I live in the Bay Area and have been frustrated by the fact that these playoff games are being shown on NBA TV. I grew up in Portland so I am used to the small media market treatment, but until this season have been accustomed to all playoff games being on a major network (including TNT and formerly TBS). And even though I often get frustrated by the out of town commentators who only have a cursory understanding of the Blazers (the great home crowd, the jail blazers, Brandon Roy, and Greg Oden's injury history) and who swing wildly towards whichever team is ahead on the scoreboard (I'm talking about you Jon Barry), watching games on NBA TV strips some of the playoff intensity from the games for me. Even watching Mike & Mike call Game 2 made the game feel like a regular season game to me. Of course, I was glad to have Mike & Mike call the game (which helps overcome the fact that NBA TV on Comcast down here is not in HD - another huge bummer) but I did wonder how their Blazer-centric call was received in Houston or anywhere outside the Blazer Nation.
Last night's Game 5 was again broadcast on NBA TV and we were scheduled to get the Blazer Broadcasting feed again. However, instead of Mike & Mike we had Rick Kamla and Steve Smith. Kamla is very passionate about the NBA and his commentating style annoys me, but he is otherwise a decent announcer. Now here's the part that gets me: all indications are that Kamla and Smith were not even at the game! I became suspicious when they never showed the two of them in the broadcast booth at the beginning of the game. At first I thought this might have been because they had to cut to the game following the Orlando-Philly game. Then midway through the half the camera shows Rebecca Haarlow interviewing Kevin Prichard, but without the audio. Kamla made the comment 'there is Rebecca Haarlow interviewing Kevin Prichard" before launching back into the play-by-play. Coming back from halftime the broadcast showed the Rose Garden in full throat and ready for the half to begin but without sound. Then while Kamla and Smith came on and broke down the first half statistics but still without any ambient noise from the crowd. I suppose it is possible that the NBA TV announcers were sitting in a soundproof room from within the stadium, but it seems more likely to me that they were calling the game from the NBA TV studios in Atlanta. Either that or NBA TV has an incredible sound guy who is able to completely cut any ambient crowd noise from the microphones.
Kamla and Smith made several references to "this crowd" during the broadcast which I found to be disingenuinous as well. Does this bother anyone else? Despite my frustrations with frustrations with national coverage of the Blazers, there are many nuances that occur during the game that you can only pick up if you are in the arena. At least ESPN/ABC and TNT have announcers and sideline reports in the crowd getting an honest feel for the game. I got a better feel for the atmosphere from the game from my buddies who were sending me text messages from the Rose Garden than I did from Kamla and Smitty's call from an Atlanta studio.
Fortunately, the next two Blazers games will be on TNT.