In the NBA a team enters the bonus when the opposing team commits 5 fouls. Seems simple, but the more games I watch the more different scenario's I see for a team to get into the bonus. Are there any other criteria a team can meet to get into the bonus?

I also have watched game 7 of the NBA Finals in which the Cleveland Cavaliers had "a foul to give" on the last possession. Is this the foul the Cavaliers can commit before the Warriors would be sent to the free throw line?

2 Answers 2


You have it mostly correct. It should be noted that offensive fouls do not count toward the bonus, though. So one team could commit 5 fouls on the offensive end in a single quarter, but the other team would not be heading to the line.

Regarding Game 7 of the 2016 Finals - you are spot on. If a team has not reached the foul limit for a quarter, any remaining fouls are referred to as "fouls to give" - meaning that the team can commit tactical fouls without sending an opposing player to the line.

Having a "foul to give" can be especially useful in late game situations, as it disrupts the other team's offensive flow and minimizes the amount of time they have to get a good shot off.


This is covered in section in rule 12, section V of the NBA Rule Book (page 46 for the linked edition). Although commonly called the "Bonus", the rules refer to this as the "penalty" or the "free throw penalty situation".

In a regulation quarter, you get 4 common fouls without penalty, while in an overtime period you get only 3.

During the final 2 minutes of a period, you have a maximum of one more foul without penalty (even if you have committed zero fouls to that point). So 2 fouls in the final minute would guarantee penalty throws.

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