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NBA to trial 44-minute game in pre-season encounter

North American basketball league the NBA will experiment with a shorter game time when the Brooklyn Nets host Boston Celtics in a pre-season encounter on October 19.

The game at the Nets’ Barclays Center will be 44 minutes long, four shorter than the NBA’s standard 48-minute contests.

Quarters will be reduced from 12 minutes to 11 each, along with a reduction in mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth quarters to two from the current three in NBA league play.

A 44-minute game would bring the NBA closer into line with the 40-minute encounters that are currently the norm at college and international level. No long-term changes are being considered by the league at present despite team coaches being the driving force behind the shorter-game experiment.

“At our recent coaches’ meeting, we had a discussion about the length of our games, and it was suggested that we consider experimenting with a shorter format,” NBA president for basketball operations Rod Thorn said. “After consulting with our competition committee, we agreed to allow the Nets and Celtics to play a 44-minute preseason game in order to give us some preliminary data that will help us to further analyse game-time lengths.”

Nets head coach Lionel Hollins added: “When this idea came up at the coaches’ meeting, I thought it was a unique experiment that was worth participating in. I’m looking forward to gauging its impact on the flow of the game. Since there is a shorter clock, it affects playing time, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays into substitution patterns.”

The announcement comes after the NBA last week confirmed rights extensions with media companies Walt Disney and Time Warner that will allow the ABC network and cable-television broadcaster Turner Broadcasting System’s TNT to show the NBA from 2016-17 to 2024-25. The 44-minute game between the Nets and the Celtics will be televised live on NBA TV.

“I appreciate the NBA's long history of forward thinking and willingness to try new ideas,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “We told the NBA that we'd be happy to participate in this trial during a preseason game.  I look forward to experiencing it and continuing the dialogue after October 19.”