How Long Is a Basketball Game?

Basketball games at the NBA level are structured into 4 quarters that each last 12 minutes. Other levels have different rules about timing, for example college games are conducted in 2 20 minute halves. However, 4 quarters is the most popular structure seen in games and leagues around the world. Each game also has around a 15 minute halftime period, where players can get a rest. When taking into account each quarter, halftime, whistles, and TV timeouts, basketball games typically take around 2-3 hours.

How Many Quarters Are In a Game?

Each game has 2 halves, and each half has 2 quarters, meaning every game has 4 quarters in regulation and additional overtime periods if the score permits. The first 3 quarters move relatively quickly, however the last few minutes of the 4th quarter are infamously known as the longest in sports, making it feel like the dramatic ending drags the game past the average game length of 2-3 hours. 

How Many Minutes Are In a Game?

Each NBA game has 4 12 minutes quarters, meaning if there were no whistles, stoppages, or anything to pause the game, it would take just 48 minutes to complete. This isn’t reality, however, and games take much longer than this due to timeouts and stoppages. 

How Long is Overtime in Basketball?

There are no ties in basketball, so if 2 teams are tied at the end of regulation, they must duel it out until a winner is declared. Each overtime period is only 5 minutes, which doesn’t seem like a lot compared to the regular 12 minute quarters. In a close game, it can feel like an eternity with each team fouling and taking their free throws. The longest basketball game at the NBA level lasted 6 overtimes, when the Indianapolis Olympians defeated the Rochester Royals 75-73 in a surprisingly low scoring affair.

 

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