2023 NBA Finals schedule: League moves up tipoff times for first time in 20 years

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East Coast NBA fans can rejoice as the league is expected to start every NBA Finals game earlier than 9 p.m. ET for the first time in 20 years, per Front Office Sports. ESPN announced the dates and times for every NBA Finals game, with the first game taking place on June 1 with tipoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

This is a significant schedule move that favors folks on the East Coast who have grown accustomed to 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. start times during the NBA Finals. Even during the first round of the postseason, many West Coast games start at 10 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. ET, forcing those back East to stay up until the late hours to catch playoff basketball. 

Here are the dates and start times for the NBA Finals which will begin on June 1:

All times Eastern

  • Game 1: Thursday, June 1 | 8:30 p.m.
  • Game 2: Sunday, June 4 | 8 p.m.
  • Game 3: Wednesday, June 7 | 8:30 p.m.
  • Game 4: Friday, June 9 | 8:30 p.m.
  • Game 5: Monday, June 12 | 8:30 p.m.*
  • Game 6: Thursday, June 15 | 8:30 p.m.*
  • Game 7: Sunday, June 17 | 8 p.m.*

*If necessary

The announcement of the earlier tipoff times comes on the heels of the NBA seeing a massive boom in ratings from some first-round matchups. Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings had the largest audience for a first-round game in 21 years across any network. It averaged 7.5 million viewers and peaked at 10.4 million, per Front Row Sports.

As beneficial as these earlier start times are for fans watching at home on the East Coast and in the Midwest, the one issue that the earlier start times could cause is for those on the West Coast. If any of the California teams make it to the NBA Finals, that means games could start as early as 5 p.m. local time. That could impact fans trying to get to the arena on time, as well as those wanting to get home to watch the games. We’ll have to wait and see how this impacts viewership, but clearly the league sees an advantage to starting the NBA Finals earlier than usual. 

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Publish Date:2023-04-27 20:30:03

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