How Is the NBA Played?

The NBA is the premier professional basketball league in the United States and Canada. NBA players are the world’s best-paid athletes by average annual salary per player.


The National Basketball Association, or NBA, is the world’s premier professional basketball league. Comprising 30 teams across the United States and Canada, the NBA is one of four major professional sports leagues in North America, along with Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League.

Dating back to 1946, when it was founded as the Basketball Association of America, the NBA has grown to become one of the most popular spectator sports in the world. Each season begins in October and runs through early April, with a brief break in February for the much-anticipated All-Star Game.

Teams play a total of 82 regular season games – 41 at home and 41 on the road – before entering into a playoff tournament that culminates with the Finals. The best-of-seven championship series pits the winners of each conference against each other, with home court advantage going to whichever team posted a better record during the regular season.

Players in the NBA come from all over the world, but most are Americans who have honed their skills in colleges across the country. The league also features many prominent international players, who have made their way to the NBA after starting their careers in other professional leagues around Europe and Asia.

Over its more than 70-year history, the NBA has seen many great players come through its ranks, cementing its place as one of the premier sporting leagues in the world. If you’re curious about how this thrilling league works or want to learn more about some of its most iconic players and moments, read on!

The Court

The court is regulation sized at 50 feet by 94 feet. The baskets are 10 feet high. The 3-point line is 23 feet, 9 inches from the basket in the corners and 22 feet in the rest of the arc. There is a free-throw line 15 feet from the basket.

The Basket

Each team tries to score by throwing the ball through the opponents’ basket, which is a horizontal pole suspended 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground. The game is played in four quarters of 10 minutes each. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, overtime periods of five minutes each are played until one team has scored.

The basket is placed at each end of the court. It consists of a metal ring from which a net hangs. The bottom of the net is 10 feet (3.0 m) above the floor and its top is 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) above the floor. A backboard that is 6 feet (1.8 m) wide and 3.5 feet (1 m) tall attaches to the back of each basket ring and extends vertically behind it for 10 feet (3 metres). Under NBA rules, regulation backboards must be made of tempered glass that is at least ⅝ inches thick; backboards in high school and lower levels may be made from other materials as long as they have similar dimensions, including being rectangular rather than trapezoidal as at many levels below NBA competition

The Ball

An official NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumference and weighs 22 ounces. The ball is made of leather and has a rubber bladder for inflation. The balls are dimpled to help players grip the ball when shooting, passing or dribbling.

Each team is allowed up to seven substitutions per game. Substitutions can be made at any time during the game, but can only be done when play is stopped. Substitutions are unlimited in overtime periods.

The Game

The NBA is played between two teams of five players each, with a focus on dribbling and shooting the basketball into the team’s basket. The game is played on a rectangular court, and points are scored by shooting the ball through the basket. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

There are four quarters in an NBA game, each lasting 12 minutes. The clock stops whenever there is a dead ball, and starts again when play resumes. If a team is ahead by more than 15 points at any point in the fourth quarter, the clock will stop automatically for 2-minute intervals until the lead is less than 15 points.

At halftime, the teams switch sides of the court. The team with more points at the end of regulation time wins the game. If both teams are tied at the end of regulation time, then overtime periods of 5 minutes each are played until one team has more points at the end of an overtime period.

The Players

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America. The league is composed of 30 teams, 29 from the United States and 1 from Canada. The NBA is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, and is widely considered to be the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world.

The NBA was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). It changed its name to the National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with the rival National Basketball League (NBL). The league’s several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in Midtown Manhattan. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.

The Players:
Each team can have a maximum of 15 players on its roster. A minimum of 12 players must be active for each game. Most players are drafted by teams through a process called the NBA draft. undrafted rookies who have distinct skillsets can sign with teams as free agents if they clear waivers. Players contracts are only guaranteed for one season; however, many players will agree to longer-term deals with their respective teams prior to becoming free agents that can offer more money and job security than shorter contracts that will pay them less per season but allow them to become free agents sooner.

During the course of an NBA game, each team can have a maximum of 5 players on the court at any one time: 4 outfield players and 1 goalkeeper. Outfield players must be designated as either a shooting guard (“2”), small forward (“3”), power forward (“4”), or center (“5”). In most cases, each team will also have 2 or 3 additional players known as “benchwarmers” who do not usually play during regular game play but may be used if needed due to injuries or poor performance by other members of the team. A player can be “fouled out” of a game if he commits too many fouls, which results in his having to leave the game and his team losing a player for the duration of the game.

The Referees

In every NBA game, there are two referees who are responsible for making sure that the game is fair and is played according to the rules. They are also responsible for calling any fouls that occur during the game. The referees will also keep track of the score and the time remaining in the game.

The two teams in an NBA game will each have five players on the court at any given time. The goal of the game is to score more points than the other team by shooting the ball through a hoop. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Each player on a team can score points by shooting the ball through their opponent’s hoop. If a player shoots the ball and it goes through their own hoop, they will not receive any points. A player can also score points by being fouled by their opponent while they are shooting the ball, and they will receive free throws as a result.

The game is divided into four quarters, each lasting 12 minutes. At the end of each quarter, the team with the most points will be declared the winner of that quarter. However, if both teams have equal amounts of points at the end of a quarter, then that quarter will be declared a tie.

At halftime, which occurs after two quarters have been played, both teams will have a chance to rest and make any adjustments to their strategy that they feel are necessary. After halftime, both teams will return to playing until all four quarters have been completed and a winner has been declared.


While different in many ways, the NBA is played very similarly to other professional basketball leagues around the world. The biggest difference is probably the length of the season, which at 82 games, is far longer than most other leagues. Other than that, the NBA plays by the same rules as FIBA basketball, which means that there are some differences in things like court size and foul rules. But for the most part, if you know how to play basketball, you know how to play in the NBA.

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