Cohen: The Perfect Playoff Formula

By Josh Cohen
April 28, 2012


INDIANAPOLIS -- Once upon a time long ago, Mr. Brilliant and Mr. Genius discovered the perfect way to resolve indecision and ambiguity.

These two clever gentlemen took a coin – some say a silver dollar others insinuate it was a shiny copper penny – and flipped it to decide on an equation. If it landed on heads, one verdict was made. If it landed on tails, on the other hand, a separate ruling was decided on.

But they quickly realized there was a flaw.

Mr. Brilliant and Mr. Genius grasped the fact that you can’t base a decision on one flip. I mean, come on, how can anyone finalize anything on one, distinctive occurrence.

There are too many factors against the one-flip theory. What if, for example, a massive wind surge surfaced which inadvertently altered the supposed direction of the coin or what if somehow the coin was previously submerged in liquid and the weight of this currency became asymmetrical?

After years and years of brainstorming and testing out all kinds of intricate scientific and mathematic formulas, a light bulb finally appeared above Mr. Brilliant and Mr. Genius.

They ultimately determined that it’s imperative to flip a coin multiple times to best assess a decision or resolve an issue.

Suddenly, the world was flabbergasted with this life-changing discovery.

When people couldn’t decide what to eat for lunch, they emptied out their pockets, picked up a nickel and flipped it several times. One person would say: Best three out of five. Heads for bologna, tails for roast beef.

Over the years, people did get a little bored of the chump change however. So like anything else, kids invented new strategies to evaluate important decisions.

There was the creation of Rock, Paper, Scissors. There was the conception of Tic-Tac-Toe. There was even some idea to take a piece of notebook paper, fold it up so it looks like an airplane and fling it between another person’s self-made goal-post. Cool indeed.

Before you knew it, people utilized these various methods to come to appropriate conclusions. And like Mr. Brilliant and Mr. Genius before them, there would be multiple attempts at these techniques. Sometimes it’s best 2 out of 3; maybe it’s best 3 out of 5.

But in professional sports, the supreme mathematical blueprint was applied: 4 out of 7!!!!

The first to reach four victories in a series is determined the ultimate monarch, the king of the castle and the ruler of its craft.

There is nothing more definitive and more enthralling than an NBA best-of-seven playoff series, moreover.

Unlike the NFL, for instance, where on any given Sunday one set of men can get lucky and benefit off another clan’s atypical misfortune, a long, grueling, strategy-driven and war-like seven-game series almost always correctly assesses the appropriate winner.

Luck is thrown out of the window and rather, the team that overcomes the taxing and insistent crusade deserves to have their arms gloriously raised at the end.

Teams inevitably face countless obstacles throughout a seven-game series. There are the undesirable wounds of the soldiers. There are the unsuspecting heroes. There are unremitting tactical alterations and pressure-packed drama encircling each squad.

Seven-game combat is how rivalries are born. Just ask the Celtics and Lakers about that after all the years they clashed in the NBA Finals.

It’s perfect entertainment, also. A myriad of storylines are generated throughout a series.

It’s like last season in The Finals when LeBron James went from being an unstoppable force early in the series to choking unstoppably at the end.

The NBA Playoffs are here. And it’s our duty to thank Mr. Brilliant and Mr. Genius for laying down the foundation for why April to June is the best, most enjoyable time of the year to watch the greatest athletes in the world.

Do you think each playoff series in the NBA should stay a best-of-seven in each round or would you prefer a best-of-five series in each round?
Do you think each playoff series in the NBA should stay a best-of-seven in each round or would you prefer a best-of-five series in each round?
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