LeBron James' first NBA Finals appearance marked the lowest-rated prime-time opening championship game in league history. The Cavaliers' 85-76 loss...

LeBron James’ first NBA Finals appearance marked the lowest-rated prime-time opening championship game in league history.

The Cavaliers’ 85-76 loss to San Antonio Thursday night, which aired on ABC, was watched by about 9.2 million people in the U.S., scoring a 6.3 percent rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The ABC program also failed to win the night, losing to Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” which drew about 11.1 million viewers for a 6.9 rating out of the 111.4 million U.S. households with televisions, Nielsen said.

Previously, the lowest-rated opening NBA championship game was in 2003, when the Spurs and New Jersey Nets drew 6.4 percent of television households. Last year’s matchup between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks had a 7.7 rating for its opener, while the Spurs-Pistons series in 2005 opened with a 7.2.

“The matchup is really dependent on how well LeBron plays and how many games they get,” Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports, said in a telephone interview about the ratings.

“If San Antonio wins Game 2 easily, then the pub-

lic may see this as a non-competitive series. Game 2 could be more important than Game 1.”

Game 2 is Sunday at 6 p.m.

Notes

• Former NBA player Jerry Sichting was hired as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, his second stint with the team.

Sichting was an assistant for the Wolves under coach Flip Saunders from 1995 to 2005.