BROOKLYN, N.Y. — There is an adage stating you needn’t bother to watch an NBA game until the final two minutes. The bulk of the contest is merely setting the stage for a finale in which the best and most meaningful action is condensed into made-for-TV drama.
The league’s experiment with a 44-minute game yesterday was not designed to support that assertion. Nor did the Celtics’ 95-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets provide evidence in favor of the less-is-more lobby.
The contest lasted 1 hour, 58 minutes — a minute less than the Celtics’ 111-91 win at Philadelphia Thursday — and the preseason lack of flow and intensity hardly provide a reflection of a regular-season game.
“You notice it a little bit when you are subbing at the start of quarters,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “But I thought the flow with the one less timeout was actually a little bit better in the second and fourth. But, no, I didn’t notice it, other than that.
“When I’m subbing, I’m looking at the clock and it’s seven or six on the clock and I have to get myself back because only five minutes has gone off and it says six on the clock. That’s a little bit different. But I had it mapped out so I kind of knew what I was going to do. I didn’t notice it a whole lot.
“I don’t know how much impact it had on the game. I didn’t think we’d get to 60 at one point, the way we were scoring.”
Stevens’s halftime talk apparently did the motivational trick. The Celtics, who trailed by as many as 17 points in the opening half, blitzed the Nets, 33-14, in the third quarter.
“I just think we played with more purpose on both ends, our mind-set was much better,” Stevens said. “I didn’t think our mind-set was good. And then I think the effects of [the Nets’] trip probably had something to do with how they shot — they missed some open shots in the third quarter and those shots — I’ve been to China and I’ve been back and it takes about a week to get your legs back.”
In theory, less minutes could give players less time to pace themselves. But Nets coach Lionel Hollins said starters’ playing time would not be altered in an 11-minute quarter. Reserves go full speed, anyway, so even with less time to show their stuff, they are not likely to ratchet things up any more than usual.
“I don’t have a problem with 48 minutes, but if they [the NBA] feel this is a way to protect players a little more, shorten the game so it fits in the TV window, so be it,” Hollins said before the game. “Nothing changes. The change will be for the guys that don’t start.
“If Joe Johnson is playing 35 minutes in a 48-minute game, he’s playing 35 minutes in a 44-minute game. It just means the guys coming off the bench will have four less minutes to operate. So, it will affect the bench more than it will affect the starters.”
A switch to the shorter time span would cut the equivalent of 6½ games off each team’s schedule. No word if statistics would be prorated to reflect the change.
“I looked up — I’m so used to seeing 12 — I looked up and seen it was like five-something on the clock,” said the Celtics’ Jared Sullinger, who had 21 points and 19 rebounds. “And I’m like, man, normally I come out around the seven-minute mark. And then it was like, no, it’s an 11-minute [quarter]. I was like, ‘That explains everything.’ So, it was kind of weird. Four minutes less, but just happy we won.”
Sullinger led all players in playing time with 28 minutes, 35 seconds, going to the bench with 40.1 seconds on the clock.
“I was hoping he’d get the 20-20, but coach pulled him at the end,” Celtic forward Jeff Green said. “I mean, you see it there, when he’s on the floor he’s a threat. When he’s rebounding the ball and doing the things he’s doing, he helps us out all kinds of ways.”
Stevens said before the game the lack of a television timeout in the second and fourth quarters “will test people conditioning-wise.”
“I do think [the Nets] called a timeout with eight-something left in the half and then we had a typical six- or seven-minute stretch before another timeout,” Stevens said. “That’s when you start seeing players gassed in a normal first or third quarter, and usually you don’t have those extended periods in the second or fourth. Now you open up that game in the second or fourth to those more extended periods — the conditioning, the fatigue will be impactful.”
Young nears return
James Young (left hamstring) could return this week. The Celtics (4-3) and Nets (3-1) conclude the exhibition season at the Garden Wednesday. “[Young] was not released to do everything yesterday, but we didn’t do everything,” Stevens said. “All we did was a pretty light workout, so we didn’t go live. We probably won’t go live in practice tomorrow and then we’ll go live Tuesday. Hopefully, that progression allows him to do that by Tuesday — we’ll see.”
Wallace starts slow
Gerald Wallace (knee) got off to a slow start in his return to action, playing 4:55 without taking a shot in the second quarter . . . Former Celtic Kevin Garnett (stomach virus) was unavailable for the Nets.