On Wednesday, every NBA team owner unanimously voted to change the NBA Finals format. For the past 29 years, the format that the NBA used for Finals was a 2-3-2. Controversy has surrounded the format for quite some time, but now is the perfect time for the NBA to change.
“It made sense to do it now,” NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said, according to ESPN. “Events came together over many years, and it reached a crescendo. The basketball people thought it was important, and the business people stood down and said it was no longer necessary.”
The original design for the 2-3-2 format was to make travel more convenient for members of the media as well as the teams. With the way travel has evolved, it no longer makes sense for a team to have to stay on the road for eight days. This was the case for the road team if they are forced to play all three of the middle games.
The reason the format was necessary at the time in the mid 1980s was because the frequentness of the Boston Celtics playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Cross country travel was not easy for any party in a short time span.
The change will take immediate effect and will be seen for the first time in the 2014 NBA Finals. The higher seeded team will have home court for the games 1, 2, 5 and 7.
This is the right move for the NBA going forward. The team that was originally awarded home court advantage played the first two and final two games at home. The setup benefited the team that was not initially given home court advantage because if they could win one of the first two games on the road, they were perfectly set up to finish the series at home. It still proved tough for a team to win all three middle games. Only one time in the history of the 2-3-2 format did a team win all three home games in a series that went six games or more.
Last season, was another prime example of how the format showed little benefit for either team. The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat went back in forth for the first six games of the series. The Heat were able to capture games 6 and 7 at home after winning Game 6 in dramatic fashion. Once the Spurs squandered away their chance to win the NBA Championship in Game 6, history was against them. The last road team to win the NBA Finals in a Game 7 scenario was the 1978 Washington Bullets. Home teams are 6-0 in the game seven of the NBA Finals since 1978.
“There’s been a sense among our teams that in a 2-2 series, it’s not fair for a team with the better record to be away [for Game 5],” NBA Commissioner David Stern said after the league’s board of governors annual preseason meeting according to ESPN. “It’s not fair for the better team in terms of record to spend as many as eight days away from home.”
What happened to the Spurs last season was very similar to the Celtics in 2010. For a team to be able to take a 3-2 lead and then play the last two games on the road is not an easy task.
The NBA lagged behind when it came to changing their finals formatting. Both Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have already been using the 2-2-1-1-1 format for quite some time. Better late than never, but the NBA should have been able to make this much sooner than 2014.