPN, and game director Jimmy Moore, and both men will tell you they approach the NBA Finals with a singular mantra: Every game is it’s own story. “I’m hoping for a seven episode mini-series,” said Corrigan.

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One of the advantages the Corrigan/Moore crew will have when the Cavaliers and Warriors tip off Thursday at 9 p.m. ET is that they have produced dozens and dozens of games over the past three years at Oracle Arena and Quicken Loans Arena. The crew is very comfortable with the facilities and each of the teams, which should lead to a very strong broadcast. The goal of any A-level sports television group is to match the moment, and ESPN/ABC’s group last year for Game 7 was exceptional. In the key moments of the game—LeBron’s block of Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving’s go-ahead three-pointer with 53 seconds left, LeBron’s attempt at a tomahawk dunk and hard fall to the floor—the production team offered keen observations and multiple replays including a close-up so fine that you could clearly see the American flag on the backboard during that blocked shot.

“The beauty of working at this level is our crew is handpicked and they are as engaged on this project as we are,” Corrigan said. “They know the players, the mechanics of what they are known for, and the nuances of individual stories. This crew will do a very good job reacting when they see something.”

“Last year was just a spectacular series and given we have a front row seat to that, it’s our job to make sure the fans do as well,” Moore said. “As far as the actual coverage, we review each Finals and see what we can improve on. We feel pretty good about last year’s series. We tried to put ourselves in the right place for the documentation and a quality game on the court helped us achieve that.”

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(The one thing Corrigan regrets from last year’s coverage? He wishes ESPN/ABC had a blimp in Cleveland for overview shots of the city. They had cameras on top of buildings in Cleveland and outside the arena but, as Corrigan said, “it might sound crazy but sending the blimp could have been interesting.”)

If you are interested in production touches, Corrigan said the this year’s coverage will have a dedicated camera on LeBron and will also have camera operators (not surprisingly) very active on Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Players will be mic’d for Games 2 and 3, though those players are still to be determined.

Corrigan said Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson is someone who will get a camera on the offensive end given his relentlessness on rebounds.

“His skill is to be relentless and seeing the effort and energy that he expends during a game, going for loose balls or rebounds, you can’t track that as well unless you have a camera on him,” Corrigan said. “The last couple of years he has been an interesting story and we found a camera for him.”

Corrigan said there will definitely be a conversation with the announcers comparing James and Michael Jordan should James be in a position to win the series.

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Mini-viewers guide for the series

What is the NBA Finals broadcast schedule?

Courtesy: Sports Media Watch/ sportsmediawatch.com

The NBA Finals will be available on ABC, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN App.

Who will broadcast the Finals?

Mike Breen (play by play), Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson (analysts) and Doris Burke (sideline) will call their eighth Finals together. Steve Javie will serve as an officiating analyst.

What about the radio broadcasters?

Marc Kestecher, Hubie Brown, Marc Stein will work the game for ESPN Radio. This is the 22nd season for ESPN Radio as the exclusive national radio broadcast home of the NBA Finals. The onsite pregame on-site studio show will be hosted by Kevin Winter with analyst Jon Barry.

Any interesting broadcaster facts?

This is Brown’s 16th NBA Finals, the most ever for an analyst (television + radio combined). Breen’s 12 NBA Finals are the most ever for a television play-by-play commentator. Van Gundy’s s 11 NBA Finals are most ever for a TV analyst.

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Why this does this group of broadcasters work for ESPN?

Said Jackson: “Tim Corrigan is a special guy that really is the point guard behind the scenes and controls stuff. But I don’t take it for granted, the relationships. The reason why is because as a fan of sports in general I have listened to two-man booths and three-man booths and you read the stories of how they couldn’t stand each other and the lights come on and they sound great and did a great job. But the lights go off and they go their separate ways. What you see with us during the telecast is the same thing you would see with us sitting at a dinner table or breakfast table. We really enjoy one another, and the feelings spread out the telecast. And there is nothing but true love throughout this group, and it’s something I don’t take for granted.”

What about the pregame show?

NBA Countdown (Michelle Beadle, Jalen Rose, Chauncey Billups and guest analyst Paul Pierce) will air for pregame and halftime shows. The network said NBA Countdown will start one hour before most games, with the first 30 minutes airing on ESPN and then 30 minutes airing on ABC leading into tipoff.

Any unique streaming options for ESPN?

ESPN3 will provide a second-screen digital offering to viewers during NBA Finals pregame coverage and postgame coverage, which will include a live look at pregame warmups, layup lines, and natural sound from the arena prior to the game. ESPN3 will also carry postgame press conferences and exclusive postgame shows.

What about NBA TV?

The network will air a 90-minute “Live At The Finals” pre-game shows and nightly post-game coverage. On-site studio coverage features TNT’s Inside the NBA analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, pairing at times with Kevin McHale, Isaiah Thomas, Chris Webber, Grant Hill, Steve Smith, Dennis Scott and Brent Barry. NBA TV will have two sets on site from both venues, one from inside the arena (hosted by Matt Winer) and from an outdoor location, hosted by Casey Stern, Jared Greenberg or Vince Cellini. Kristen Ledlow (Cavaliers) and David Aldridge (Warriors) will report throughout the series.

The NBA TV analyst schedule:

Games 1-2: Kenny Smith, Grant Hill and Isiah Thomas

Games 3-4: Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber

Game 5 (if nec.):  Hill, Brent Barry and Steve Smith

Game 6 (if nec.):  Hill, Smith and Kevin McHale

Game 7 (if nec.): Hill, McHale and Thomas

The Starters will have an on-site presence throughout The Finals with new episodes airing Monday-Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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What is Van Gundy looking forward to in the series?

“I’m absolutely fascinated to see how often Mike Brown praises Cleveland management and ownership for a great job that they did and how well they treated him while behind the scenes wanting to bust their ass for firing him after one year,” Van Gundy said. “I can’t wait to start cliché counting, because having been fired I know that you’re not fans right away of the people who let you go. So that he gets a chance to coach against them in a Finals, I believe in my heart that he is absolutely ecstatic over having that opportunity.

“On the floor, Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry. Well, Steph Curry won’t guard Kyrie Irving I wouldn’t think that much, but both teams switch enough that you’re going to see different matchups all the time. I think the thing that I’m really looking forward to is watching Kevin Durant guard multiple positions. He’s been an outstanding defender this year. He’s got great length, and I’m going to absolutely cherish watching he and LeBron James, two of the best small forwards of all time, matching up in this series.”

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