The NBA has a potential solution to one of the most common complaints among basketball fans. Effective with the 2017-18 season, teams will be limited to two timeouts apiece during the final three minutes of the game.
The rule change, announced by the league on Wednesday, is an attempt to speed up basketball’s sometimes endless endgames.
Depending on the situation, coaches often called timeouts and instructed players to foul, moves that brought games to a sluggish speed when they should have been reaching its climax.
“These changes will help us fulfil our goal of improving game flow and pace of play,” Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations, said in a statement. “Fewer stoppages and less time without action, especially at the end of a game, will further enhance the viewing experience for our fans.”
Basketball has long been plagued by the disjointed nature of its final minutes. In 2015, Chicago Tribune columnist Philip Hersh called the end of an NBA game “the dullest 2 minutes in sports.”
The year before, Michael Beuoy, a sports analyst and blogger at Unpredictable, researched how much real time it took to play each minute of an average NBA game. At 5.4 minutes, the final minute was way out in front, illustrating the NBA’s pace-of-play problem.
The new restriction on timeouts isn’t the only change coming to the NBA. The league also did away with 90-second and 20-second timeouts, replacing both with 75-second timeouts. Each team will be allotted seven timeouts per game, down from nine.
In addition, the league moved the trade deadline up by two weeks, placing it ten days before the All-Star Game.