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So, with the Lakers gone, "Brooklyn’s mirthless band of mercenaries" represent "TV's best bet"

Well, it makes sense.

Posted 6/7/21 before the Brooklyn Nets crushed the rival Milwaukee Bucks in the second game of their best-of-seven series, Sportico's Anthony Crupi wrote LEBRON’S OUSTER DARKENS NBA RATINGS PICTURE; NETS ARE TV’S BEST BET:
The extent to which the NBA relies on LeBron James to power its national TV ratings is impossible to overstate, and if history is any guide, the Los Angeles Lakers’ elimination from the postseason is almost certain to derail the early gains made by the league’s network partners. But as much as James’ exit is an unwelcome development, Disney and Turner Sports won’t go down without a fight, as teams representing three of the four largest media markets remain suited up for the conference semifinals.
But there's some bright light:
As Turner Sports has dibs to this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, TNT could get a lot of mileage out of a pairing of the top-seeded Nets and Sixers. With the Lakers out of the picture, Brooklyn’s mirthless band of mercenaries is the NBA’s top draw, and a showdown between the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 media markets would automatically give TNT a leg up. (Together, the two cities account for 9% of all U.S. TV households.) ESPN, for its part, can still hope for a deep run by the No. 2 team from the No. 2 market, although the Clippers will have to get past Utah, the top seed in the West, if they are to advance to the Conference Finals.

For all the talk about Brooklyn’s well-compensated superteam, fans have only seen the occasional glimpse of what the Nets are capable of when they’re at full strength.

(Emphasis added)

Sportico suggests that, based on households likely to watch, a Los Angeles Clippers-Nets season would be best for ratings.

But ratings aren't the same as basketball. Predictions are risky, but the Nets seem to be in the driver's seat.

If the Nets cruise through the Bucks and then oust the winner of the Philadelphia 76ers-Atlantic Hawks series, do they face a strong opponent from the Western Conference, or one weakened by injuries and/or a lengthy series? 

And if James Harden comes back and makes the team even more dazzling, does the Nets' form make for more--or fewer--fans watching?

Stay tuned.