How Long Is Halftime in the NBA? Intermission and Breaks


Basketball lying on the court during NBA halftime.

When an NBA game reaches halftime, fans in the arena scramble to the concession stands and restrooms. Viewers at home may do their laundry, take out the trash, or prepare a quick meal. They all want to be back in their seats before play resumes. With that in mind…

How long is halftime in the NBA?

Halftime in the NBA is 15 minutes long. Coaches use this time to review their game plans and communicate adjustments to the team, while players rest up for the second half. Players usually take the last few minutes of halftime to warm up before the second half begins.

Halftime is different for each level of basketball. The higher-profile games have halftime entertainment, while lower levels may revolve around Capri Sun and orange slices. If you’d like to learn more about why halftime in the NBA lasts 15 minutes and the differences in length at each level, we encourage you to keep reading.

How Long Is NBA Halftime?

In the NBA, halftime is 15 minutes long. This break allows players to regroup and refocus if they had a bad first half. Coaches may focus on making strategy adjustments without the multitasking that comes with calling plays or pleading with referees.

When a team is struggling, halftime can’t come soon enough. Just ask the Los Angeles Clippers, who entered halftime of a Dec. 2020 game on the losing end of a 77-27 score. The Dallas Mavericks’ 50-point lead is the largest halftime lead in NBA history.

Steph Curry also welcomes halftime when he’s having a bad game. Curry takes the 15-minute break to scroll through his social media and see what fans are saying about him. He picks out unkind language to motivate himself in the second half.

While this may seem crazy, it’s hard to question this ritual because it seems to work. After all, Curry is a former scoring champion and one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time.

How Long Is the Break Between Periods in the NBA?

Nosebleed view of the Toronto Raptors basketball court.

NBA games are divided into four quarters with shorter breaks between the first and second quarter and between the third and fourth quarter. These quarter breaks are 130 seconds long. For fans, this is hardly enough time for a restroom break.

For players, this short break is just enough to catch their breath. On the business side, this time is valuable for television advertising.

For 37 years, George Gervin held the NBA record for most points in a quarter (33 points). That record was eventually broken by Golden State’s Klay Thompson, who scored 37 points in the third quarter during a 2015 game against Sacramento. Thompson made all 13 field goal attempts, including nine three-pointers.

Less than two years later, Cleveland’s Kevin Love almost matched Thompson’s record, scoring 34 points in the first quarter versus Portland.

How Long Is FIBA Halftime?

Like the NBA, FIBA games have 15-minute halftimes. There’s a slight difference in the breaks between quarters. FIBA’s first-second and third-fourth period breaks are two minutes long, just 10 seconds shorter than in the NBA. This small difference might make up for FIBA having shorter quarters than the NBA (10 minutes vs. 12 minutes).

In the 1992 Summer Olympics, most of Team USA’s games were all but decided by halftime. In eight games, the “Dream Team” averaged 117 points per game with an average win margin exceeding 40 points per game! In its first game, a win over Angola, Team USA had 30 steals.

How Long Is WNBA Halftime?

WNBA rules have become a blend of FIBA and NBA rules. WNBA halftime is 15 minutes long. Other time-related rules in the WNBA changed in 2006. The league went from 20-minute halves to 10-minute quarters. The shot clock dropped from 30 seconds to 24 seconds and there are no longer jump balls to begin each period.

These rule changes made WNBA games faster-paced and enabled players to showcase their skills more often. Eight of the ten highest single-game rebounding performances have come since 2006. The WNBA single-game scoring record has been broken five times in that period. The higher tempo also made the 15-minute halftime more valuable for resting up and rehydrating.

How Long Is College Basketball Halftime?

In College Basketball, the length of halftime is dictated by the type of game. For regular-season games, halftime is 15 minutes long. For NCAA Tournament games, halftime is 20 minutes long. Men’s games are divided into 20-minute halves while women’s games are split into 10-minute quarters.

Sometimes, the normal 15-minute halftime break isn’t enough. In Jan. 2021, the 2nd half of a Villanova-Providence men’s college game was delayed… due to sun glare. Some of the older college basketball arenas have large windows to allow natural sunlight in the building. On this January day, the sunlight proved to be too strong.

Concerns about visibility issues on the basketball court were solved after Villanova’s facility maintenance team covered the windows during halftime

This wasn’t the only issue that has arisen over the years. In March 2020, a Big East Tournament game between St. John’s and Creighton was canceled at halftime. The Big East was among several conferences whose tournaments were already underway when issues related to COVID-19 shut the sports world down.

How Long Is High School Basketball Halftime?

Two high school basketball players participate in a jump ball.

Halftime in high school basketball is 10 minutes long – notably shorter than halftime at higher levels. With that in mind, high school games are shorter than more advanced leagues. High school games are divided into four eight-minute quarters.

While entering halftime means there are still 16 minutes of gameplay left, it doesn’t always represent the halfway mark of the game. In many states, high school sports leagues use a “mercy rule” to speed up the game if the score gets too lopsided.

In Nebraska, for example, the second-half game clock will continue running through dead ball situations once a team’s lead has reached 40 points. The clock will only pause for time-outs, the third-fourth quarter break, and injuries.

In other high school sports, games may end early if they’re not competitive. In New Jersey, baseball games end early if a team is winning by 10 or more runs after 5 innings. Most states have some kind of mercy rule in place.

In rare events, a running clock won’t stop a blowout. A Montana girls basketball game switched to a running clock after one team entered halftime with a 59-0 lead. The losing team didn’t fare any better in the second half, as Froid-Medicine Lake defeated Brockton, 102-0.

How Long Is Youth Basketball Halftime?

Youth basketball halftime is five minutes long. Besides halftime, youth basketball rules vary by age group and location. The hoop height, for example, might be eight feet for younger players but 10 feet for those close to middle-school age. Youth leagues typically use a running clock from the start of each game.

Basketball Halftime Shows?

At only 15 minutes long, professional and college halftimes don’t provide much time for entertainment, but fans still get the opportunity to watch talented performers in various types of acts.

The NBA All-Star game traditionally features popular musical acts. In 2002, Sir Elton John performed “Philadelphia Freedom” among several other famous tracks. In 2006, John Legend and Carrie Underwood collaborated for the All-Star Game halftime show.

For the 2020 All-Star Game, Chance The Rapper joined Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled, and Quavo to perform a special tribute to Kobe Bryant, who passed away earlier that year.

Not every halftime show shares the same tradition as NBA All-Star weekend. NBA franchises come up with creative, lighthearted ways to entertain fans during halftime. A 2013 game between the Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs featured a team of rescue dogs wowing the crowd with special tricks. Many teams use mascots to do silly tricks or bring fans onto the court for a free throw or layup contest.

One of the most famous halftime acts is Red Panda – the stage name for the versatile acrobat, Krystal Niu. Red Panda uses a variety of props to impress patrons at high-profile NBA games. She has elite coordination, strength, and focus. In one performance, she’ll balance bowls on her head, arms, while riding a unicycle. Even crazier, the unicycle is eight feet tall!

While she’s on the unicycle, she also flips and juggles bowls in the air, before catching them and rebalancing them on her body. It sounds too crazy to believe, but that’s why Red Panda is such an attraction for NBA halftime shows.

For those viewing a televised basketball game, some stations offer halftime shows featuring sports anchors and analysts. Inside The NBA is one of the most popular halftime programs. A Grammy Award-winning show on TNT, Inside The NBA features basketball legends Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith.

They provide unique perspectives on the games they’re covering by incorporating their sense of humor into their analysis. and balance that analysis with a sense of humor. Inside The NBA doesn’t limit their coverage to halftime; they’re in the studio throughout the night’s full schedule of NBA games.

While a 15-minute halftime doesn’t sound like much, it’s key to letting players rest before the second half. Fortunately for fans, there’s plenty of entertainment to keep them busy as players get ready for the second half.

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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