That ranks as the 12th-most appearances in the league -- 12th! -- for a team that would by any rights receive a hypothetical third-place medal, if the NBA awarded such a thing.
This reminds me of an interaction Roy Hibbert had last year during the Eastern Conference Finals:
Indeed, Roy. And we'll continue not watching the Pacers -- or not being able to as much as their play merits.
Meanwhile, the New York Knicks -- who lost to the Pacers in the second round of the playoffs -- and the Los Angeles Lakers -- who didn't win a single game in the playoffs last year and lost Dwight Howard -- are tied with the champs for the league lead with 25 games.
This isn't exactly surprising. I completely understand why teams with Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are getting TV hype over a team that doesn't have a big scoring star and led the league in defense last year. And yes, the Pacers are based in Indiana.
But it strikes me as unfortunate. We like watching good basketball, and last year's Eastern Conference Finals was great basketball, even if one of the teams involved liked to play defense more than they liked to score. And sure enough, we watched it: the series drew good ratings throughout, and Game 7 ended up being the most viewed TNT basketball game ever.
Also pooped on: The San Antonio Spurs, who, you know, ALMOST WON THE NBA FINALS, but only have 15 showings. So if you add up the appearances of the two teams that came closest to beating Miami, you get a Lakers team that will probably spend most of the year fighting to make the playoffs. Okay.
And also, the Memphis Grizzlies, who made the Western Conference Finals on the strength of the second-ranked defense in the NBA behind Indiana? They only have six national TV appearances, two fewer than a Dallas Mavericks squad that missed the postseason entirely. This is a little bit more understandable, as the Grizzlies-Spurs series had horrendous ratings. But, still!