Previously, the team with the home court advantage would get the first two and potentially, the last two games played at home, and play at the opposing teams home court for games 3, 4, and 5. Now, the team with home-court advantage still gets the first two games of the Finals at home, the next two away and then the teams with alternate cities of the last three games, if played. Clearly, if four games are won by either team by game 4 or beyond, the finals will be done.
NBA owners voted today to restore the NBA Finals format to 2-2-1-1-1, starting this season, and unanimously replaced the previous 2-3-2 format used since 1985.
Not just the playoffs, but the first three rounds of the playoffs follow the 2-2-1-1-1 format. Another change is that if the Finals goes seven games, there will be an extra day between Games 6 and 7. For example, if Game 6 is on a Monday, Game 7 will be on Thursday.
“There has been an abiding sense amongst our teams,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said, “and they’ve stated two things: One, in a 2-2 series, it’s sort of not fair for the team with the better record to be away. And two, it’s difficult for the team — the better team in terms of record to spend as many as eight days on the road away from home. So for all those considerations and many others, the Competition Committee voted, it was explained to the owners, and they voted to make the change.”
Stern is stepping aside on February 1 after 30 years, this being the final meeting with owners as commissioner was able to announce the changes on Wednesday.
The concern of the owners translated by the committee was the team with home-court advantage playing Game 5 on the road. Statistics show that the Finals have been tied 2-2 11 times since 1985, and the winner of Game 5 has won the championship eight times.
But the home-court advantage is 21-8, since 1985. It could just be that these teams were ACTUALLY better teams regardless of where they play, but NBA owners want to keep it fair.
Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who will take over for Stern in February, said that it was unfair that a team didn’t have home-court advantage for Game 5. The format won’t likely change the outcome, but Game 5 at home has a significant edge, and could extend the length of the series. When it comes down to it, extending a series puts more money in the owners pockets and is good for business.
“You’re more likely in a 2-2-1-1-1 format to get a Game 7,” Silver said, “but you’re not more likely to get a different outcome.”
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