The first two games of the -Heat and the -Capitals series will be televised in nearly direct conflict with each other.
On Saturday, Game 1 of the Capitals-Rangers conference semifinals will start at 3 p.m. on NBC.
Thirty minutes later, Game 1 of the Knicks-Heat first-round series will begin on ABC.
On Monday, Game 2 of the Knicks-Heat will tip off at 7 p.m. on TNT, followed 30 minutes later by the start of the second game between the Capitals and the Rangers on the NBC Sports Network.
The passions of Knicks and Rangers fans don’t always overlap; some are fans of one team, but not the other. Still, the situation is not ideal, said Steve Hatze Petros, the N.H.L’s senior vice president for broadcast and scheduling.
“There are Knicks fans, there are Rangers fans, and there are Knicks season-ticket holders who are Rangers season-ticket holders,” he said. “If we could have avoided this, we would have.”
The N.B.A. and the N.H.L. work on playoff scheduling issues as early as March. Hatze Petros and Matt Winick, the N.B.A.’s scheduling chief, speak to each other regularly to avoid conflicts.
They have to balance various factors in designing their schedules. The leagues look at the teams the networks prefer in marquee time slots like NBC’s and ABC’s spots on Sunday afternoon; the availability of arenas that have bookings for concerts and other events; the reluctance to alter momentum by waiting too many days between games; the N.H.L.’s need to keep in mind its Canadian networks, TSN and CBC; and the hesitance by both leagues to force teams in the postseason to play games on consecutive days.
But Stu Jackson, the N.B.A.’s executive vice president of basketball operations, said that some teams may play back-to-back games in Round 2 in order to end the playoffs by June 26, at the latest.
To tinker with any aspect of the schedule for one series could affect that of another.
Hatze Petros described what would happen if action was taken to avoid a conflict with the Knicks and Rangers games on Saturday afternoon. That could have been done by flipping Game 1 of the Capitals-Rangers series with Game 1 of the Devils-Philadelphia Flyers series, which is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. on NBC.
But that would create back-to-back games for the Rangers and the Capitals on Sunday and Monday. “Why kill your sport to avoid going up against another sport?” he said.
To avoid back-to-back games, Game 2 of the series would have had to move from Monday to Tuesday and Game 3 from Wednesday to Thursday. But that would have put Games 2 and 3 of the Rangers-Capitals and Devils-Flyers in direct competition. That would then bleed into the N.B.A.: Game 3 of the Rangers and the Devils series would have to face off against Game 3 of the Heat-Knicks series — likely to draw sizable viewership because of the size of their markets and stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Meanwhile, another potential conflict looms: Game 6 of Rangers-Capitals and Game 5 of Knicks-Heat are both scheduled for Wednesday, May 9. By then, dividing your attention between two games, and two sports, will have become an art form.