So the NBA commissioner doesn’t like it that the Cleveland Cavaliers sat some stars for a game last week. Boo hoo. The Cavs want to win an NBA championship, and sometimes, you have to rest your players in order to do that. It’s the price of an 82-game season, which is clearly too long these days for players under constant travel scenarios.
The San Antonio Spurs began this trend a few years back, and it helped them win a title in 2014. The Golden State Warriors should be doing it right now, too, in truth. The NBA postseason is ridiculous: potentially, four seven-game series to earn the title. To survive that, you must be rested and ready. That’s all the best teams in the NBA are trying to do.
The league wants revenue from its postseason, though, so that isn’t going to get shortened. Nor is the 82-game season going to be curtailed, for the same reason. If the commissioner really wants to stop this, he’d advocate for altering the home-court advantage earned by a team with more wins than its opponent.
Simple: Right now, all a team gets is one extra home game in a seven-game series for its trouble of playing its stars all the time and exposing them to injury and fatigue risks. You want teams to forgo rest to play balls out? Then make home-court advantage actually mean something.
The team with the better record—in any sport, mind you, not just the NBA—should get five home games in a seven-game series instead of just four. That is a distinct-enough edge that any team would fight for it. One game extra at home isn’t enough; three games extra at home is huge.
Change a postseason series format from HH-AAA-HH to HH-A-HH-A-H, and you won’t see teams resting their stars anymore. Make home-field advantage worth something in baseball, basketball and hockey, and teams will fight hard through every regular-season game until the end.
The owners of the team on the lower side of this ledger might complain about lost revenue, but that’s a weak position: After all, doesn’t the ownership want its team to win more anyway? This actually provides more incentive for owners to play for more wins, in truth.
It’s a simple solution that MLB, the NBA and the NHL can solve with a simple tweak.