With the game lasting one hour and 58 minutes, breaking the two hour mark may be the most significant number to come out of the Boston Celtics versus the Brooklyn match on Saturday. The pre-season game saw the Celtics win 95-90, after coming back from being 17 points behind, but all of the focus was on the 44 minute game that was introduced. The change came with the game being played out over four quarters and there was the elimination of a mandatory timeout which usually came in the 2nd and 4th quarters.
While there will have been plenty of people looking at the game to see if there was anything different, the two coaches involved with the game didn’t seem to notice much or any difference. Lionel Hollins is the head coach of the Nets and he said;
When you’re coaching and I look up there and when we’re already to the first time out, that was kind of surprising. That was the only time it seemed like it was quick. Other than that, I didn’t really notice it.
His attitude and response was also backed up by Brad Stevens, the coach of the Celtics, who said;
You noticed it a little bit when you are subbing at the start of quarters, but I thought the flow with the one less time out was actually a little bit better in the second and fourth. I didn’t notice it a whole lot, and I don’t know how much impact it had on the game.
The Celtics bounced back strongly
In one way you could argue that if it isn’t going to have much of an impact on the game, you could make the change and there will be no real problem. The notable impact on the game was not the time, but it may have been the time the Nets spent in the Far East on their pre-season tour of China. There was a visible drop in the energy and vitality of the Nets in the second half as the Celtic bounced back from lagging behind to take the game in good style. The third period saw the Celtics putting on the style with the Nets looking sluggish.
Is the new time meant for TV companies
While the changes in time may not impact on games, or even help players to get the rest that they need for a lengthy season, they may well help the NBA to provide a more attractive proposition and product to TV companies. With the new NBA TV deal promising a lot of money to the game, providing TV companies with more is definitely something that the league is looking to do and it may well be that the change in the game comes about in an attempt to provide the media with further benefits.
A different idea has been floated by Tony Parker from the Spurs who has said;
The starters are still going to play a lot of minutes. Nothing will change. I think what it is to play four preseason games instead of eight, and those two weeks you can help spread the season. That would be better. Because everyone arrives in shape at training camp. Everybody’s in shape. Everybody’s here since the beginning of September, even the guys playing overseas, we arrive in shape. So it’s better to play four preseason games, and then that two weeks use it to spread the season. You can still keep the week for the All-Stars so we can have some vacation too. I think that would be the solution. But 44, no, that’s not going to change anything. Except for the coaches; there would be fewer minutes for the guys off the bench.
This may be an opportunity to make the season flow better but with the NBA looking to take teams around the world in pre-season to gain publicity, this may not be something that the league is willing to back.