NBA to test 44-minute game during Nets-Celtics preseason matchup

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One thing that became clear from the moment Adam Silver took over as NBA commissioner was that he would be much more open to innovation than was his predecessor.

Silver is on his way to making changes to a Draft Lottery system which too heavily rewards losing, and is now going to use an upcoming preseason game to test the effects of shortening the length of the league’s games.

From the official release:

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. …

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.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today spoke to NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn for some additional clarification.

“We have looked at everything that we do and are taking a fresh look at all the different things we do,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said. “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 favor of at least taking a look at it. We talked with our competition committee, and they were in favor of taking a look at it.” …

“Let’s get some empirical evidence regarding this and take a fresh look at it,” Thorn said.

While this idea may seem like a head-scratcher on the surface, when looking at it from the players’ perspective, it may make a bit more sense.

The biggest issue that impacts the health of the players is the long grind of the 82-game regular season. And since shortening it would mean a loss of revenue for owners, that’s not something that’s likely to happen anytime soon. But reducing the length of individual games could save some wear and tear, especially when looked at cumulatively once the season is finished.

One game won’t provide much data to go off of, especially in the preseason when starters’ minutes are typically limited and coaches have other things they’re looking at that may not necessarily make winning the top priority. But it’s a start, and if it ends up meaning players log fewer minutes and are fresher once the postseason rolls around, it’s an idea that could potentially gain some traction.