By Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports Views 8863

NEW YORK — NBA owners unanimously voted to restore the NBA Finals format to 2-2-1-1-1, starting this season, and replacing the 2-3-2 format which had been used since 1985.

Instead of the team with home-court court advantage getting the first two games of the Finals at home and possibly the last two at home and the opposing team playing the three middle games at home, the team with home-court advantage now will get the first two at home, the opponent the next two at home and the teams will alternate cities for Games 5, 6 and 7 if necessary.

NBA Commissioner David Stern — in his final meeting with owners as commissioner before he steps aside on Feb. 1 after 30 years — announced the move Wednesday at the conclusion of the league's two-day Board of Governors meetings.

WHAT IT MEANS: Not much in grand scheme

CHAMPS FOR LONG? Heat run may hit its cap

"There has been," Stern said, "an abiding sense amongst our teams, and they've stated two things: One, in a 2-2 series, it's sort of not fair for the team with the better record to be away. And two, it's difficult for the team — the better team in terms of record to spend as many as eight days on the road away from home.

"So for all those considerations and many others, the Competition Committee voted, it was explained to the owners, and they voted to make the change."

The first three rounds of the playoffs follow the 2-2-1-1-1 format.

NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn made the presentation to owners, and the plan had the strong support of Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver who will take over for Stern in February.

If the Finals goes seven games, there will be an extra day between Games 6 and 7. For example, if Game 6 is on a Tuesday, Game 7 will be on Friday.

Concern about the team with home-court advantage playing Game 5 on the road was one of the stronger points the competition committee made to owners. Since 1985, the Finals have been tied 2-2 11 times, and the winner of Game 5 has won the championship eight times.

"There was certainly a sense from the basketball people that it was unfair that you didn't have home-court advantage for a pivotal Game 5," Silver said.

Several cross-country Finals in the 1970s and early 1980s gave Stern and owners reason to consider changing the format. Remember, that was at a time when teams flew on commercial airlines rather than the team charter planes used today.

After Stern became commissioner in 1984, owners decided to implement the 2-3-2 format, easing the travel grind for players, NBA staffers, news reporters and TV crews. Stern recalled then-Boston Celtics general manager Red Auerbach complaining about the travel to and from Los Angeles for the Finals.

Though the team with home-court advantage is 21-8 since 1985, there was concern that home-court advantage isn't much of a home-court advantage in the 2-3-2 format if the teams split the first two games and the team without home-court advantage gets the next three games on its home court.

In 2011, the Miami Heat had home-court advantage in the Finals but lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games, and in 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder had home-court advantage and lost to the Heat in five games.

Silver said the format change won't likely change the outcome — the team with home court still has a significant edge — but it could possibly extend the length of series. The NBA looked at the length of series in 2-2-1-1-1 formats and 2-3-2 formats and found that "you're more likely in a 2-2-1-1-1 format to get a Game 7," Silver said, "but you're not more likely to get a different outcome."

A longer series is good for NBA business
PHOTOS: Heat beat Spurs in seven-game 2013 NBA Finals