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.
“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.
“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”
Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the
Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8
The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.
I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.
If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.
At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.
This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.
Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs
Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.
Byron Scott doesn’t see reason D’Angelo Russell should play more in fourth
The Lakers’ clear top priority for this season should be simple: develop their young stars.
Julius Randle is a beast with the ball in his hands, but a one-handed beast who needs to work on his right hand. D'Angelo Russell has shown flashes but is trying to adapt to the speed and style of the NBA game. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. can be pieces on a good team, eventually. The Lakers need to build that foundation.
“Nah. There’s really no reason to. At that particular time we’re down 30 [points],” Scott said. “I wanted to get Ryan [Kelly] some time and Marcelo [Huertas] as well and some other guys that haven’t played a lot.”
That would be 32-year-old Marcelo Huertas, who played the fourth quarter Tuesday while Russell sat.
This is not Gregg Popovich resting his stars to keep them fresh for the playoffs here. We are talking about a 19-year-old rookie point guard whose game is based on court vision, anticipation, and angles, a guy who has to learn how to apply those in a league where everybody is long and fast. He needs time on the court to adapt. Is he going to make mistakes? Yes. A lot of them. That’s what rookies do. If you coach them up, they learn from those mistakes and make fewer each time out. It’s a sometimes painful process, but it’s how rookies learn.