NBA Over and Under Betting Tips: Best Stats to Factor When Wagering Totals
The NBA might be one of the hardest sports to turn a profit in by wagering on the totals. In sports like football, hockey, or even baseball, teams can get lucky and have runs gifted to them by turnovers, own goals, or even errors. However, in basketball, a team can only score and accumulate points themselves. If they are having an off night shooting the basketball, your "over" bet is as good as garbage. Unless of course their opponent picks up the slack and scores around 60 percent of the total - something that very rarely happens. To put that in perspective, 60 percent of 210 is 126. The final score would be 126-84, and those type of blowouts don't happen too often. If you take an "under" and a team finishes the game shooting around 55-60% from the floor, the chances of that game staying "under" the number are very slim.
Which is why for the two reasons I stated above, the NBA is one of the hardest sports to place a totals bet on. However, if you still insist, here are some key statistics you should really look into before risking your hard-earned money. Also, check below on this article for expert tips from Doc’s Sports best NBA handicapping experts for betting pro basketball totals.
Pace of Play
This is probably the most important factor to consider when looking at NBA totals, regardless of if you are favoring the "over" or "under". The pace of play is a tool used by handicappers to determine an approximate number of possessions a team has per game. The thought process behind this being that the more possessions a team has per game, the quicker the game and the more opportunities each team has to score. For the math wizards out there, this will make sense to you. However, for those lacking in the math category, there is a statistical formula that is used to determine a team's pace of play.
The formula is: ((Tm Poss +Opp Poss) / 2 * (Tm MP/5)).
The first part of the formula is the simple part. It takes the number of possessions team A has and adds them to the number of possessions for Team B. The second part of the equation is the total team minutes played divided by five since there are five players on the court for each team.
For example - (99 + 93 ) / 2 * (240/5) = 79.50 possessions. This means that over the course of that specific game, Team A would have had 96 possessions. As each game passes and the formula gets used, the average number of possessions a team has per game will either increase or decrease.
Why is this important to betting NBA totals? Well, think of it this way, the more possessions a team has, the more chances they have to score and accumulate points. The more possessions a team has, the more possessions they give their opponent as well. And vice-versa for the other side. The fewer amount of possessions a team averages per game, the fewer chances to score, thus likely playing to the "under".
Defensive Rating / Offensive Rating
"Defensive rating" is essentially "points allowed" but in a more detailed and complex way. The reality of the matter is that every team goes through high points and low points throughout a grueling 82-game schedule. The highs are generally buoyed by great offensive performances and by playing shut-down defense while the low times are poor performances on both sides of the ball. The "points allowed" category considers the entire body of work, regardless of a certain spot a team is in - think third game in four nights. The averages rise and drop with each game. Defensive rating is the next step beyond "points allowed".
When you hear someone talking about defensive rating, they are referring to the number of points allowed per 100 possessions. This concept correlates to betting NBA totals because if a team has a defensive rating of 110.6, that means they are giving up 110.6 points per 100 possessions. That in turn means the game should very likely go over the posted total. If a team has a defensive rating of anything between 100-103, there is a pretty good chance they are one of the best defensive teams in the league and tend to play to the "under".
Now, using the stats as the sole reason you place an NBA totals wager is foolish. You must take into consideration a plethora of other things including a team's offensive rating.
This is other side of the coin in terms of team ratings. Offensive ratings tell you how many points a team averages per 100 possessions. Not every team in the league averages 100 possessions per game (as indicated by the pace of play formula), so using this statistic on its own to blindly bet totals would be a foolish move.
And lastly, I know the title says which "stats" to focus on when betting NBA totals, and scheduling quirks isn't exactly a statistic, but it's an important piece to the puzzle. While you may watch sports on a nightly basis and yell at your TV when a player misses a shot, it's vital to keep in mind that these professional athletes are humans too. They too can get distracted with the hoopla that comes with being a pro athlete/celebrity, and they can also get tired. They are on the road plenty of the course of an 82-game season, and when they are gearing up for their third game in four nights, or fifth road game in their fifth different city on a seven-game road trip, sometimes, they just may not be feeling 100 percent.
Think about how tired you would be if you had to give it your all for 48 minutes one night, travel overnight then gear up for another game just 18 hours later. You'd be exhausted, and you probably wouldn't have any energy in your legs to make the shots you usually knock down. I get the fact that these are professional athletes and have the world of support around them, but many of them are rhythm players, and when they aren't feeling it the shots just don't drop.
It's important to look at the schedule and see where a team has been or how they've been performing prior to the game you plan on betting.
“I always look for teams that face inflated, or public, totals on a nightly basis. A good example of this is the Golden State Warriors, who have been a very good “Under” team the last couple years (before the injuries hit this team hard). Golden State was above and beyond the best offensive team in the NBA. And they played a very fast-paced game. But they were also a team full of athletes and a very good defensive team. That might have not always shown on the scoreboard, mainly because the pace benefited both offenses, but they were good at getting stops when they needed to, and the oddsmakers would inflate the totals on a nightly basis since the general betting public would only concentrate on the “Over” in games involving the Warriors. And the numbers were so high, a slight cold shooting streak by one or both of the teams would create a situation where the final result would come in way under the posted number.” – Doc’s Sports
“I have always believed that if a team is out of the playoffs, they have a tendency to get up for the best teams in the league. It's human nature. Think about it: if you are a terrible team, wouldn’t you get up for a game against the best team in the league? And, would the best team in the league not try to overlook you, not play as hard and rest a little bit in the grind of a season? Of course. So, always keep an eye on the best team facing the worst team in the league and you can use the IC Active Underdog Theory. which is essentially the underdog shows up, is an active dog. and pushes the total over. “ – Arun Shiva
“Pace of play is always going to be one of, if not the most significant factors when it comes to totals. But motivation makes a difference too. If a team is more motivated, for whatever reason, they are going to be more likely to get out and run and push the tempo. This is especially true if a team is playing in front of its home crowd because they are more likely to use that energy and put it into their transition game.” -- Nolan Sinclair, Strike Point Sports
“Basketball players are always going to have energy on the offensive end. But when teams and players get tired, you can expect it to impact them more on the defensive end, and that should mean higher point totals.“ -- Robert Ferringo
“I look to bet ‘over’ on teams at the end of long road trips or teams that have had to play three games in four days. Tired teams are easy to expose on the defensive end because playing team defense requires focus, effort and teamwork. If one or two guys are dragging a bit on defense, it affects the whole team and they are going to get roasted.” -- Robert Ferringo
“Offensive and defensive ratings are important. But know that motivation and line value are even more important. Consider when a team loses a star player to injury. Generally, the oddsmakers and the public overreact on the total. What they forget is that teammates tend to step their effort level up when they lose a star player and that generally leads to a short-term bump in teams going ‘over’.” -- Robert Ferringo
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