NBA Rules: How do coaches challenges work?

Chauncey Billups (left), Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Chauncey Billups (left), Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Basketball is often a game of runs. Portland Trail Blazers fans saw it a million times during the Damian Lillard era – the team is down 11, Dame cans a trio of 3-pointers and the lead is down to two, or vice versa. But what if Lillard had a toe on the line on one of those threes? What if Matisse Thybulle pokes the ball away and the Blazers earned possession, but his pinkie may have grazed the ball on its way out of bounds? That’s where the NBA coaches challenge rule comes into play.

How do NBA coaches challenges work and what’s new for the 2023-24 season?

The coaches challenge was designed for those aforementioned, sometimes game-changing situations. It allows coaches to ask the officials to take another look at any given play if they think the original call on the floor was incorrect.

Until this season, coaches had one challenge to use per game, regardless of if they were right or wrong. However, they’ll get a little more leeway this season.

They still have one challenge in the bag – but if their challenge is successful, they earn the right to a second. There’s another rule change for the 2023-24 season as well: Teams must have a timeout to use a challenge, and even if it was successful and a second challenge is given, coaches don’t get that timeout back.

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Trail Blazers’ Head Coach Chauncey Billups used a challenge in the preseason, maybe just to test the waters with the rule change, or maybe because he knows he won’t get many chances to use one during the regular season.

With a young, reloading roster, Portland might not be in enough close games for the opportunity to even present itself.