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The Timberwolves-Nuggets first-round NBA playoff series was the final one to tip off this weekend. The scheduled start time was 9:30 p.m. Central on Sunday night, but because the previous playoff game ran long, it didn't begin until 9:51, or 8:51 in Denver.

Late starts are nothing new in the postseason, but at least one prominent NBA figure voiced his disdain for just how late the games were starting, saying the league needed to better consider fans.

"I'm excited for the game, but I just don't think it's fair to have them playing that late," TNT analyst Charles Barkley said.

At the start of TNT's tripleheader Sunday — the first game of the day, Lakers-Grizzlies, was broadcast on ABC — studio host Ernie Johnson was running over the schedule, with the Heat-Bucks game to follow at 4:30 p.m. Central, followed by Clippers-Suns at 7 p.m. and finally the Wolves-Nuggets game, scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m. Mountain time in Denver, 9:30 p.m. Central in the Twin Cities and 10:30 p.m. on the East Coast.

At the end of reading the schedule, Johnson noted Barkley had "this befuddled look on this face."

"I have a problem with that game starting at 10:30, I do have a problem with that," the 11-time All-Star forward responded.

Johnson pointed out the game wasn't starting at 10:30 in Denver, but Barkley said: "That's not the point. Listen man, we had the whole day to ourselves. We should have played 1 o'clock, 3 o'clock. To have that last game at 10:30 Eastern, that's just wrong. I don't care what anybody says."

The league allots 2½ hours for games, so Barkley's revised schedule should have been 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Eastern, or 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Saturday, the playoff schedule began at 1 p.m. Eastern (Nets-76ers) and was followed by games at 3:30 (Hawks-Celtics), 6 (Knicks-Cavaliers) and 8:30 (Warriors-Kings).

However, that schedule featured three Eastern Conference games and one Western Conference game. Sunday's slate flipped that around, and the first game of the day, the Lakers-Grizzlies game in Memphis, started at 3 p.m. Eastern — or noon in Los Angeles.

Barkley has, of course, never been one to be shy to share his opinions, either on TNT's studio show or elsewhere. His concern seemed to be for the fans who would be in attendance at Ball Arena on Sunday night, although his logic certainly could be extended to anyone watching at home in Minnesota or Colorado.

"They should not be starting that game at 8:30 Denver time," he said.

This is a decades-old issue, one caused by the NBA mostly attempting to avoid having multiple playoff games contested at the same time. When the Wolves beat the Nuggets in five games in the first round in 2004 — the roles were reversed, with the Wolves the No. 1 seed in the West and the Nuggets the No. 8 — the first two games at Target Center were scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Central time on TNT. Game 4 in Denver was much like Sunday's — set to tip off at 9:30 p.m. Central, or 8:30 p.m. Mountain, on TNT. Game 5 in Minnesota? Once again scheduled for 8:30 p.m., albeit on ESPN.

The year before, the Wolves lost a six-game, first-round series to the Lakers. Two of the three games at Target Center were, again, scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Central. Game 3 in Los Angeles was scheduled for 10 p.m. Central — it started 15 minutes late and went to overtime, with the Wolves winning even though Kevin Garnett fouled out 12 seconds into OT. "Obviously they don't want any of the East Coast audience watching our game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said at the time.

Last year, the Wolves played the Grizzlies in the playoffs, a series matching up two teams from the Central Time Zone. The scheduled times for the first three games were 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Memphis and 6:30 p.m. in Minneapolis, respectively. But Game 4 began at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night at Target Center — the final game of an NBA playoff quadrupleheader that day. That foul-filled, protestor-delayed game ended after midnight.

Shaquille O'Neal, clearly content to needle Barkley on Sunday, asked him if he wanted "some cheese with that whine" before telling his fellow Hall of Famer he should go to bed if the game was too late for him.

Barkley, though, was persistent. "It's just wrong," he said. "We've got to have some respect for the fans at some point. It ain't fair for the people in Denver to be playing at 8:30 at night and they got to go to school tomorrow, so stop it. … We want kids to watch the game, don't we?"