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NBA tweaks format for Finals to ease travel demands

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NBA makes changes to Finals schedule (2:59)

ESPN senior NBA writer Marc Stein breaks down the new NBA Finals schedule and discusses other changes the league is considering. (2:59)

The NBA, in an ongoing attempt to ‎build more rest into the schedule and ease travel demands on its players, has announced another change to the NBA Finals format.

The league introduced a revised template for its Finals schedule Wednesday, scrapping its long-standing Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday model with a pledge to ensure two days between games any time teams are required to change cities.

The 2016 NBA Finals are scheduled to start on June 2.

For years, Finals games were played only on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights. The first step toward change was instituted before the 2014 NBA Finals, when the league abandoned the 2-3-2 format employed for nearly 30 years for a 2-2-1-1-1 model. The change, designed to try to bring the championship series more in line with the rest of the playoffs, also ushered in an extra day of travel between Games 6 and 7.

The latest tweaks follow last month's announcement from the league that it had greatly reduced the number of back-to-backs and stretches of four games in five nights during the regular-season schedule.‎

"Our focus was really on players' rest and recuperation," NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe told ESPN in August when the 2015-16 schedule was released. "We've worked hard with the teams, the broadcast partners and the venues to get the overall travel down and more time between games."‎

The forthcoming regular season will feature only 27 instances of a team playing four games in five nights, down 61 percent from the 2014-15 campaign. Back-to-backs, meanwhile, have been sliced from slightly more than 20 per team on average to 18 this season, with back-to-backs that cross a time zone further reduced by 18 percent.