While the pre-season games are a great way for players and teams to get up to speed, there is one pre-season NBA game that a lot of people are going to have an eye on. This Sunday at the Barclays Centre the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics will be squaring off, a game that is clearly of interest to fans of the teams. However, this game will be of interest to all basketball fans because the game is going to be a 44 minute game. The set-up of the game will be played out in four 11 minute quarters, and while it has been stressed that this is a one-off and just an exploratory move, it appears as though there has been some high level discussion about this time-frame for games.
The President of Basketball Operations in the NBA, Rod Thorn, released a statement saying;
We have looked at everything that we do and are taking a fresh look at all the different things we do. One of the things that keeps coming up is our schedule and the length of our games. Our coaches talked about it, and a lot of them seemed to be in favour of at least taking a look at it. We talked with our competition committee, and they were in favour of taking a look at it. Let’s get some empirical evidence regarding this and take a fresh look at it.
There will be notable changes in the game
Some of the things that the NBA will be looking out for in the shorter game will be the flow of the game and what the pattern for substitutions is. Clearly one game is not going to provide enough insight into making changes but everything has to start somewhere and by taking a proper look at this change, it could be that the steps are put in place for further changes in years to come. There is a belief that if there is enough to go forward from this point that 44 games could be utilised in pre-season games next year and there is even a suggestion that these games could be utilised in the D-League. The D-League is commonly used as a way of trying out new ideas before they head to the big league and it could be that we’ll see a lot less action in years to come.
Both the Celtics and the Nets volunteered to take part in this experiment and the game will have a unique mandatory timeout schedule. The first dead ball after 6:59 and the first dead ball with less than 2:59 remaining will be timeouts. There will also be fewer mandatory time outs in a standard game. The standard NBA game features 3 mandatory timeouts in the 2nd and 4th quarter, with the first one coming as soon as there is a dead ball with less than 5:59 on the clock.
Are these changes linked to the TV rights?
Some people are wondering whether this change will come into being with the new TV deals, because a change in the timing of the game may lead to a change in the way that adverts are run. Of course the game time will be shorter; the average game time for an NBA game is around 2 hours and 15 minutes, and it is likely that close to 7 minutes a game could be shaved off of this time. However, this could see adverts popping up more regularly or being rejigged to be more prominent. While there may be positive benefits with respect to player’s health and fitness with regards this change, it may be that there are also commercial benefits in tinkering about with the game.
No one really knows if the NBA is fully serious about this sort of change or if they are just taking minimal action to look as though they are doing something with respect to the future of the game.