Report: NBA likely returns to 2-2-1-1-1 format for Finals

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If you’ve never been around an NBA Finals series, know that it is a traveling circus, a logistical nightmare. The number of media runs well into triple digits at every game, there are television cameras everywhere you turn, there are fan events all over town and the demands on players’ time can get oppressive. It’s hard for the league even to get enough wifi for all the demands in the building.

Which is one reason the league went to the 2-3-2 NBA Finals format in 1985, when moving the logistical circus cross-country from Boston to Los Angeles every year seemed daunting. But it also never seemed fair — it dilutes the home court advantage and was an odd change after every series to get to the Finals was 2-2-1-1-1.

Now we could be headed back to the old system: The NBA’s Competition Committee — made up of a group of owners, general managers, coaches and one player — voted unanimously to return the Finals to 2-2-1-1-1 format, reports Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

This still would have to be approved by the owners, but likely will be.

It is not known if this would begin this season or next one, although there really is no reason not to start it this year.

The Finals run on a Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday schedule (the first game is usually a Thursday night) and that means a week in the middle city (last season San Antonio). Winning three games in a row against high level competition is hard to do even at home, but that was often the spot the team in that middle city was faced with if they couldn’t win one of the first two. They couldn’t just go home and even the series, they needed Game 5.

This new/old format is going to mean more flights for the media (the players fly charter, they’ll somehow survive) but it creates a more fair competition, especially a close series. Would Game 6 of the Finals last year turned out differently if it were in San Antonio rather than Miami? Maybe this year we’ll find out.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)