One animal (unwillingly) has been synonymous with sports betting ever since I can remember. That poor animal is the moose. Getting "moosed" refers to a bet that has gone horribly wrong despite the fact that everything was progressing just as planned.
There is nothing worse than playing a total and getting moosed by half a point because a guy could not make his free throw. That is infuriating to say the least. While nothing (known to man, yet) can be done to change the outcome of the game, you can prepare for how the game should play out.
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The pace of play in the NBA is something every "totals" player should take into account (and I'm sure they do). You will find a direct correlation in pace per game and points for/against per game. The top "over" teams seem to have two things in common. The first: they can put up points in bunches. The second: they play little to no defense whatsoever.
While you will never exactly know how a team will come out to play on any given night, you should be taking into account the spot (travel, rest, letdown, etc) and the pace of play for both teams to make an educated guess on how the game should play out.
Let's take a look at the best "Over/Under" teams in the Association and how their pace of play affect the outcome.
Best "Over" Records This Season
Golden State Warriors - "Over/Under" 29-20 (59.2 percent)
The Golden State Warriors sit in first place in the Western Conference with a record of 45-4. They might be one of the trickiest teams to set a total for, considering they constantly put up over 100 (44 times out of 48) and put up more than 110 points 35 times. That's insane. They are definitely changing the way the game is played, and their pace per game is obviously off the charts. The Warriors average 101.9 possessions per game, and they parlay that into an offensive efficiency of 113.2 points per 100 possessions. On the defensive end, the points allowed per 100 is a shade over 99, which is generally why their games sneak right around the total and tend to go over. For example, the Spurs give up 94.7 points allowed per 100, and they sit at a 46.8 percent "over" rate. If you can play solid defense and stay efficient at the offensive end, you tend to stay under the number.
Houston Rockets - 30-21 (58.8 percent)
The Houston Rockets sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with a record of 26-25. They might be one of the biggest enigmas in the NBA as it's hard knowing which team will show up to play. At their very best, they look unstoppable with James Harden and Howard playing like the stars they should be. On off nights, however, they play next to no defense and seem to put the burden of the scoring on Harden's shoulders. Houston has a pace of 99.5 possessions per game, which relates to 104.6 points scored per 100 possessions. To get over the total, however, it takes two to tango, and the Rockets are allowing a staggering 106.3 points per 100 possessions. That is good for third last in the league. It's no wonder they have the best "Over" percentage because they put up points in bunches on one end and take a nap on the defensive end of the floor. Look at the "Over" in their game Feb. 9 against the Golden State Warriors. My guess for the number would be around 215, but I think the Warriors can get 120 on their own.
Denver Nuggets - 27-21-2 (56.2 percent)
The Denver Nuggets sit in 11th place in the Western Conference with a record of 19-31. I was actually struggling to name a current player but was happy to find out my boy Kenneth Farried out of Morehead State is still holding down the frontcourt. It's hard to find any reasonable data to back up their solid "over" record, but I'll give you what the numbers say. Denver has a pace of 97.6 possessions per game and clock in at 101.7 points for per 100 possessions and 105.7 points against per 100. The best spot to play them to the over is on the second of a back-to-back. They sit at 8-3, toppling the total 72.7% of the time. I would chalk this up to lack of defensive presence and the thin mile high air. As a home team this season, they have 15-8-2 record "O/U". Conference games hit the total 57.6 of the time. And since they play in the higher-scoring Western Conference, their record now seems justifiable.
Best "Under" Records This Season
Miami Heat - 32-17-1 (65.3 percent)
The Miami Heat sit in sixth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 28-22.
They have been buoyed by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who have turned back the clock and are helping a very mediocre team (on paper) stay in the playoff race. Miami's totals records are not surprising considering they score 101.6 points and allow 100.2 points per 100 possessions. They also clock in at second-to-last in possessions per game at 94.5. They are slow and methodical with their approach, choosing to run half-court sets instead of the run-and-gun style. Hassan Whiteside has added defensive security to a team that usually lacks an interior presence in the paint. Miami is an "under" play when they are an underdog (12-3-1).
Utah Jazz - 27-20-1 (57.5 percent)
The Utah Jazz sit in ninth place in the Western Conference with a record of 23-25 on the season. The problem with this team is that they have no talent or depth on the bench. They rely too heavily on second-year guard Trey Burke (Michigan) to lead a team with Derrick Favors as their go-to big guy. It's not surprising to see them ranked dead last in possessions per game (93). The Jazz are consistently an underdog, and the best chance underdogs have to stay in the game is to take the air out of the ball and limit the number of possessions the opposing team has. You do that by using all 24 seconds of the shot clock and limiting turnovers. The Jazz have an almost even points for per 100 possessions at 102 and points against per 100 possessions at 103. Given that they play in the Western Conference against the big boys, they use their division games to dictate the pace of play (3-8 "o/u" record).
Dallas Mavericks -29-22-1 (56.9 percent)
The Dallas Mavericks sit in sixth place in the Western Conference with a record of 28-24 on the season. The ever-present Dirk Nowitzki is leading the way for Dallas on what is really a team full of outcasts. They play a slow game that sees them average around 97 possessions a game while breaking even with points for and against per 100 possessions (102.9/102.6). The best time to play the Mavericks total to the "under" is when they are in the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center as a favorite. They are hitting a 75% clip "under" the total at 12-4-1. I would like to play on the "under" in Dallas' next home game against Utah on Feb. 9. This is a great spot for Dallas to capitalize on a weaker team who plays very slow where they can play at a pace they are more accustomed too.
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