Skip to content

It’s official: NBA to return to 2-2-1-1-1 Finals format this season

Oct 23, 2013, 2:24 PM EDT

Larry O'Brien trophy Getty Images

The NBA Finals are going old school again.

After 28 years of a 2-3-2 Finals format — where the team with the worse record hosted the three games in the middle of the series — the NBA is returning to the 2-2-1-1-1 format used prior to that, as well as the format used in every other playoff round. David Stern confirmed the change at a press conference Wednesday following the NBA Board of Governors meeting where the owners approved the switch.

This was the expected outcome after the league’s Competition Committee unanimously recommended it. Stern said it was unfair for the team with the better record to have to play three games in a row on the road, including a potentially crucial Game 5.

“Easy sell,” Stern said of the change.

It was Stern who ushered in that change back in 1985. Back then the NBA’s popularity was skyrocketing thanks in large part to the Magic/Bird rivalry and suddenly newspapers from across the country sent someone to cover the Finals. The bean counters at those papers complained about the costs of the cross-country flights, plus at the time even the teams flew commercial. The change made some sense then.

Times change. Now the players fly charter and how the media covers the Finals is different (publications can hire freelancers already in a location, far fewer papers pay for their guy to fly with the series). However, the league said there will be an extra day off between Games 6 and 7 — those normally happen on a Tuesday and Thursday — to allow for travel. (The league also could tweak the start date to put the games on different days, but the Finals usually run on a Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday format).

Bottom line is the Finals are back to 2-2-1-1-1. It makes you wonder if last year’s series between San Antonio and Miami, or even the year before with Oklahoma City and Miami, might have been different with this format.

Latest Posts
  1. Kevin Durant to have third foot surgery; is done for season, playoffs

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:09 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    He should be back next season, the final one of this contract with Oklahoma City.

  2. High praise: Bob Cousy says Hassan Whiteside reminds him of Bill Russell

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

    Cousey said not Shaq, not Ewing, nobody reminded him of Russell like Whiteside.

  3. Report: Salary cap could rise to $105 million in 2017-18

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    AP Money Found AP

    As everyone braces for 2016 spike, another big bump could follow

  4. Goran Dragic leading feisty Heat’s playoff push

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:55 AM EDT

    Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven

    LeBron James and a lot of stature are gone, but with the more-modest goal of just making the playoffs, Miami’s new point guard embracing the challenge

  5. Anthony Davis made 100 free throws in arena after Rockets loss

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:19 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Pelicans star missed eight free throws in setback to Houston

  6. DeMarcus Cousins has response for fan who tells him to stop complaining about calls

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Houston at Sacramento Getty Images

    Cousins has gotten better, but he still has yet to hear a foul call he liked.

  7. Amar’e Stoudemire on retiring: “There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me”

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:08 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Stoudemire can give a team 15 minutes a night off the bench of quality play.

  8. NBA admits incorrect no-call by referees on final play of Lakers’ overtime win over Timberwolves

    Mar 26, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

    A day later the league says Andrew Wiggins was fouled, but the officials let it go at the time.

  9. Clippers holding off on re-signing Nate Robinson after second 10-day contract expires

    Mar 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Clippers Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Clippers

    Clippers would need to ink Robinson for the rest of the season, but are waiting to see how quickly he can return after a recent knee injury.

  10. Wizards coach Randy Wittman: ‘I don’t give a crap what Marreese Speights thinks’

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Randy Wittman AP

    Speights said the Warriors knew the Wizards would quit after Golden State beat them recently, and Washington’s coach responds.

  11. Nets say Thaddeus Young has a left knee strain, out Friday vs. Cavaliers

    Mar 26, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Brooklyn is a half-game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (6423)
  2. K. Lowry (5967)
  3. R. Rubio (5892)
  4. L. Aldridge (5733)
  5. P. George (5540)
  1. G. Monroe (5518)
  2. D. Rose (5351)
  3. B. Knight (5322)
  4. D. Howard (5232)
  5. N. Batum (5168)