Tue Jun 08 11:05am EDT
It's hard to beat the same team three times in a row. That's been said for many years and about every sport. After three games, the teams just know each other too well for one team to hold such a distinct advantage that they can pull off three straight wins. In the championship round, that possibility is even slimmer as these two teams are the best their league has to offer.
In the NBA Finals, with its 2-3-2 format, stealing home-court advantage as the Celtics did with their Game 2 victory can be both a blessing and a curse. And even though he's said that the Celtics "ain't coming back to L.A.," team captain Paul Pierce(notes) gets how hard it'll be to close out the series at home. From the Boston Globe:
"We took home court, so we've got a chance to play three games [at home],'' he said. "But, I told ya'll that doesn't guarantee we're going to win the games because we're at home. We've got to go out there and play the game. They're going to be coming into our house and we can't assume anything — we can't take it for granted.''
Somewhat more tempered than his mid-game proclamation, and that's probably a good thing. As the Boston Globe's Julian Benbow notes, in the 25 years since the NBA switched to the 2-3-2 format, the home team has won the middle three games only twice.
In a delicious bit of irony, the format that might hurt the Celtics is the result of complaints by legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach, who felt that travelling between the last three games of the series (while using the 2-2-1-1-1 format) hurt the quality of play because of jetlag. Funnily enough, Auerbach eventually admitted that he didn't like the format that he'd helped to create, and David Stern continues to place the blame on the since-deceased coach for a format that everyone but television executives seems to hate. A rare misstep, Red.
So for the Lakers to make Paul Pierce into a liar, all they have to do is win one of the next three games and then they'll have a chance to close out the series in Los Angeles. It doesn't seem fair that the team who stole home-court advantage would then be in danger of losing it, just because of a 25-year-old rule change. If we're holding teams to things that happened back then, I say we make them wear short shorts as well. Keep it really old school.