The NBA Finals will look slightly different this season as the format for home and away games changes from 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1.
Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reports that this was a unanimous decision by the league's owners:
NBA owners unanimously approve switch to 2-2-1-1-1 Finals. Extra day off between Games 6/7 for travel.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) October 23, 2013
What this switch means is that the team with the best regular-season record will host the first, second, fifth and seventh games of the series. Previously, the squad with home-court advantage would be on the road for Games 3, 4 and 5.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports quotes NBA commissioner David Stern as to why the switch was made:
Stern says it was unfair for team with better record to be away three games & spend eight days on road. "Easy sell," Stern said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) October 23, 2013
Interestingly, every round besides the NBA Finals were already in this format. However, the system is now uniform throughout the postseason with this change.
The NHL has also utilized this format for its Stanley Cup Finals and every other round.
Which is a better system for the NBA finals?
If this rule had been in place a year ago, we might have seen a completely different outcome in the NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs won at home in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series advantage, but the Heat won both remaining games in Miami to take the league crown.
Of course, the big difference likely would have come in the 2012 finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder split the first two games at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but they never returned home as the Heat took over the next three in Miami to close the series.
The new rule prevents either squad from establishing too much momentum by hosting a long string of games. Although it will cost some more time and money to travel, this creates a more even series and in turn a better product for fans.
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