Wednesday we find out for sure if when the NBA Finals tip-off in June there will be something different besides just Adam Silver doing the Commissioner’s press conference.
Wednesday the NBA’s Board of Governors — made up of the NBA team owners — will vote on returning the NBA to a 2-2-1-1-1 format. It is expected to pass; it comes with the unanimous recommendation of the competition committee. And the switch would start with the next Finals in 2014, reports NBA.com.
The NBA switched the current NBA Finals to the 2-3-2 format in 1985 — the NBA was growing fast thanks to the Magic/Bird rivalry and now nearly every newspaper in the nation sent someone to cover the series. Those papers complained about the costs of the flights, plus at the time even the teams flew commercial so the extra flights were hard on everyone.
Now the players fly charter and how the media covers the Finals is different. That old format is not fair to either team — if you have the best record you should have a crucial Game 5 at home, and if you’re the lesser team having to maybe close the series out on the road in Game 6 or 7 can be brutal (ask the Spurs).
This change would bring the Finals in line with all the other playoff series. Our own Dan Feldman did the research and said don’t expect a big difference.
In terms of which team wins the series, it doesn’t matter. Essentially, the NBA is changing the order the favorite and underdog get their third home game. I don’t see a reason that switch would affect the likelihood either team wins the game, and the numbers back me up.
2-3-2 Finals (1985-2013, 1953, 1949)
Underdog third home game: 15-12 (56 percent)
Favorite third home game: 13-6 (68 percent)
Other Finals (including 1956, when the teams switched cities after each game)
Underdog third home game: 15-9 (63 percent)
Favorite third home game: 21-11 (66 percent)
That’s practically the same and well within random variance. The road to determining the champion might wind a little differently, but the destination will be the same either way.