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5 ways Olympic basketball rules differ from NBA rules

carmelo anthony team usa

The Olympics are the pinnacle of sports, where each country sends its best athletes to represent and compete at the highest level.

The NBA is the world’s premiere basketball league and follows its own rules rather than adhere to the rules the rest of the world follows. In Olympic competition, the international rules apply, so the US must adjust the way it plays to conform to the same rules as everyone else.

Here are five ways international rules differ from your normal NBA rules:

1. Olympic basketball games are shorter

The NBA is the fastest game of the four major sports, which makes Olympic basketball even faster. While they both share a 24-second shot clock, the length of the game is not the same.

The NBA runs four 12-minute quarters which adds up to 48 minutes, while Olympic games run four 10-minute quarters for 40 minutes instead.

2. The Olympic Games only allow five fouls

The NBA allows players six fouls before they are disqualified from a game, and two technical fouls is an immediate disqualification.

Olympic basketball allows only five fouls before a player has to sit out for good. Both allow teams to enter the bonus after 5 team fouls in a quarter, where the fouled player will shoot free throws after every foul instead of taking it back out of bounds with a reset shot clock.

3. The Olympic Games’ 3-Point line is closer

NBA players have an affinity for launching 3-pointers in today’s league, and eschew long two point shots. The NBA 3-point line is measured at 23 feet, 9 inches, while the Olympic line is measured at 22 feet, 1.75 inches.

That would qualify for a long two-pointer in the NBA, but all of the great shooters in the league will enjoy this much more. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony will probably take more 3-pointers than ever.

4. Olympic basketball games have less timeouts

The biggest difference is that players are not allowed to call timeouts; only coaches can.

Timeouts are only one minute long, with each team allowed only two in the first half and three in the second half. If there is overtime, only one is allowed. The NBA allows a team one 20-second timeout per half and six total regular timeouts per game. That’s the reason you’ll see more commercials and advertising in the NBA.

5. Olympic basketball games allow goaltending and zone defense

These are lumped together because they both occur on defense, although goaltending is allowed on offense as well.

The Olympic Games allow players to smack the ball away from above the rim, which is not legal in the NBA. Don’t be surprised to see shots that look good going in but end up being slapped away from the cylinder.

Zone defenses are also heavier in the Olympics as all forms of zone are allowed. There is no three-second rule, which makes it particularly difficult to constantly drive to the paint at will. Be prepared to see a lot of jump shots and dunks from transition buckets and steals.

Check out Team USA‘s full Olympic schedule here.

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