Celtics-Nets on Sunday will only be 44 minutes as NBA experiments with shorter game

Sunday's Celtics-Nets game will not be a normal pre-season game. Instead, it will be an experiment that Adam Silver and the rest of the NBA will closely be watching.

According to USA Today, the league is using the game as a trial run for a 44-minute game (four 11 minute quarters as opposed to the normal four 12 minute quarters). Here are some details.

The NBA will look how a 44-minute game impacts length of the game, player-substitution patterns and flow of the game to determine if there's a better experience.


One game is a small sample size, and it's possible the NBA experiments with 44-minute games next preseason and in the D-League, which is often used a testing ground for ideas.

The Nets and Celtics volunteered to participate in the 44-minute game experiment, which will include a different mandatory timeout schedule.

Each quarter will have two mandatory timeouts at the first dead ball under 6:59 and the first dead ball under 2:59, and the game will have two fewer mandatory timeouts than a normal game. In a 48-minute game, there are three mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth quarters, and the first mandatory timeout comes at the first dead ball under 5:59.

The league will pay close attention to the length of that game. The total time of an average NBA game is about two hours, 15 minutes.

So we'd be losing four minutes of actual game play (which would be more like 6 minutes in real time) plus two commercial breaks (another 5 minutes), meaning this should trim the game by about 10-12 minutes.

The question is: do we like that?

My answer: I hate it.

Basketball games are not too long. They get too slow at the end of the game sometimes, but the solution to that is not chopping off a few minutes of play, but instead limiting the number of timeouts a team has (my idea has always been five timeouts per-team, per-game, with a maximum of two being used in the final minute of play). So we'd still be getting those 15 minute long final minutes here, we'd just be losing four minutes of basketball.

This would also make game records impossible to reach, as players would be chasing records set in a 48-minute game. There would also be fewer statistical anomalies like 50-point games and triple-doubles, which while meaningless when it comes to the win-loss aspect of basketball are still really cool things that fans enjoy seeing. And the added benefit of going home 15 minutes earlier just doesn't seem worth losing stuff like this.

On the flip side, while I hate this particular idea, I love the idea that the NBA is being proactive and using the pre-season as a laboratory to see if rules changes make sense. Why not try it out and see if fans and players like it? The worst thing that happens is they don't, and then what have you lost? Four minutes of pre-season basketball. Also kudos to the league for being willing to cut out a commercial break per half, something that takes money directly out of their wallet if it were to come to fruition. We always hear leagues (especially baseball) talk about speeding up their games, but those same leagues get very antsy when it comes to cutting commercial breaks that pay their bills. So the fact that the NBA would be willing to take a hit to the wallet if it meant a better product is pretty cool.

With all of that said, I'm rooting against this being a hit. 11-minute quarters after playing 12-minute quarters for nearly 70 years just doesn't seem right.

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