How Long is a Basketball Game? [With All Important Facts and Figures]

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Do you want to know how long is a Basketball game? Basketball is one of the most exciting sports, but it’s also one of the longest, especially NBA games. It’s hard to say exactly how long a game lasts, but it’s easier to do so if we talk about it in minutes.

Most NBA games last between two and two and a half hours. But that’s not the exact number for all leagues or groups.

Professional and amateur basketball games both last a certain amount of time, but different things can make them last longer. Find out how long basketball games usually last, as well as a few things that can change the length of a game.

How Long Is A Basketball Quarter?

How long a basketball quarter depends on what league and association the game is in. I’ve already talked about quarter lengths, but if you skipped to this part to get the answers, here they are:

  • FIBA games:10 minutes, with 15-minute half time.
  • NBA games: 12 minutes, with 15-minute half-time.
  • NCAA college games: Two halves of 20 minutes, with 15-minute half-time.
  • NFHS high school games: 8 minutes, with 10-minute half-time.

Time Limits in Basketball

With the five main rules, a player can only have the ball for a certain amount of time:

24-Second Rule

When a team gets the ball, they have 24 seconds to try to score. If they don’t, the other team gets to keep the ball.

8-Second Rule

When a player has the ball in their own half, or “backcourt,” they have 8 seconds to move it over the halfway line and into the “frontcourt.” If not, they will lose what they have.

5-Second Rule

A player with the ball who is being closely watched has 5 seconds to either pass the ball or move it toward the basket. When the whistle blows, the other team gets the ball.

3-Second Rule

A player can only be in the square “key” area under the basket of the other team for 3 seconds. If the player doesn’t leave in those 3 seconds, it will be called a foul.

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How Many Minutes Total in a Basketball Game?

From league to league, the total number of minutes played in a basketball game is different. High school, college, and the NBA all have different rules. We’ll look at the minutes for the NBA, the WNBA, the NCAA, and high school basketball.

NBA games are the longest of any basketball league, lasting 48 minutes. NCAA games for both men and women last 40 minutes. The length of a WNBA game is also 40 minutes.

All games that the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) approves are 40 minutes long. This includes the Olympic basketball games. Most high school basketball games last 32 minutes, but that can vary based on the rules of the league.

What About the Intervals?

Depending on where you watch the sport, the intervals usually last between two and three minutes. It does depend on the other teams and how big the game is. One thing to think about is that the first and third quarters have two- to three-minute session breaks. Usually, there is a 15-minute break after the second quarter. This is called “halftime,” and this is when the players most need to catch their breath.

For an NBA game, however, the breaks are 130 seconds long. The 15-minute break at halftime is used in all major competitions, though.

How Long do Basketball Games Last?

Basketball Playing
Photo Credit: Pixabay

The length of a basketball game depends on how much the teams have played and what kind of competition they are in. In some competitions, a basketball game is split into four quarters. In other leagues, a game can only be split into two halves. The length and number of timeouts are different in these leagues.

There are different times for NBA, NCCA, high school, and college games. Even though there are set times for a quarter and a half, a basketball game lasts longer than that. You’ve probably seen NBA games on TV that were longer than 2 hours. Overtime is the only thing that stays the same in those games. Most leagues and competitions have a five-minute overtime. But in some high school games, each team gets four minutes of extra time.

A basketball game is split into four parts, called quarters. In the NBA, each quarter lasts 12 minutes, for 48 minutes. But breaks, timeouts, and other things can make a game last up to two and a half or three hours.

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Professional Basketball Game

The association in charge of a professional basketball game decides how the game is run. A 48-minute NBA game is longer than a 40-minute FIBA game.

Any specialized game takes more than 2 hours and 15 minutes to play from start to finish. The time includes things like fouls, timeouts, and breaks, which take time away from the game.

NBA games are different from FIBA and Olympic sports in that they have a lot of timeouts. In NBA games, there are four timeouts that must be taken. Besides, basketball finals take longer than normal games. It is probably 3 hours.

How Long is a Basketball Game on TV?

If you want to watch a game on TV, there are likely to be shown before and after the game which will add time to the broadcast. You’ll need to make plans if you want to watch them or if you’re having a watch party and you think your guests will be interested. During playoff games, these shows before and after the game happen more often.

Most shows start before the game starts 30 minutes before the tip. Most of the time, these shows will have analysts who break down the game and explain important stats or matchups to keep an eye on. Lasting about 10 to 15 minutes, and they consist of interviews with players and the pre-game crew talking about what happened and why it happened.

If you want to watch a playoff game, you will need more time than for a regular season game. A playoff game usually lasts about 15 to 20 minutes longer than a regular season game.

In general, playoff games have more free throws, more timeouts, more player changes during the game, and more reviews of key plays during the game. This means that the average length of a playoff game is about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

How Long are NBA Games in Minutes?

The NBA sets the rules for how each basketball game is played. Each quarter lasts 12 minutes, for a total of 48 minutes.

But that time does not include the 15-minute halftime and the constant breaks in the game for fouls, injuries, and free throws.

We can’t forget that each team has up to seven timeouts per game, with four of them being required. Each team has to take a full timeout every quarter, and they can’t use more than three timeouts in the fourth quarter.

Since the 2017-18 season, NBA timeouts have been 75 seconds long. This was a change from the past when there were short and long timeouts.

In short, the average length of an NBA game is 2.5 hours, but they can go on for up to three hours, especially if they go into overtime.

The Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals played the longest NBA game on January 6, 1951, at the Edgerton Park Arena in Rochester, New York.

The game took 78 minutes to play, and the Olympians won 75-73. There were six overtimes, which are now in the Guinness World Records.

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How Long is WNBA Basketball Game? 

Games in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) last for a total of forty minutes, which is made up of two 20-minute halves. Again, stoppages of the clock make each game last longer, and regular-season games can last up to two and a half hours. On June 8, 2002, the Orlando Miracles and the Cleveland Rockers played the longest game in the history of the WNBA. The Miracle won the game, 103–99, after two hours and fifty-seven minutes of play and three overtime periods.

How Long is an Olympic Basketball Game?

For the Olympics, FIBA basketball games are split into four ten-minute sections called “quarters.” The five-minute overtime in the Olympics is the same as in the NBA. Games usually last about two hours because teams don’t get as many timeouts, and the three-point line is one foot closer than in the NBA.

How Long Does a Basketball Tournament Typically Last?

The length of a game at a basketball tournament will vary in the end. It will depend on the rules of the tournament and how good the players are. Each league can decide how long their tournament games will be on their own.

For example, the halftime in an NCAA tournament game goes from 15 minutes to 20 minutes, making the game longer. Teams in the NCAA tournament are also given one 30-second timeout and four 60-second timeouts.

How Long is Junior Basketball Game? 

But if you move down a level, you might find that the timings change at the Junior and Varsity levels. Most games at this level may be aimed at the same level as NCAA basketball. So, most games will be split into two 20-minute halves. At lower levels, though, there may be four 8-minute quarters instead. It does depend on the level you play at, with most youth leagues focusing on the former and most junior leagues preparing players for the latter.

As always, this depends on the competition and a lot of other things. If the game is played in quarters, the 2-minute and 15-minute breaks at quarters and halftime are often used as interval times. We would suggest that you read the rules of any local competition since the rules can change from one competition to the next.

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How Long is a High school Basketball Game?

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA) says that a high school basketball game lasts 32 minutes, and a youth basketball game lasts 32 minutes. Each game is split into four eight-minute quarters. A high school basketball game takes about 90 minutes to play in real-time.

How Long is a Middle School Basketball Game?

When timeouts, the clock stops, and halftime is taken into account, middle school basketball games last about an hour. Since each quarter lasts 6 minutes, the total time of the game is 24 minutes. Some middle school basketball games have seven-minute quarters.

How Long Does a Basketball Game Last in NCAA?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is what NCAA stands for. There are two 20-minute halves in college basketball games. It takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes to play the whole game. College games have 15-minute breaks between the halves. In a college basketball game, the extra time is 5 minutes.

How Long is a College Basketball Game?

College basketball games in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) are split into two 20-minute halves. There is a 15-minute break between the first and second halves. Most games at the college level take about two hours to finish.

How Long is a FIBA Game?

FIBA games last for 40 minutes and are made up of four 10-minute quarters and, if necessary, five-minute overtimes. Most of the time, these games take about two hours to finish in real-time.

There is a standard 24-second shot clock that keeps the game moving, and there is a 15-minute break between the second and third quarters.

They can only call five timeouts during the game, which is a little less than in other leagues around the world and helps the games go by faster.

How do Timeouts Work in Basketball?

During a game in the NBA, each team gets seven timeouts. There must be two timeouts during each quarter of play. If there aren’t any timeouts left before 6:59, the referees will make one when there’s no play going on and charge it to the home team. If there are no timeouts before 2:59, the referees will give the away team a timeout during the next break in play.

When either team calls a timeout, the clock stops for one minute and fifteen seconds. Only when your team has the ball can you call a timeout. During halftime, teams usually plan their next plays and set up substations on the court so that players can rest.

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How Long is a Youth Basketball Game?

All over the world, there are different rules for how youth basketball leagues run their games. Most games are made up of four 8-minute halves.

For young basketball players, that may seem like a long time, but in most leagues, the clock doesn’t stop except for timeouts and the end of the quarter.

After the second quarter, there is a quick five-minute break for halftime.

What Factors Affect the Length of Basketball Games?

Several things can cause the clock to stop during a basketball game, such as:


If an NBA or WNBA team uses all of its time-outs in one game, it can add up to nine minutes to the length of the game. But each team can only take one full time-out per quarter and can’t use more than three time-outs in the fourth quarter. If there are two or more time-outs left in the fourth quarter, the 75-second time-out is cut to 20 seconds. Time-outs don’t add much time to high school and college games.

Fouls, Injuries, and FreeThrows: 

The game clock stops when there are fouls, injuries, balls that go out of bounds, and free throws. The game clock stops until a throw-in or jump ball puts the ball back in play. Find out how fouls are called in basketball.


Halftime adds fifteen minutes to the length of NBA, WNBA, and college basketball games. The game can’t go on longer than halftime, which may already seem long to people watching on TV because of the commercials that play during halftime.


The length of a basketball game can also be changed over time (OT). There is no limit on how many overtime periods a team can play in an NBA game. In the NBA, WNBA, and FIBA, each overtime period is five minutes long, and each team gets a few extra time-outs for every overtime period played. College basketball games for both men and women can have as many overtime periods as they want.

Shot Clock: 

The shot clock is a timer that tells a basketball team how long it can have the ball before taking a shot. If the shot clock runs out before a team tries to make a field goal, they lose the ball. In 1954, the NBA started using a 24-second shot clock, while the FIBA, the WNBA, and college basketball all used 30-second clocks. But in 2000 and 2006, FIBA and the WNBA switched to the twenty-four-second clock.

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What is The Shot Clock?

In basketball, the shot clock shows how long a team has after getting the ball to score a legal shot.

When a team gets control of the ball, the shot clock starts. Before the shot clock runs out, the player who has the ball must have let go of it. So if the clock goes off while the ball is still in the air and the ball goes in, it will be a goal.

If the shot clock runs out before the team with the ball tries to score, that team has broken the rules, and the other team gets possession of the ball.

Different leagues and associations have different shot clock times:

  • FIBA games: 24 seconds or 14 seconds after an offensive rebound.
  • NBA games: 24 seconds.
  • NCAA college games: 35 seconds for men and 30 seconds for women.
  • NFHS high school games: 30 or 35 seconds.

What is a Timeout?

This is the amount of time a team is given to rest and come up with a plan to get back into the game. In different leagues, there are different rules for timeouts. Also, the timeout is different depending on what league you play in. Here are the different timeouts in basketball:

  • NBA offers each team six timeouts; one timeout lasts about 20 seconds. In the NBA, players can ask for a timeout.
  • In high school, a basketball team is given five timeouts. Three of these timeouts last for a minute, and two last for 30 seconds. In a high school basketball game, a timeout can be called by either the coach or a player.
  • Timeouts in college basketball depend on how well-known the game is. If the game is shown on TV, the teams are given timeouts to talk to the media. Each team gets one 60-second timeout and four 30-second timeouts. On the other hand, normal games have four 75-second timeouts and two 30-second timeouts.


A professional game of men’s basketball lasts close to 2.5 hours. Games have four 12-minute periods and a 15-minute break between the second and third periods. Games take longer to complete due to substitutions, commercial breaks, free throws, and timeouts.

WNBA, Olympic games, NCAA matches, and High School basketball games all take less time to complete than an NBA game. Each of these league’s game clocks takes less time to run, so they take less time to finish. A high school basketball game can take up to an hour and a half to finish if the teams don’t use the mercy rule.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How Long is a Basketball Game?

How long is a full game of basketball?

At the NBA level, each quarter is 12 minutes long, so a full game of basketball will last for a total of 48 minutes. Some big games in Europe and other parts of the world, on the other hand, use 10-minute quarters instead, making the whole game last 40 minutes.

How long do basketball games last for youth leagues?

Most games for young kids last about an hour. Most games in youth leagues are split into two parts. The average length of each half of a youth game is 20 minutes.

How long is a quarter in basketball?

There are four parts to a basketball game. In the NBA, each quarter is 12 minutes long, so a game lasts 48 minutes in total. FIBA games, on the other hand, last 40 minutes, with each quarter lasting 10 minutes.

What is the 8-second rule in basketball?

When a team gets the ball, they have 8 seconds to move the ball into the other team’s half of the court.

How long is halftime in NBA?

The NBA has a 15-minute break at halftime. During halftime, the coaches can talk about how to play the rest of the game, and the players can rest, which is especially important after an intense first half. Most of the time, there are about two to three minutes between each quarter.

How long is a women’s game in college basketball?

Most games for women last for two hours. Each of the four 10-minute quarters is called a “quarter.”

How long is an NBA game from start to finish?

In an NBA game, there are four 12-minute quarters. On its own, that would make an NBA less than an hour long, but they usually last between 2 and 4 hours. This is because of a few things that make an NBA game last longer: a 15-minute halftime break.

How many breaks are in basketball?

Each quarter of the basketball game lasts for 10 minutes. Two quarters are played one way, and the next two are played the other way. Between the first and second periods and the third and fourth periods, there are two-minute breaks. Halftime is 15 minutes.

Why do playoff games usually last longer than regular-season games?

Due to longer commercial breaks, a playoff game takes longer than a regular-season game.

Are NBA games longer than college?

Games in the NBA are longer than games in college. College games have two 20-minute halves, while NBA games have four 12-minute quarters. When you take into account things like timeouts, college games last a little over two hours, while NBA games last around 2.5 hours.

Are NBA games always 48 minutes?

Each quarter lasts 10 minutes. Well, if extra time is needed, the match can last 45 minutes. During that time, the teams almost always find out who will be the winner. But NBA games can last up to 48 minutes, while on the other side of the Atlantic, each quarter lasts 12 minutes.

Why are NBA games longer?

That’s about 12 minutes longer than the average regular season game. The extra time is due to longer timeouts for more commercials and the fact that games tend to be closer, which means there are more timeouts and intentional fouls, which make the games last longer.

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