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AP Photo/Paul E. Thomson

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. It’s play in pretty lot every nation you have the right to think of. The National Basketball Association, which is a member of USA Basketball and also recognized by FIBA (International Basketball Federation) together the nationwide governing body for basketball in the joined States, is composed of teams each worth billions of dollars. The NBA Finals alone draws tens of millions of viewers every year.

You are watching: How long are professional basketball games

Many fans watch basketball due to the fact that it’s usually nonstop action. But prior to LeBron James was gliding coast-to-coast for a dunk or before Michael Jordan to be hitting clutch run shots or even before Steph Curry was swishing three-pointers native the half-court line, basketball to be boring and in decrease in the 1950s.


The implementation that the shot clock essentially saved the game and also put pan in the seats as soon as it was introduced. Before it, NBA teams can hold the round for as lengthy as they’d like once they had actually a lead. The result? last scores prefer 19-18 as soon as the Fort Wayne Pistons beat the Minneapolis Lakers in 1950. Dean blacksmith made a life implementing a “four corners” stall offense in college that was unstoppable due to the fact that there to be no shoot clock.

The game the basketball and also its rules — because that which there room plenty — have been revised transparent the years to put the best feasible product top top the court possible.

That being said, one pushing question many brand-new fans questioning is: exactly how long is a basketball game? that answer varies due to the fact that different rule exist for the countless levels the basketball that include professional basketball, Olympic basketball, university basketball, high school and youth basketball.

How lengthy Is one NBA Basketball Game?

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AP Photo/Kathy Willens

NBA games are split into 4 quarters, every of which last 12 minutes long. That means there space 48 complete minutes of pat in a solitary game. Halftime provides played a 15-minute break to allow them to remainder in between the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Each overtime period lasts five minutes.


The average size of a basketball video game in the NBA lasts all over from 2-3 hours after factoring in team timeouts, replay reviews, shooting fouls, TV timeouts, halftime breaks, breathers and also other stoppages. Most video game lengths are around two and a fifty percent hours.

How long Is a university Basketball Game?

AP Photo/Richard Shiro

College basketball games are slightly different. NCAA men’s basketball games consists of 2 20-minute halves, including up come 40 total minutes of video game time. Each overtime duration is 5 minutes long. NCAA women’s college games room played in four 10-minute quarters just choose WNBA games are. Both take around two hours from start to finish.

Most high school basketball gamings in the United claims are played in 8-minute quarters, yet that varies from state to state.

How The shot Clock changed Basketball

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AP Photo/Michael Okoniewski

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Back in 1954, the Syracuse Nationals owner Danny Biasone and general manager Leo Farris began implementing a 24-second shot clock during scrimmages. The result was a faster, higher-scoring video game that the NBA officially embraced for the 1954-55 season.

The shoot clock totally revolutionized the game. Point out soared, together did attendance. Some claimed it conserved basketball, others said it rescued it. One of two people way, everyone was in favor that it.


The NBA right now uses a 24-second shot clock. This means teams have to shoot the ball prior to that time expires, or rather they lose possession the the ball. The shoot clock resets to 14 secs in the NBA after an attack rebound top top a missed shot or cost-free throw that hit the rim.

The nationwide Collegiate strong Association (NCAA) currently offers a 30-second shot clock for both men and also women’s basketball matches. The league introduced a 45-second shoot clock in 1985 and also reduced it come 35 second in 1993 before landing ~ above a 30-second shot clock in 2015.

How plenty of Timeouts room In a Basketball Game?

The video game clock stop a totality lot in the NBA, i m sorry is why the league has actually tried to rate up gamings by limiting the variety of timeouts teams deserve to call. As of the 2017-18 season, NBA teams are enabled seven timeouts per game. Every team is likewise only afforded 2 timeouts in the last three minutes, a readjust of pace from as soon as it could call three timeouts in the last two minutes.

Each timeout in these skilled games last 75 seconds. The NBA used to permit 100-second timeouts and also “20-second” timeouts the were actually an ext like 60 seconds.

The NCAA permits three 30-second timeouts every game, 2 of which can roll over right into the second half. In addition, teams get one 60-second timeout that deserve to be called at any type of time that the game. High school games follow a comparable model to university rules.


#DidYouKnow in jan 1951,Indianapolis Olympians & Rochester Royals dealt with over six OVERTIMES to decide the winner? pic.twitter.com/aoiv9dhyZh

— NBAIndia (
NBAHistory to be a regular-season game: Jan. 6, 1951: 6OT (78 minutes) Indianapolis Olympians 75, Rochester Royals 73. The Royals (photo) would ultimately win the
NBA championship the season in a thrilling seven-game series over the
NYKnicks pic.twitter.com/bfI3XFORcx

— NBA history (
NBAHistory) might 4, 2019


There’s a reason the NBA has actually stricter time constraints now. Look no additional than a video game played top top January 6, 1951, for just why the is.

The Rochester Royals and Indianapolis Olympians squared off in a (not for this reason epic) game that wound up lasting a total time of 78 minutes and six overtimes, an excellent for the longest NBA basketball video game in history. The bout, which took place at Edgerton Park Arena in Rochester, brand-new York, was eventually won by the Olympians.

What’s horrendous is that just 18 points were scored in the timeframe that the entire six overtimes. No team score in the 2nd and fourth overtimes. Why? because the team who started with the round tended come wait because that the clock to operation out prior to throwing increase the final shot.


From the Rochester Democrat: “ much more than 26 of the 30 overtime minutes, the round stayed nicely tucked away under an eight of a imperial or Olympian player. One or another player simply stood there through the score tied, waiting the end the clock because that a last-second ?nothing-to-lose? shot. ? Customers that complained were melted up at the unchallenged freeze. Because that the Olympians, it certain wasn?t good basketball, however it payment off.”


Booooooring. That’s a far cry from the time Tracy McGrady score 13 point out in 33 seconds, a feat that actually occurred in a professional basketball league and is still remarkable.

The Longest video game in NCAA History


Today in #sportshistory in 1981 Cincinnati defeated Bradley 75-73 in 7 OTs in the longest game in NCAA competition. Pic.twitter.com/Cfq9Vasua8

— OTBS virtual (

As for college basketball, the longest game in NCAA men’s basketball background was a comparable 75-minute, seven-overtime game in between Bradley and also Cincinnati in 1981. The came prior to a shooting clock was applied as well.

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The sports of basketball has actually come a long means since the pre-shot clock days. I’m not sure we’ll ever see one more six- or seven-overtime game, and that’s more than likely for the best. The median points per video game per team is the highest its been due to the fact that the 1980s, so sit back and reap the fireworks.

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About the author: Patrick Pinak, staff Writer
Patrick covered the Florida Gators throughout the forgettable will certainly Muschamp and Jim McElwain eras prior to spending two periods writing for major League Baseball. He"s a baseball junkie who spends his job defending Derek Jeter and also the Miami Marlins. He resides in southern Florida yet his heart belongs in Gainesville, Florida.