NBA Finals format change approved
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — NBA owners voted to restore the NBA Finals format to 2-2-1-1-1, starting this season, and replacing the 2-3-2 format which had been used since 1985.
Instead of the team with home-court court advantage getting the first two games of the Finals at home and possibly the last two at home and the opposing team playing the three middle games at home, the team with home-court advantage now will get the first two at home, the opponent the next two at home and the teams will alternate cities for Games 5, 6 and 7 if necessary.
NBA Commissioner David Stern — in his final meeting with owners as commissioner before he steps aside on Feb. 1 after 30 years — announced the move Wednesday at the conclusion of the league’s two-day Board of Governors meetings.
The first three rounds of the playoffs follow the 2-2-1-1-1 format.
Several cross-country Finals in the 1970s and early 1980s gave Stern and owners reason to consider changing the format. Remember, that was at a time when teams flew on commercial airlines rather than the team charter planes used today.
After Stern became commissioner in 1984, owners decided to implement the 2-3-2 format, easing the travel grind for players, NBA staffers, news reporters and TV crews.
Though the team with home-court advantage is 21-8 since 1985, there is concern that home-court advantage is much of a home-court advantage in the 2-3-2 format if the teams split the first two games and the team without home-court advantage gets the next three games on its home court.
In 2011, the Miami Heat had home-court advantage in the Finals but lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games, and in 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder had home-court advantage and lost to the Heat in five games.