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NBA to experiment with 44-minute preseason game

How do you speed up NBA games? One of the considerations is shortening them.

The NBA announced Tuesday that Sunday’s exhibition between the Nets and Celtics will be played with four 11-minute quarters, instead of the traditional 12-minute quarters.

In addition, there will be one fewer mandatory timeout in each half.

Of course, just as some have countered when Major League Baseball mulled shortening the season, the question in the NBA also will center on statistics, and the meaning of a 20- or 30-point game or scoring average, let alone reaching Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.

As it is, if you set your DVR at three hours for the Heat’s Saturday exhibition in Brazil against the Cavaliers, you still missed the end of overtime.

Perhaps the next step should be … eliminating a few of the preseason games, as well.

Per the NBA:

“The National Basketball Association announced today that it will play a 44-minute game during the 2014 NBA preseason when the Brooklyn Nets host the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on Oct. 19. The league is utilizing the preseason contest to examine the flow of a shorter game as compared to the standard 48-minute game.

“ ‘At our recent coaches’ meeting, we had a discussion about the length of our games, and it was suggested that we consider experimenting with a shorter format,’ said NBA President, Basketball Operations Rod Thorn. ‘After consulting with our Competition Committee, we agreed to allow the Nets and Celtics to play a 44-minute preseason game in order to give us some preliminary data that will help us to further analyze game-time lengths.’

“Application of the experimental 44-minute game will involve quarters being reduced from their typical 12 minutes each to 11 and a reduction in mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth quarters. During this 44-minute game, each quarter will feature two mandatory timeouts per quarter, with the first triggered at the first dead ball under 6:59 of the period if neither team has taken a timeout prior, and the second mandatory timeout will be triggered by the first dead ball under 2:59 if neither team has taken a timeout subsequent to the first mandatory timeout. In the NBA’s 48-minute game, the second and fourth quarters have three mandatory timeouts.

“ ‘When this idea came up at the coaches’ meeting, I thought it was a unique experiment that was worth participating in,’ said Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. ‘I’m looking forward to gauging its impact on the flow of the game. Since there is a shorter clock, it affects playing time, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays into substitution patterns.’

“ ‘I appreciate the NBA’s long history of forward thinking and willingness to try new ideas,’ said Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens. ‘We told the NBA that we’d be happy to participate in this trial during a preseason game. I look forward to experiencing it and continuing the dialogue after October 19.’ “

Of course fewer minutes could mean less of a need for role players, which could diminish their value, which ultimately get the players’ union involved since that also could leave to a decrease in salaries for role players.

Also, the shorter game also could create more fouling, with the six-foul limit per player staying in place, and apparently the number of fouls to reach the bonus in each period.