The change in the NBA Finals format from 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1 really helps the Spurs

Posted by Ben Parker on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 with No comments

Unless you are a die hard Spurs fan or somebody who desperately wants to see LeBron James fail, you knew that the NBA Finals was going to be tied up 1-1 after two games in San Antonio. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are too evenly matched for there to be a situation in which one team takes a 2-0 series lead.  Also, by that same train of logic,  I also think it's unlikely we see a team win two games in a row. That is why this switch in format from 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1 is so crucial. It gives the San Antonio Spurs a pivotal Game 5 right on their home court, and that I think gives them a huge edge in this series even with things tied up 1-1 going back to South Beach.

In case you are reading this, not understanding what I just said, the 2-3-2 format gives the team with home court advantage the first two games at home and the last two games at home. If we were still in that format, that would mean Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals would be in San Antonio; Games 3, 4, and 5 would be in Miami; and Games 6 and 7 would be back in San Antonio. But with the NBA Finals format returning to 2-2-1-1-1 for the first time since 1984, that means that Games 5 and 7 are in San Antonio and Game 6 is in Miami. Under the previous format, with the series tied at 2-2, Game 5 would be in Miami and that would give the Heat an unfair advantage. The bottom line is that home court advantage is supposed to give the team possessing it more advantage than the team without it, and in a series as tight as this and as evenly matched as this, the 2-3-2 format actually would give the Heat an edge because a pivotal Game 5 would be in their building. Assuming they win that, all they would have to do is get 1 of 2 games in San Antonio and the championship is theirs. But since this format is back to 2-2-1-1-1 assuming the series gets tied up 2-2, a pivotal Game 5 gets to be back in San Antonio where the Spurs thrive. This gives them a huge edge to go up 3-2 and from there have a chance to close out the series in Miami in 6 or come back home for a Game 7 if needed.

The luxury of having both a pivotal Game 5 and a series deciding Game 7 on their home court is huge for the Spurs to have at this point in the series. All they need to do to make things right again is to get the split in Miami to make things tied 2-2. In the previous format, it wouldn't be that simple. They would need to take 2 of 3 games in Miami to really feel comfortable, which would be a tall task.

Ultimately, the format of this series tremendously helps the Spurs and it is the right format for the league to have. The rest of the playoff series' are 2-2-1-1-1 and making things switch to 2-3-2- in the NBA Finals just felt weird. The NHL Stanley Cup Finals does 2-2-1-1-1 and so if they can do it in their finals so can the NBA. I'm glad the league made this switch because it makes things more fair for the team with home court advantage. It may sound silly, but it is really true that this simple change in format could wind up making a huge impact on the outcome of this series. It'll be interesting to see if the Spurs capitalize off of it and get this series back to San Antonio tied 2-2.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord