The NBA playoffs are a couple of weeks away from starting, yet more than a month away from determining who wins in the first round.
Playoff games every night of the week for weeks can be compelling, and for many years it worked out well, but times have changed and a quicker format seems appropriate now.
The Internet generation has given sports junkies more perspective. Getting to the point is more important than seeing more games played just for the heck of it.
The buildup to the conference finals and championship rounds can be improved upon and made to be more responsive to fans’ expectations.
The characteristic of the NBA playoffs that sets it apart from baseball and football is that there are four rounds to play.
A best-of-seven in the first round is not necessary. And rather than have it as a best-of-five, as it used to be, just shorten to a best-of-three and get it over with. The best team should always win, regardless of the length of the series, but this length of a series will apply a lot of pressure to the favorite teams and give underdog teams a greater chance of pulling the upset.
If a favorite team can’t win a best-of-three first rounder, then they don’t deserve to win the championship anyway.
A best-two-out-of-three first round pushes the playoffs along at the right pace, getting to a second round quickly and giving sports fans more immediate gratification.
The second round has to be a best-of-five if the first round is best-of-three. The same philosophy applies. Push the playoffs along to get to the more meaningful best-of-sevens sooner. Along the way, there may be more upsets, but also there may be better quality games.
The best-of-seven for a first and second round has outlived its purpose. It tends to make the NBA playoffs drag on too long. There’s nothing wrong with building up more tension in early rounds that are decided more quickly.
The playoff format change would bring more attention to the NBA and the marketing can take advantage of more deciding game threes and fives in which the loser goes home.
Best-of-sevens should be made to be more special. They should be reserved for the Conference Championships and Finals only.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com