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NBA Finals Format Could Save Golden State

June 10, 2015

The Cleveland Cavaliers led the NBA Finals 2-1 over the Golden State Warriors after they held on to win on Tuesday night 96-91 in Game 3. This season the NBA returned to is format of 2-2-1-1-1 for the finals for just the second time after previously using the 2-3-2 format since 1984.

Last year the format did not matter as Miami split two games in San Antonio to open the series, then the Spurs defeated the Heat twice in Miami and ended the series at home with a win in Game 5.

However, this season that could be different. If the format was still 2-3-2, the Cavaliers would be leading 2-1 with another two games to be played in Cleveland and the Cavs could knock of the Warriors without even returning to Golden State.

The old format of 2-3-2 did not make much sense since the previous rounds each year were all 2-2-1-1-1. The change however was made to make the series longer, which would help increase TV ratings, in theory.

The league wants a series to go at least six games and dreams of a final series always going seven games.

Despite the series in 2013 going all seven games, it did not work out that often. Since 1994, only four series have gone seven games. Over the past 16 seasons, the Finals have had only three series go 7 games while five went 6 games, 5 went five games and two were four-game sweeps.

With two many 4-game sweeps and 5-game series, it does not make the money or ratings television executives are looking for.

The 2-3-2 format first went into affect back in 1985 when the Boston Celtics played the Los Angeles Lakers during the Magic-Bird era. The format did not work, as since it was started in 1985 there have been nearly as many 4-game sweeps as there has been 7-game series.

Players and coaches complained that home court advantage was nullified under the 2-3-2 format, as the team with home court advantage had to play 3 straight on the road. In 2013, Miami split the opening two games on the road at Oklahoma State.

The Heat then won the next three at home to win the title. The reward the Thunder received for having a better record during the regular season was playing three of the five games in the NBA Finals on the road.

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