Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat rises for a dunk against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Saturday in Los Angeles. ((Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) )

The highly anticipated first matchup between the new-look Miami Heat and the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers drew the highest television rating for an NBA regular-season game on ABC since 2004.

Miami's 96-80 Christmas win earned a 6.4 fast national rating Saturday. That's up 45 per cent over the game in the same window last year, also a matchup between Los Angeles and LeBron James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It's the best since a 7.3 for another Heat-Lakers meeting on Christmas six years earlier.

ESPN said Monday the Celtics-Magic game on ABC drew a 4.6, up 39 per cent from the matchup between the same teams last season.

The average rating for the three games on ESPN increased 20 per cent from a year ago.

Ratings measure the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program.