ESPN ratings up for Eastern Conference play-in games

The two Eastern Conference games in the first round of the NBA play-in tournament drew record viewership, ESPN said Friday.

Wednesday’s game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat — the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively — was won 105-104 by the Sixers and averaged 3.4 million viewers, up 52 percent from last year’s clash between the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds.

The No. 9 Chicago Bulls’ 131-116 win over the No. 10 Atlanta Hawks delivered an average of 3.1 million viewers, up 31 percent from last year’s No. 9/No. 10 game.

The play-in tournament has been contested since 2020, when it was introduced during the pandemic season.

The Heat and Bulls clash Friday night to determine which team will earn the East’s No. 8 seed and meet the NBA-best Boston Celtics in the playoffs. ESPN will air the game, set for 7:30 p.m. ET.