The Miami Heat took seven games to beat the Pacers; the Spurs won the Western Conference in four games. The Heat had two days off entering the NBA Finals, whilst the Spurs have had nine days off. As they battle along for the Larry O’Brien trophy, it begs the question: which one is better?
Perhaps the most recent and high profile example, in spite of what you may have seen on First Take, was the San Francisco Giants, who won the NLCS in seven games, beating the Detroit Tigers who had swept the ALCS in the 2012 World Series. The Giants, whose pitching rotation couldn’t reset going into the World Series, whose players had been active for three straight weeks into the playoffs, were able to sweep the rested, properly set, and ready to go Tigers. This came in spite of analysts who questioned whether or not the Giants would have proper pitching match-ups, and whether or not the Giants players would have enough energy to win. In the end, the Giants carried their momentum from having their backs against the wall to a World Series championship, stunning the baseball world in the process.
However, not all sports are baseball, and not all teams are the Tigers or Giants. Ultimately, some teams may benefit from rest, and others from hard fought, long series, and that is the equation that faces us with the Spurs and Heat, respectively. The Spurs are an older team, with a lot of experience, that can benefit from a long layoff, whereas the Heat are a younger team who can use a hard fought series to rally themselves together, which quite frankly, was something they needed.
However, any sports series will result in one team usually having more rest. The NFL, with its single-elimination format, is the exception.
So, let the debate begin.