Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

NBA owners vote to revert to old finals format

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NEW YORK -- The 2-3-2 NBA Finals format is following David Stern out of the league.

NBA owners unanimously voted Wednesday to return to the 2-2-1-1-1 format, believing the travel inconveniences that teams faced when Stern became commissioner nearly 30 years ago no longer exist.

Beginning with the 2014 finals, the higher-seeded team will host Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The lower seed gets Games 3, 4 and 6, following the same format the NBA uses in all other rounds.

The current format was instituted in 1985, Stern's first full year in charge, in part to ease the amount of cross-country travel with the Celtics and Lakers frequently meeting for the championship. But critics felt it gave an edge to the lower-seeded team.

"There certainly was a perception... it was unfair to the team that had the better record, that it was then playing the pivotal Game 5 on the road. So this obviously moves that game back to giving home-court advantage to the team with the better record if it's a 2-2 series," deputy commissioner Adam Silver said.

The vote came during Stern's final pre-season meeting with his board of governors. Owners also voted to add an extra day between Games 6 and 7.

The league's competition committee had recommended the change last month back to 2-2-1-1-1, which was used in all but one finals from 1957 to 1984.

The change to the 2-3-2 format was one of the earliest made by Stern, who has often said he was acting on advice -- or complaints -- about the travel from former Celtics boss Red Auerbach. But with commercial flights long since replaced by charters, teams didn't have the same difficulties.

Silver, who will become commissioner after Stern retires Feb. 1, is a proponent of the 2-2-1-1-1 format.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 24, 2013 D9

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