It's out with the new and in with the old for the NBA. According to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, the Association's competition committee voted unanimously to switch the NBA Finals' current 2-3-2 format back to 2-2-1-1-1.
Sources: Competition Committee votes unanimously to return NBA Finals to 2-2-1-1-1 format. Owners' approval to come.— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) September 29, 2013
"The idea was raised at the Competition Committee and was well-received and the committee ultimately unanimously voted to recommend the change in format," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said, per the Associated Press (via NBA.com).
Team owners are expected to vote on the subject at their next meeting in October. If approved, the change will be implemented in time for the 2014 NBA Finals.
Pending final approval by the owners, the return to the 2-2-1-1-1 Finals format will go into effect this season.— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) September 30, 2013
The NBA has been using a 2-3-2 format in the Finals since 1985, at the behest of commissioner David Stern. "Long commercial travel" was considered "tedious" at the time, particularly in Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics Finals, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst, and moving to a 2-3-2 series structure limited the number of trips participating organizations would have to make.
Those who support the change believe home-court advantage isn't as relevant within a 2-3-2 blueprint. They argue that it gives the lower seed an unfair advantage—and to an extent, they're right.
One loss in the first two games of the series already puts the favorite at a "disadvantage." Knowing that it'll play three consecutive games away from home thereafter increases the difficulty of an already tough task.
The Miami Heat won Games 6 and 7 on their home floor this past year after falling behind the San Antonio Spurs 3-2, but per Windhorst, they were just the fourth team in 29 years to accomplish the feat.
Changing the current makeup stands to pay huge dividends for the league as well. Lower seeds will now host Game 6 on their home floor, increasing the likelihood that series be pushed to seven games. That is, without a doubt, in the best interest of the NBA from a business standpoint.
Should the NBA switch back to a 2-2-1-1-1 format for the NBA Finals?
Consistency is also at the heart of this alteration.
Returning to the original format also keeps in theme with the rest of the playoffs. All other series abide by the 2-2-1-1-1 format.
Increased travel could make for jet-lagged players, but that holds true for the rest of the postseason. Deviating from what is the actual norm when the lights are brightest and stakes are highest makes little sense.
Soon enough, it (likely) won't be an issue.