NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — NBA owners unanimously voted Wednesday to change the NBA Finals format from 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1.
The change will take effect with this season’s finals after it was approved during the preseason board of governors meetings. The league will add an extra day between Games 6 and 7.
The current format was instituted in 1985 in part to ease the amount of cross-country travel with the Celtics and Lakers frequently meeting for the championship. But critics felt it gave an edge to the lower-seeded team.
“There certainly was a perception … it was unfair to the team that had the better record, that it was then playing the pivotal Game 5 on the road. So this obviously moves that game back to giving home-court advantage to the team with the better record if it’s a 2-2 series,” Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said.
The higher-seeded team will host Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The lower seed gets Games 3, 4 and 6, following the same format the NBA uses in all other rounds.
The change to the 2-3-2 format was one of the earliest made by Commissioner David Stern, who has often said he was acting on advice — or complaints — about the travel from former Celtics boss Red Auerbach. But with commercial travel long since replaced by charters, teams didn’t have the same difficulties now with the number of flights.
Instead, the ones who had the higher seed found it more inconvenient, Stern said.
“In a 2-3-2 series … it’s difficult for the better team in terms of record to spend eight days on the road away from home,” Stern said.
Silver, who will become commissioner after Stern retires Feb. 1, is a proponent of the 2-2-1-1-1 format, though he said Stern and other league executives all thought it was time for the change.
“It reached a crescendo where basketball people thought it was important and the business people stood down and said it was no longer necessary for the convenience of transportation or the media,” Silver said.
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