The Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 in an experimental 44-minute game last Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center.
The Silver Experiment
The shortened preseason game is one of the “experiments” that the NBA is taking under the innovative leadership of Commissioner Adam Silver to reduce the wear and tear of players in the NBA’s 82-game regular season.
The Celtics and Nets played four 11 minute quarters where two mandatory timeouts were eliminated from the game. The game officially lasted one hour and 58 minutes and was roughly 30 minutes shorter than the standard 48 minute game which the NBA has been playing with.
Not Much of an Impact
After the game, both coaches agreed that the reduction of four minutes didn’t have much of an impact and that the only time they noticed a shorter game was during the first timeout in the first quarter. Nets guard Joe Johnson concurred the coaches’ opinions, saying that “it’s pretty much the same” since the players still play the same amount of minutes. Johnson added that he “would like to keep the 48 minute game instead.”
The idea of a 44 minute game was broached by Dallas Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle during one of the offseason meetings between the NBA and the coaches. During that particular meeting, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Brooklyn Nets mentor Lionel Hollins agreed to participate in the “experiment” by letting their teams play in the first ever 44 minute NBA game.
Calls for a shorter season
When the league announced that they will be experimenting a 44 minute preseason game, two of the more prominent players in the league came forward to give their opinion about decreasing the players’ wear and tear.
Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki said last week that 82 games is” too much” to determine the best eight teams per conference. The 7-foot German star opined that the ideal NBA season should have “mid-60s games” per team. His suggestion was seconded by no less than four time MVP LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who said that shortening the season and not shortening the game is the solution to “protecting players’ health.” James’ former coach, Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat agreed with James and Nowitzki, also saying that “everybody” agrees that the 82-game season is too long.
Not a Realistic Possibility
However, despite the backing of the league’s best players, shortening the NBA season is not seen as the solution that the NBA will take to address the issues on player health. Cutting down on games decreases both the owners’ revenues and the players’ salaries.
Earlier this month, the NBA signed a mammoth $24B TV deal that is thrice the amount of the NBA’s current TV contract. That contract is expected to raise the salary cap by 40% in the 2016-17 season when the new TV deal kicks in. With that much money on the table, shortening the season may not be a realistic possibility.