NBA owners unanimously voted to change the Finals format to 2-2-1-1-1 after nearly 30 years of a 2-3-2 format on Oct. 23. The change will take place effective for the 2014 Finals in the spring.
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 NBA for the previous 29 years has used what's referred to as the 2-3-2 format, in which the higher seed hosts the first two games, then goes on the road for three straight.
The 2-3-2 format was instituted in 1985 in part to ease the amount of cross-country travel with the Celtics and Lakers frequently meeting for the championship. But some felt it also worked against the team that should have the advantage.
Commissioner David Stern, in his final season on the job, called the format change an "easy sell" to owners to help add competitive balance and align the Finals schedule with the rest of the playoffs. To ease the transition, an extra day off will be added between Games 6 and 7.
"There's been a sense among our teams that in a 2-2 series, it's not fair for a team with the better record to be away [for Game 5]," Stern said after the league's board of governors annual preseason meeting. "It's not fair for the better team in terms of record to spend as many as eight days away from home."
Stern will officially step down from his post on Feb. 1, which is exactly 30 years from the day he started. He will be replaced by deputy commissioner Adam Silver.