How Long Does A Basketball Game Last?

Basketball is a popular way of entertainment as well as physical exercise.

Different groupsof people around the world play this game for different purposes.

But, whatever their purposes are,the gameshave to be finished within a specific timeframe.

Normally, friendly games, those are played for entertainment purposes with friends, hardly follow a specific time schedule.

But in a competitive tournament, there are some timeframes for each league. Every league decides this time structure depending on their rules and competitive nature of the tournament.

Whether you are a player, coach or basketball lover, understanding the rules regarding the length of a game is important.

It is a must for a coach and player. It can also help a fan to manage his time to watch the game in his busy schedule.

Major Basketball Leagues and Their Timeframes 

As I said, a friendly match hardly has a definite time schedule.There are a good number of leagues around the world who follow their own time formats.

Here we are going to discuss three different timeframes of three major leagues of basketball.

High School Basketball 

Basketball is one of the most commonly played sports in high schools.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, all high school basketball matches must last at least 32 minutes each.

This 32-minute game is also divided into four different parts called quarter. Each quarter of the match lasts for eight minutes.

In between the 1st and 2nd quarter and the 3rd and 4th quarter, coaches and players remain on the ground during an official timeout. And there is a 10-minute interval session after the first half of the game.

College Basketball

College level basketball games are different from high school basketball.College games have two halves instead of four quarters of a play.

Each half of the game lasts for 20 minutes. So, a complete match is 40 minutes long. In between the first and second half, there is a 15 minutes break for the players.

National Basketball Association 

NBA mainly organizes the game in the USA. In NBA games, a match consists of 4 quarters. But unlike a school level basketball game, here the quarters last for 12 minutes each.

So, the entire game is a combination of 4 parts, that sums up 48 in minutes. Like college basketball game, here players and coach get 15 minutes of rest in between the halves of the game.


Above described time was the initial time for a basketball match.

However, if a match doesn’t have its winner after the initial time, it turns to additional time. All levels of basketball games have this opportunity for the teams.

In high school basketball, this additional period is four minutes. In the NBA and the college basketball league, this overtime is five minutes long.

If at the end of overtime still the result is tied, then another overtime period is given to the teams. This process continues until one team wins at the end of an overtime period.

Final Length of a Basketball Game

After all, a basketball game takes slightly longer than its actual length even if there is no tie in the game.

Because a game irrespective of its level, includes some optional activities such as half-time, fouls, timeouts and ball out-of-bounds.

All those activities result in a lot of instructions anda few extra minutes. Overall, including all the formalities and rules, a typical game takes 2-2.5 hours to be finished.

3 Longest Game in The History of NBA Basketball

There are some games that went beyond any normal competition.

In NBA basketball history, there are such three games that have lasted at least five overtimes!

On November 9, 1989, Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle Super Sonics played one of the longest games in the history. It had 5 overtimes.

Another game also took 5 overtimes to get its winner on November 24, 1949. The match held between Syracuse Nationals and Anderson Packers.

Finally, the longest one was played by Indianapolis Olympians and Rochester Royals. That game required six overtimes to decide a winner. After playing all those 6 overtimes, Indianapolis Olympians won the fight scoring 75 points.

Last Words

Any game of any league can be extended if both teams have the equal aptitude.

So, if you want to go for enjoying a basketball match, you should plan for a 3-hour game. Otherwise, you may have to leave the match without knowing the final result of your favorite team.

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