NBA Finals 2011: 2-3-2 Format Favors Home-Court Advantage, NHL Got It Right
With the pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals going on tonight, I was thinking about how unfair the 2-3-2 format is for the series. The NBA has had this format for the past 11 years, and it favors the team with home-court advantage too much. The NBA needs to change the format because of consistency, money and fairness.
The NBA does the format for the first three rounds of the playoffs correctly. This is the 2-2-1-1-1 format, which gives an opportunity for the underdog to have a chance to win Game 6 at home with a winner take all seventh game. The NBA must change the format for the Finals because of consistency. If the NBA wants to commit to the 2-3-2 format, then make it the same in every round. I personally favor the 2-2-1-1-1, but if they wanted to do the 2-3-2 all throughout the playoffs, I wouldn't have a problem because it is all consistent. Changing in the final round is ridiculous and should be changed. I understand it is because of travel, which leads to my next point.
The NBA adopted the 2-3-2 to save on travel time and it works when Boston is playing the Lakers for example, but not when Miami is playing Dallas. In theory, this format setup allows for long series because a team who is capable of making it to the NBA Finals is most likely able to take two out of three games at home, ensuring at least a Game 6, if not Game 7. If the NBA is worried about money for the travel, look at the NHL. The NHL is a league similar to the NBA and smaller popularity wise, yet they committed to the 2-2-1-1-1 and have Boston and Vancouver flying cross country at least two more times in this series.
The plot thickens if Vancouver wins tomorrow night. How will each team respond from the flight? Can Boston pull it off at home to ensure another cross country trip to win the Stanley Cup? The NBA makes money by having the 2-3-2 because of the long series. By ensuring a long series most of the time, they get the maximum (or close to) for TV revenue, ticket sales and exposure on ESPN and talk radio. I have no problem with any of this, but it all goes back to consistency. If they commit to it fine, but don't change in the final round.
The final reason is that it forces the underdog to win two games on the road. With the three-game homestand, the home team can not be expected to win all three games. In the NBA Finals where both teams are capable of winning on the road and are fairly equal, the home team is bound to lose a game at home, making them win two games away from their building. Also, overcoming a 3-2 deficit on the road is nearly impossible. Even going back on the road with a 3-2 advantage is difficult to close out—just ask the Boston Celtics.
Forcing a team to win two games on the road is unfair. As the old saying goes, a team is not in trouble until it loses a home game. In this format, the team with the three-game homestand will be in trouble because they will not win all three games. If the NBA switched to a 2-2-1-1-1, then Game 6 at home is more likely to be easier for the underdog compared to Games 6 and 7 on the road. Baseball is different, and I like the 2-3-2 for the MLB because baseball is played in series' of threes. So this is just like a regular season series—with a lot more on the line.
The NHL has the perfect system in my opinion. The NBA has a great system for the first three rounds, but it needs to be consistent with their format, whether they choose the 2-2-1-1-1 or the 2-3-2. Just be consistent, but I hope they change back to the 2-2-1-1-1.
Tell me what you like better. Comment as always and thanks for reading.
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