NBA Playoffs: Why the First Round Must Go Back to a Five-Game Format
The NBA switched the first round of the playoffs from a five-game to a seven-game format nearly a decade ago, but perhaps it's time they switched back.
A longer first round is undoubtedly an ideal way to extract every last bit of revenue out of advertisers and fans, among other sources of profit, yet there's something almost inherently wrong with the current seven-game format.
Not every change is for the better, and after 10 years, it's clear the NBA should relish the opportunity to return to a five-game format.
Two extra potential games may not seem like much, but this year alone we have already seen how quickly players can be shut down.
The extended format only provides more of an opportunity for key players to get injured and not only damage a team's postseason aspirations, but prevent the NBA faithful from being able to watch them in general.
A seven-game format in the ensuing rounds is fine, but by switching back to a five-game structure in the first round, it will provide the league with a better opportunity to see the best players make it deeper into the postseason.
LeBron James' Mouthpiece
Not only would switching the first round back to a five-game format ensure that we are subject to such ridiculous motivation tactics for at least one less game, but it would also save James—and future players like himself—the trouble of having to justify it for at least one less game.
Generate More Interest
As much as we love playoff basketball, it's dragged on to no end.
There are so many off days that can kill not only the momentum of a series, but interest.
Perhaps this season, two or more off days will fly because we were bombarded with a lockout-truncated schedule to begin with. Every other year, though? Not so much.
What makes the NFL playoffs so compelling? Beyond the fact that it's the NFL, it's a one-and-done format.
Clearly there is no room for such a format in the NBA, especially in the Finals, but postseason basketball already lasts long enough.
Additional first-round games only provide the owners with a chance to sell more tickets and make more money, which they clearly aren't doing if we are to believe they're losing money.
We're not even talking about trimming down the latter rounds, just the opening ones. It makes the first round itself more exciting to watch while ensuring we reach the later, more championship-relevant rounds faster.
Series sweeps are still not uncommon in the first round, which is exactly why the five-game format works better.
Being down 3-0 in the later rounds is disheartening enough, but if a team has made it through to the later rounds, they at least know what it takes to win postseason games. That's simply not the case in the first round.
Falling behind 3-0 in the opening round is as low as it gets. Sure, it provides a team with the opportunity to make history, but more often than not, it just beats an organization into submission.
This isn't a "put teams out of their misery" argument, but it is a "why force us to watch a listless Game 4" one.
If a team is down 2-0, though, and facing elimination, there's still hope. A win in Game 3 puts them right back in the series and gives them something meaningful to play for.
The NBA should not condone teams that give up when down 3-0 in a best-of-seven, but they should at least ensure they aren't placing teams in a position to do so.
The whole point of a seven-game series is to provide each team with the best opportunity to come out ahead. However, that does not hold true in the first round.
While the level of talent between fourth and fifth seeds is usually minimal, the same cannot be said for the rest of the first-round matchups.
When you have No. 1 seeds playing No. 8 seeds, No. 2 seeds playing No. 7 seeds, and so on, more often than not, the inevitable is only being prolonged in the opening.
We love a good upset, and the Grizzlies of last season have proved it can be done, but the underdogs are at a severe disadvantage in within the seven-game format.
Though, in theory, the better team should prevail, the current format heavily favors...well, the favorite.
Five games is more than enough time for a deserving team to put away an inferior opponent, and if that same format makes series upsets more feasible, why not capitalize off it?