The last minute or so of basketball games, college or pro, is going to take a while if the game's tight. But what about all the other minutes—how long do those take, relative to each other? Inpredictable played a riff on our NCAA tournament stopwatch viewing and ran the timestamps for every play in every NBA game this season. Above is how long each minute in takes in a game, on average.
A few things. One, yes, last minutes take a long time, but that's something we're used to. Same goes for the mandatory TV timeout minutes. But the very fast (you might even say fluid) pace of the first minutes of every quarter, and the gradual ramping up of the various things clogging up the game as time goes on, is just frustrating—doubly so for the second and fourth quarters, which are thrown out of whack in their fourth minute, instead of the seventh. The pacing makes sense from just having watched a fair share of basketball games, but you have to wonder: How much of that is on officials, and how much on the teams? Officials may be very slightly sheepish to blow the whistle right as play is starting, but it also probably doesn't help that the second units are in for many of the big jumps in play time.
Game length doesn't vary much among ESPN, TNT, and ABC, apparently, but there's a dive in length when you drop down to NBA TV, and again to local affiliates, which makes sense. So there, now you know why the best quarters to skip in an NBA game are the second, and the beginning of the fourth.