Saturday, June 10, 2006

 

Finals' Format Fails

If these NBA playoffs have done one thing, they have shown that the NBA needs to take a long hard look on how they structure their postseason. David Stern has already said that their will be some changes to the seeding due to the fact that the Mavericks ended up being the four seed despite having the second best regular season record.

That, however, isn't the only issue the NBA needs to look at. The issue that really needs to be looked at is why the NBA Finals needs to have a different home and away set up than every other series in the playoffs. Most seven game series in the NBA and all other sports has this format: 2-2-1-1-1. This meaning the first two games are played at home, the next two are away and then home, away, home or visa versa. This seems like the most logical way to conduct series other than alternating home away for each game which isn't really practical.

For some reason the NBA decided some years back that the Finals would have a 2-3-2 format. But why and most importantly, who does the format help the most? I emailed several sports writer and the best answer I got back was from Dan Lebatard of the Miami Herald. He said the league does this to cut down on traveling because of the likelihood that one team would be from the East coast and the other from the West coast. I would agree with this except the NBA Finals aren't played like other playoff series

In all other playoff series, there is only one day of rest between games but in the Finals, the NBA puts in two days of rest. Even with cross country flights, two days is plenty of time for traveling.

I believe the format change gives a big advantage to the team without home court advantage (Miami). With the three consecutive home games, Miami has an excellent chance to take all the momentum in the series and put the Mavs at the brink of elimination without the Mavs losing a home game. Jack Ramsey agrees in his interview with Avery Johnson on ESPN Radio. Dan, however, disagrees.

He states that Dallas would have the advantage because they would potentially have two shots to close out the series at home in games 6 and 7. The only problem with that is it forces the Mavs to win in Miami which completely negates the home court advantage they worked so hard to get. I'm not trying to rip on Dan and in all likelihood the Mavs can take a game in Miami. In fact, since the system has been put in place, the only team has won all three consectuative home games was the 2004 Pistons. Even with that said, the fact of the matter is it is dumb to change the format for just one series and it does give Miami the opportunity to take control of the series on their home court.

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