How Does Overtime Work in the NBA?

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Most people look forward to any NBA games because of their neck-and-neck momentum. Since players are eager to win the game, sometimes it ends up with a tied score. Hence, that is when overtime comes into play. Now, how does overtime work in the NBA, then?

This blog article will look at the data surrounding overtime in the NBA, from the frequency of overtime games to the techniques used by NBA coaches. Whether a newbie fan or an avid supporter, this blog will help you grasp the importance of overtime in professional basketball, like the NBA.

What are the Overtime Rules in the NBAWhat are the Overtime Rules in the NBA?

Before understanding the NBA overtime rules, it is essential to understand what overtime means in NBA. Overtime is a rule in the NBA that will help decide the victor of a game tied at the end of supposed time. 

In other words, the players are given extra time to break the tie score and emerge as the game’s victor. From the term itself, it happens when there is no clear winner, so the officials have to declare an “overtime” or extra time.

  • Overtime lasts for five minutes.

The NBA rules state that it is played in five-minute increments if necessary, with a five-minute break between the first and second additional sessions. Technically, the additional five minutes to the 48-minute or four-quarter regulation time becomes the fifth period.

  • There have to be 130 seconds of break between each overtime period.

Before the additional period starts, there will be a break between the regulation and overtime periods. The break lasts 2 minutes and 10 seconds, so your coach has to decide the strategies to win the game, and the players he will make the plan successful.

  • An overtime period starts with a jump ball

To decide who gets to own the ball, the game starts with a quarter possession rule. It means that before the start of the overtime, the teams will have their players do a jump ball at the center of the court.

  • The two 60-second timeouts in overtime

Also, each team will still be given timeouts for substituting or changing their game plan. In the NBA, each team will be given two 60-second timeouts. It is just the same as the regular periods.

  • There are unlimited overtime periods in NBA

Every NBA game needs to have a victor—that is why a game should not end with a tie. Hence, each game can last for unlimited overtime to decide who will take the bragging rights at the end of the game.

How Many Overtimes are Allowed in the NBAHow Many Overtimes are Allowed in the NBA?

Another vital thing to remember is that playing for a sixth period is exhausting. Hence, you must strive hard to make a scoring advantage during this additional period. Most overtime in the NBA involves a buzzer-beater moment, wherein a team can make a basket point right before the timer stops.

There is unlimited overtime in any NBA game. As in regulation time, each team plays with five players on the court. So, how many overtimes in the NBA playoffs and regular season?

In other words, there is a possibility that another period or overtime will be given should there be another tie at the end of the first overtime period. Not only is it exhausting to play for six or more periods, but it is so rare to have such a fate.

However, it is possible to have more than one overtime because each team tends to be extra aggressive and defensive during these periods. The simple rationale is that they are so close to winning that they strive to take the lead and block any scoring chance of the opponent.

How Many Overtimes are Allowed in the NBA (2)Record for the Most Overtime Game in NBA History

As expected, the NBA has the most exciting games in basketball since they have the most outstanding players worldwide. Since players are highly skilled, overtime is inevitable.

Most NBA fans think there will only be one overtime in every game. Not to burst your bubble, but there were instances in NBA history when a game lasted for more than six periods. Just thinking about it makes us feel the tension and heat during the game.

The record for most overtime in a single game in NBA history was six additional periods, making the game last for ten periods. The game in question was played between the Rochester Royals and the Indianapolis Olympians in 1951. 

The Olympians finally burned the majestic wall of defense of the Royals in the tenth period with a score of 75-73. Yes, they fought for their lives for six additional periods for that two-point lead.

Top 5 Longest Games in NBA HistoryTop 5 Longest Games in NBA History

On average, NBA games last until the fourth period. Once the regulation period ends, a clear victor takes the win. However, there are cases wherein games go beyond the regulation period because of a tie.

The average time of an NBA game is 48 minutes because each of the four quarters lasts 12 minutes. However, a game can last up to two hours because of timeouts, breaks, etc.

The longest game in NBA history lasted until ten periods. Now that you are curious about how it happened check out our detailed list of the most extended games in NBA history below. 

1. Indianapolis Olympians vs. Rochester Royals

It is the longest NBA game in history, with six overtime periods. This nerve-wracking game in 1951 ended with a bang and a small margin, 75-73, in favor of the Olympians. The teams recorded scoreless periods in the first two overtime during the game.

2. Anderson Packers vs. Syracuse Nationals

Before the historic six-overtime game of the Olympians and Rochester Royals, the Packers and Nationals held the record with five overtime games in 1949. Similarly, the game ended with a neck-and-neck score of 125-123—yes, a two-point lead made the Packers the victor.

3. Milwaukee Bucks vs. Seattle Supersonics

In 1989, the Bucks and Supersonics replicated the history with their five-overtime record in a single game. Supersonics did not let their guards down in every period, but their defenses toppled during the final period. The Bucks took home the bragging rights with a one-point lead, 155-154.

4. New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks

It is so rare these days to have more than three overtime, and Knicks and Hawks made a modern-day record with four overtime in 2017. During the final overtime, the Carmelo Antjony-led Knicks bested the Paul Millsap-led Hawks with a score of 142-139. Not only is it a modern-day overtime record, but it is also the first time to have three points lead in the most extended NBA game history.

5. Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks made another appearance and ended up in the same fate again. In 2019, the Chicago Bulls went against a challenging game with the Hawks, 168-161. By far, it is the longest NBA game with a high margin. 

Wrapping Things Up: How Does Overtime Work in the NBA?

Some fans make basketball overtime predictions during a neck-and-neck game, especially since everyone wants their bets to win. With all the games in recent years, no one can ever top the six overtime periods in 1951. Wait, how does overtime work in the NBA?

Overtime happens when a regulation period ends with a tied score. The officials grant the teams five minutes. However, another overtime period will be given should there be another time in the end until a team establishes a score lead.

One more thing, a jump ball will be done to decide which team gets possession of the ball. Each team will be given 60 seconds or 1 minute of a timeout every overtime period. Lastly, there needs to have a two-minute and 3o seconds break time before an overtime period starts.

You need to secure a point lead to prevent more than two overtime periods. While it is so great to be on the most extended NBA game list, ending a game as soon as possible is more practical—to save time, energy, and effort and prepare for the coming games in the following days.

In the modern-day basketball scene, only a few teams ended up having more than three overtime. This narrative does not mean that NBA payers nowadays are better or worse than veteran players.

NBA rules sometimes change over the years, but it might be impossible to limit the frequency of NBA overtime. This case is not just prevalent in NBA but also in other leagues; hence, you must know how overtime works in NBA should there be cases you encounter such a situation.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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