Blogtable: Fiddling With The Finals

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.


A Better LeBron? | Is the MVP Race Already Over? | Shaking Up The Finals Format


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.comGood, 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.comDefinitely 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 The reasoning for changing it to 2-3-2 back in the 1980s is outdated.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.comI’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 PhilippinesI 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.

22 Comments

  1. CSpur65 says:

    I like the change. Think of the travel possibilities within the conference under the 2-2-1-1-1 format – Houston-Portland, New Orleans,-Portland, Portland-Memphis, LA-Memphis, Miami-Boston, Miami-Milwaukee, No special travel considerations are made in these situations.

  2. Scott Lausman says:

    2-3-2 is geared to get to game 6 more often, ie
    3 scenarios after 4 games, only one with a game 6 in doubt, ie
    4-0: done
    2-2: game 6 guarenteed
    3-1: game 6 in doubt
    the higher seed is more likely to be up 3-1
    2-2-1-1-1 means team more likely to be up 3-1 gets home court & more likely to end in 5
    2-3-2 means team more likely to be down 1-3 gets home court & more likely to forces game 6
    since more games means more $$, if nba & tv want more $$, they should keep 2-3-2

  3. joe gtarret says:

    I want it to be best 2 out of 3, then best 3 out of 5, then best 4 out of 7! but the league is greedy. look at how they manage the web package, you cannot see sold out game on line? why would you black out a sold out game?

  4. Mark says:

    Agree with Fran Blinebury and Jeff Caplan. It seems clear that the main benefit of the 2-3-2 is less traveling and thus less strain on the players. The teams travel all year long and the other rounds of the playoffs are 2-2-1-1-1 so If they couldn’t handle it why are they in the finals?
    The other benefit of 2-3-2 is the team without homecourt advantage gets a 3 game stretch but I don’t think that makes sense given the rest of the playoff format. If a series is split after the first two games, now the other team suddenly has home court advantage where as the normal 2-2-1-1-1 format allows the team with home court advantage at least 1 more game at home giving them what they deserve.

  5. sanjay says:

    no format is perfect really. So one novel idea could be have 2-3-2 format if distance is very long like between newyork vs la or seattle vs miami. If the distance is less than 3 hours retort to 2-2-1-1 format. This can be done immediately after the conference finals akin to deciding the court side after the toss!
    why was my previous post not posted is beyond me?

  6. I have some more ideas about the NBA playoffs. Go to the above website and choose NBA Playoff Format.

    • Here’s my idea for the NBA playoff format.
      (Round 1 would be best of 5 (3-1-1) but the NBA would not do it). With that out check out the following:

      Round 1 Conference quarterfinals
      3-2-2 higher seed  5 home games
      Schedule games 1, 2, off, 3, travel, off, 4, 5, travel, 6, off, 7 travel, off

      Round 2 Conference semifinals
      highest seed remaining plays lowest seed remaining and so on
      3-2-2 higher seed  5 home games
      Schedule games 1, 2, off, 3, travel, off, 4, 5, travel, 6, off, 7 travel, off

      Round 3 Conference Finals & Round 4 Finals
      2-2-1-1-1 highest seed 4 home games
      Schedule 1, 2, travel, off, 3, off, 4, travel, 5, travel, off, 6, travel, off, 7, travel, off, off

      Schedule is 63 days which includes a day added to rounds 1, 2 & 3 for staggering the series.

  7. J says:

    doesn’t matter

  8. Karlo Garcia says:

    @ Sekou Smith-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 NBA Finals format :) LOL.

  9. Karlo Garcia says:

    The NBA Finals format from a 2-3-2 to a 2-2-1-1-1 is good because it means that it will make the road team win & put pressure on the home team(but the current format 2-3-2 i like as well because the team with the lower seed have to win 3 games in a row @ home) It is also bad because after 5 games the last 3 both teams have to travel back & forth for games 5,6,7 which means player fatigue, preparation & practice. Also with the 2-3-2 format after 2 games have been played they would stay in the city for at least the week instead of traveling for games in the 2-2-1-1-1 format going east coast to west coast.

  10. philaw123 says:

    I’m sure the media outlets covering the Finals live are gonna enjoy the return to the old format. All the added expenses from moving all those people and equipment must be a joy. And for what? To give the team with the best record home court in the crucial Game 5? Then why not just give the team with the best record home court for games 4-7? The 2-2-1-1-1 format may be leading to more Game 7s but the 2-3-2 format has been just fine at equalizing the 2 finalists making it harder to predict who comes out with the chip. It’s been around 30 years since this format was introduced without any serious complaints. Why change now?

  11. Caption69er says:

    Why change what isn’t broken?!!? This format has been like this for many years and has made the NBA playoffs so much fun to watch!! Who ever is tampering with this playoff format needs to go find something else to do REAL FANS enjoy our glorious game!!

  12. Ross says:

    I say get rid of going back and forth, and have the finals be like the superbowl – choose a city, have all of the games played in the same arena, and switch the city each year! This would put everything on a truly equal playing field, and would bring magic to the city of choice/show off that city’s culture in the process!

  13. NBA Fan says:

    Leave the current Finals format alone. It’s fine.

  14. Adetale Adewuyi says:

    Yes, Game 5 matters the most to the Better Team. It should be 2-2-1-1-1

  15. Lee says:

    Both Aldo and Davide said “think will lead to more Game 7″. Come on, find the records of 2-3-2 format and 2-2-1-1-1 and do some computation yourself? :-)

  16. Dyron says:

    my spurs were robbed! Now we want to change this?????!!! smh

    • sjh says:

      they didn’t get robbed, they didn’t make free throws and the heat capitalized!

    • Another Heat Fan says:

      your spurs didn’t get robbed noob
      the heat had home court advantage
      but 2-3-2 format minimizes the home court advantage (3 games in a row at home for the lower seed? unfair…)
      If anything the Heat were robbed against the Mavs 3 years ago.

      • Marco29 says:

        Look at the statistics, games 3 to 5 on the lower seed’s court are those were the home team has the lowest winning %. A playoff series is all about adjustments from one game to another so it is hard to win 3 games in a row even at home.

  17. artifex says:

    @John Schuhmann: In 2-2-1-1-1, 5 travels is the most!
    But I agree, that this is still much more over a max. of 2 travels in 2-3-2.
    Difficult to say, how much that influences player performances.
    Ecologically, it adds a lot of air traffic to the environment (one may argue that given the number of nba games that wouldn’t matter but it still adds, plus there is MUCH more additional media travel with the finals)

    @Fram Jeff, John: I don’t see any advantage of a game 5 for the better team, rather the opposite: in 29 years 13 finals were decided in game 6, so on the better teams court. I also haven’t found a team winning all 3 games at home! Some teams (e.g. 97 Jazz) could have gotten to game 7, but others may had decided in game 5…

    @Aldo and Davide: I don’t see reason that the change would lead to more game 7s!
    After 6 games the teams have played 3 games in each city. Though statistically, there have been more game 7s before (13/38) before 85 than after (5/29), but I question that this is a product of the system…

    On the contrary:
    WHY NOT CHANGE ALL SERIES TO A 2-3-2? Just to discuss…