Opinion: NBA makes long-needed change to Finals schedule

Jack Shapiro, Author

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The National Basketball Association recently announced that there will be a major change to its traditional Finals schedule. Instead of playing two games at home, three away and two more at home (known as the 2-3-2 format), the Finals this year will be played in the 2-2-1-1-1 (two at home, two away and then alternating) format used in all other NBA playoff rounds.

My reaction, in the words of LeBron James: “It’s about damn time.”

The 2-3-2 format has been used in the Finals ever since 1985 when long flights between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics made it impractical to fly back and forth between venues five times. The new format required only two flights. But it came with a whole lot of problems.

For starters, it could be argued that the system is unfair for either team. For the higher seed, if both teams win all their home games, it will end up having to win both game six and game seven in a row to win the chip. For the away team, it provides unneeded pressure to win all three middle games in a row.

For example, last year in the Finals, The Miami Heat were able to win game six and game seven on their homecourt, but they were only the fourth team in 29 years to do this, according to NBA.com. The year before, the Heat were the away team in the Finals, and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games, one on the Thunder’s floor before taking all three games in a row at home to win the championship.

The 2-3-2 system creates an unfair advantage for the lower-seeded team in certain situations, and the home team in others.

Also, since the implementation of the 2-3-2 system, the way teams travel in the NBA has radically shifted. Each team now flies its own charter, making travel easier. There are only a few matchups that require serious rethinking of the schedule due to travel. Last year’s Finals between Miami and San Antonio or the year before between Miami and Oklahoma City were not one of them.

The 2-2-1-1-1 is used for every other playoff series for a reason. Why should the Finals be any different? It is a fairer method of playing out a series. It even encourages more game sevens due to the fact the lower-seed gets to play game 6 at home.

I’m glad the league finally woke up and saw the need for this change, and now the 2014 Finals will be played the way they should have been played for years. Now all that’s left to do is wait eight months for June to roll around again.