Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
There’s a lot of noise that the NBA may change The Finals format from a 2-3-2 back to a 2-2-1-1-1. Good overall, or bad? Why?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Good, in a split decision over bad. The best part of a return is making the championship round consistent with the first three rounds. The NBA playoffs used to have all as many quirks as MLB — first-round byes, 2-out-of-3, 3-out-of-5 — and no one really objected, but this is more true. Still, this potentially doubles the amount of travel and time-zone changes for both teams from start to finish in a 7-game Finals, a consideration even with charter flights. Good thing incoming commish Adam Silver has 20 years on David Stern – he might prefer 2-3-2 after bouncing back-and-forth for a few Finals himself.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Yes, it’s a good thing. First, it restores home court in what I think is a critical Game 5 to the team with the best record. Second, those three straight games in the middle put an almost unfair burden on a team to often need to win three in a row. Most important, it keeps the rhythm of every other series in the playoffs. This is the 21st century. Every team flies a luxury charter. Just have a shrimp cocktail, lean back and enjoy the ride.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Definitely a good thing. The reasoning for changing it to 2-3-2 back in the 1980s is outdated. Besides that, I object to a team having Games 6 and 7 at home. At the same time, I like the team holding homecourt advantage to play Game 5 on its floor. The 2-2-1-1-1 format just makes sense to me.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Bad. It all depends on the geography of the matchup. A San Antonio-Miami repeat isn’t brutal travel, and something like OKC-Indiana is even less of a strain. But imagine Clippers-Heat or any team from the Pacific Division or Portland playing anyone from the East Coast. Now imagine the schedule breaks bad and the travel is on the calendar as the one off day, and then the teams go back in the other direction with a quick turnaround, and then back again. This will negatively impact the caliber of play. That’s bad enough in the regular season. It should never happen in the Finals.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I understand the idea that the team with the better record should have a pivotal Game 5 on its home court, but I just don’t see the 2-3-2 format as unfair. It’s just the rule that’s in place and teams have to deal with it. Winning a championship is hard and it almost always requires a road win, whether you’re the higher seed or not. Selfishly, I don’t like the idea of crossing the country five or six times to cover a seven-game series. And I’m not sure that’s best for the players and the quality of the competition either.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I’m easy, I love The Finals in whatever format they use. It could be 2-3-2, 2-2-1-1-1 or 1-1-1-1-1-1-1. When you’re getting the best of the best, the cream of the NBA crop from both sides of the conference divide, the format is of little concern to me. They could play on outdoor courts in the middle of nowhere and I’d want to see it. I do think it’s time for a change, though. Whatever travel concerns there were a generation don’t matter these days. Besides, the format for the other rounds is 2-2-1-1-1 and that seems to work just fine. It should be good enough for The Finals, too.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Is neither a choice? I honestly don’t think it matters all that much. Either way, the team with the better record gets to play four games at home and the team with the worse record hosts three games. And sure, perhaps the 2-2-1-1-1 format means more travel for the teams, and definitely for the assorted media covering the event, but free Skymiles with the end of the season just around the corner never stopped anyone from covering as many games as they needed to cover.
Aldo Aviñante, NBA Philippines: I think it will be good to go back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format — it’ll just make The Finals more exciting. The structure of the format will probably push the Finals to more Game 7s. If a team is in an elimination game for Game 6, the home team will have a better chance to extend the series to the limit.
Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: Changing The Finals format back to a 2-2-1-1-1 is a good idea and I think it will lead to more Game 7s. Three consecutive home games were a huge plus for the team without the home-court advantage — a chance to make amends for mistakes on the road and change the momentum. Obviously, going back and forth in the final three games could be a further challenge for the teams, but I think it will make The Finals more unpredictable.