NBA Playoffs Totals Betting
by Aaron Smith - 4/23/2010
The National Basketball Association’s playoffs are here, and that means it’s time to adjust your betting strategies to align yourself with the typical playoff trends. The NBA regular season is such a long grind that some regular season games lose importance to teams. However, now that we are in the playoffs, everyone will be motivated to play their best. The most noticeable difference in the playoffs is probably the lower scoring games. There are several factors that play into this and effect betting on totals, so let’s take a closer look at what it means to bettors.
Why are the games lower scoring in the playoffs? The game means a lot more to each team, so the tempo of the game is usually a decent amount slower. At the same time, NBA players have been known to slack off on defense quite a bit during the regular season. During the playoffs, the defensive intensity picks up a great deal. Also, don’t forget about the referees, who tend to let the players play a little more during the playoffs. Away from the ball fouls and touch fouls are generally played through during this period.
Does this mean you should just go out there and start betting on the ‘under’ for every single NBA playoff game? A wise bettor should know that betting is never that easy. The oddsmakers are smart, and they adjust the total in a big way for the playoffs. Here are a couple good examples of the adjustments that go into an NBA playoff game total:
- The Lakers and Thunder matched up three times between Nov. 22, 2009 and March 26, 2010. The posted total was 200 twice, and 197.5 the other time. Now fast forward to the NBA playoffs: Game 1 had a posted total of 197, Game 2 was 192.5, and Game 3 was 191.
- The Magic and Bobcats met in both January and March during the regular season. The totals on those two games were 190.5 and 189. In the playoffs, the total for Game One was 187 and for Game Two, it was 186.
As you can see, there was definitely a downward movement in the posted total in both of these instances. While three or four points may not sound like a ton of points, it is extremely crucial when you realize that most games finish quite close to their posted total.
As it does in the regular season, the individual matchup has lot to do with how much the game may slow down in the playoffs. For example, the games between Utah and Denver have both sailed over the posted total, because neither team wants to slow the pace down at all. When you find two teams in the postseason that both like to run, and the oddsmakers have adjusted the total downward, it may just be a solid opportunity to bet on the ‘over’. On the other side of the spectrum, the Bobcats understand they need to slow the game down against the Magic, and the final totals of the first two games have been just 187 and 169 points. A physical team that wishes to slow down the tempo of the game can generally do so much easier as the games get more meaningful, which can make the under the play to consider. Thus far, in the 2010 NBA playoffs, the ‘over’ has cashed seven times, while the ‘under’ has hit seven times as well. The games are definitely lower scoring in general, but remember that the oddsmakers have set a solid line, so it is all about the matchups!
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