Skip to content

NBA finals, Lakers Celtics: Why the 2-3-2 format?

Jun 8, 2010, 1:42 PM EDT

For the first three rounds of the NBA playoffs, Game 5 returns to the home court of the higher seed. Game 6 is at the lower seed’s building, then the teams travel again for a Game 7, back to the higher seeds home court. The 2-2-1-1-1 format.

But not for the NBA finals. Then the rules change.

Now it is a 2-3-2 format, with the lower seeded team getting the three games in the middle. It’s perceived as a disadvantage for the lower seed — only twice since the NBA went to this format has the lower seed swept those three middle games.

So why do it? Money. Money and convenience.

This year’s finals (and last year’s) mean a cross-country flight for everyone. Not just the players, but for the massive number of media, television crews, NBA personnel and more that are at the games. Putting on and NBA finals is a production, and moving that production all the way across the country is expensive and a big pain.

And in a seven-game series, that’s a lot of cross-country flights in a few days right at the end. A lot of days lost to travel.

Remember this format was instituted in 1985 — when the two teams playing in this year’s finals were playing seemingly every year. And would be for a while. The travel was less of an issue getting from Chicago to Utah in the 1990s, but the format had been set. And as the league’s popularity grew, so did the contingent that follows the finals. That meant nothing changed.

And nothing is going to in the near future, unless some kind of Star Trek transporter can be developed. Not that I would be surprised if David Stern already had one of those, he’s just not making it public.

  1. seattle tyler - Jun 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    orlando/ houston in ’95 was the closest final since ’85. actually, anytime a texas team plays in the finals it’s going to be relatively close, and any time a west coast team plays it will be very far since the western conference is so wide.
    i don’t mind the format the way it is but with chartered flights and the internet, the country is even smallet than it was 25 yrs ago and so a 22111 format wouldn’t be so bad anymore.

  2. warren butler - Jun 8, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    “I dont mind the format the way it is but with chartered flights and the internet, the country is even smallet than it was 25 years ago…” WOW REALLY… learn your spelling first, then your geography second… I didn’t know that the USA is SHRINKING OH NO! WE ARE GETTING SMALLET!

  3. Spencer F - Jun 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Yeah, as if the money “problem” is really an issue for these people who make how much money? They may as well do a 2-3-2 format for some of the conference playoffs also, I remember in ’05 when it was Detroit-Miami in the ECF, then Detroit played SA in the finals and the traveling distance wasn’t that much further. Either way, I kinda like the 2-3-2 format. It puts more pressure on the lower seeded team, especially when its tied 2-2.

  4. bill - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    The 2-3-2 format is the way it was for 30 or so years anyway and is a better format. The 2-2-1-1-1 format is too drawn out and leaves too much time between games especially in the early rounds.
    I think it actually evens out the home court a little bit especially if you can split the first 2 games. it then gives you an opportunity either finish off the series at home or put you in a position to just have to win 1 more away game even if you drop one at home. the lower seed team also gets a chance to get re-energized at home and get their confidence back if theyve been struggling. I think it makes for a more exciting series.

  5. seattle tyler - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    dear warren butler,
    i’m sorry my comment was so offensive to you. a mis-spelled word is a horrible thing to some people apparently. also, regarding travel plans, would you agree that the country is really only as big as it takes for you to traverse it?
    nevermind. you’re an angry person. perhaps church on sunday may help you more thean an nba game.
    anwyay, hvae a graet day.

  6. Erin - Jun 8, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Go Celtics Go!! I have faith in you!! Good Luck tonight~~

  7. warren butler - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:06 AM

    LOL you’re comment didn’t offend me at all stupid… it was extremely comical… just like your last post. I am surprised you even used such a word as ‘traverse’… do you even have a clue what that means? and no I’m not as angry as you think by far… your post made me smile knowing I was not as dumb as some people are…

  8. seattle tyler - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    you’re right warren. i thought i was smart but now i understand that i’m dumb. thank you. i’m glad that i made you smile.
    so do you like the 22111 format or the 232 format?

  9. warren butler - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    seattle tyler…. since the NBA finals have started… the lakers and celtics have met up in the finals what now.. 12 or 13 times? Think about it if you can… I know it might be hard for your little brain but maybe if you were able to comprehend what the article stated, like about the cost of having the 22111 format compared to the 232, you shave off an extra cross country trip…. like duh!

  10. Bob - Jun 11, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    I have been thinking about this for the last several days. How difficult it is to win three in a row and that 2-3-2 is a disadvantage to the lower seeded team. But wait. The first five games give the lower seed the home court advantage: 3 games to 2 games. Which gives the lower seed a little edge during the first 5 games and increases the chances for a 7 game series. I do not see how you could look at it any different. With 2-2-1-1-1, the higher seed team has the home court advantage for the first five games and is more likely to close in 6 games. Consider how many 4-2 series leading up to the finals.

  11. Mark Tinklenberg - Jun 14, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    this is by far the stupidest format, and it drives me crazy. I mean do you really expect boston NOT to show up and play big in game 5 NBA finals tied 2-2? are you kidding? this ruins the series, and as a Lakers fan I really could not get mad because Boston SHOULD win that game at home. Thanks for nothing David Stern, the biggest nerd on the earth just ruined another great series.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2571)
  2. K. Irving (2249)
  3. A. Davis (1928)
  4. L. James (1622)
  5. K. Bryant (1617)
  1. K. Durant (1500)
  2. A. Aminu (1468)
  3. M. Leonard (1431)
  4. T. Thompson (1397)
  5. A. Jefferson (1269)