NBA Finals: Why Is There a Two-Home, Three-Away, Two-Home Game System?

Andrew Robeson@SportswriterguyAnalyst IIJune 7, 2009

DENVER - APRIL 19:  NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks to the media prior to the tip off between the New Orleans Hornets and the Denver Nuggets in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on April 19, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The other day I made the mistake of predicting the Orlando Magic winning their series against the Lakers in six games.

My reasoning? Well, I thought the Magic would beat the Lakers, but thought the Magic could not beat the Lakers in Game Seven in Los Angeles.

"So why could they win Game Six in L.A.?" my friends quickly asked me.


After watching several playoff series go to seven games, I had gotten accustomed to the system of two-home, two-away, one-home, one-away, one-home the NBA uses before the Finals.

So that got me wondering. Why does the NBA change the format for the Finals?

The first thing I found out was that the NBA made the switch to the current format for the Finals in 1985. Guess which commissioner made that decision?

David Stern.

At the beginning of his job as commissioner, Stern made the decision to move the current system because "[it] reduced travel and would give players more rest and encourage media attendance."

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Paging David Stern: Travel methods have gotten a lot better since 1985. Oh, and the media attendance is not really a problem anymore.

Personally, I prefer the system the NBA uses throughout the playoffs. It gives the away team three games to win on the road before their final game at home.

As a player or coach, I would much rather have three chances to win the away game necessary for an underdog to win a series before my final home game.

If the Magic lose tonight, then they must win all three of their home games and then return to L.A. to win Game Six or Game Seven. Or they could win two at home and then win both Game Six and Game Seven, but the likelihood of that occurring is small.

The current system for the Finals gives an advantage to the home team that is greater than four home games. It makes it very difficult for the underdog to win unless they win one of the first two games.

Anyone who watches the playoffs knows that home court advantage grows as a series gets older. The fans in L.A. will be much crazier in Game Six than they were in Game One.

So why doesn't the NBA switch to the format used for the playoffs prior to the Finals?

I do not expect you to be surprised by the answer, as it is obviously money.

But now it must be shown how the current system produces more money, which just helps illustrate why it is unfair.

The current system guarantees a longer series. It makes it less likely that the home team will win its first two games and then win two of the next three on the road. Thus, instead of a five-game series, it makes it more likely there will be a six or seven-game series.

At the same time, it makes it less likely that the away team will be able to win the series as previously mentioned.

What the NBA fails to realize is that even if they were to go to the two-two-one-one-one system, the series is still likely to go to at least six games. However, this system gives the away team a more fair chance at winning.

Everyone knows David Stern loves money, and he has done wonders for the NBA in his 25 years as commissioner. But it is time that the NBA fixes the Finals. Especially since we do not have to worry about travel or media coverage anymore!

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