Tips for Betting NBA Totals
The NBA remains one of the most popular leagues for anyone who loves to bet on sports. However, records have shown that much of the action the NBA generates with the sportsbooks remains on the betting line or spread for the games. If you are not including wagers on the "over/under" which is also referred to as the total line as part of your overall NBA betting strategy, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to build your bankroll.
The basic starting point for handicapping any matchup for a play on the total line has to start with each team's scoring potential as well as the average amount of points they allow on the other end of the court. Certain teams in the NBA are notorious for scoring a ton of points a night, but they are also near the top of the list when it comes to average points allowed.
Looking back at the scoring results for the 2013/2014 regular season the Los Angeles Clippers led the league in scoring with an average of 107.9 points per game, but they also allowed an average of 101.0 PPG. While the Oddsmakers would have obviously adjusted their total lines based on these averages, the total still went OVER in 44 of their 82 games, which is almost 54 percent of the time.
The results were even more dramatic for the Chicago Bulls on the UNDER line. The total stayed UNDER in 48 of 82 games (59 percent) after they led the NBA in fewest points allowed (91.8) while ranking last in scoring with 93.7 PPG. No matter how low the Oddsmakers set the total line in Bulls' games the majority of them still stayed UNDER.
Season scoring averages are good for painting the overall picture, but drilling down to a team's current form will give you much better insight for trying to predict future results. Even the worst teams in the league will go through cycles where they are scoring more than their average while playing much better on the defensive end. Betting trends tend to come and go as the season grinds on, but by paying close attention to a team's current playing form can lead to a profitable run on the total line that last several games.
There are certain statistics that are important to handicapping the total line beyond points scored and points allowed. The first two are offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency, which measures how many points a team scores (offense) or allows (defense) per 100 possessions. These stats go hand-in-hand with the measure of a team's overall pace, which is a formula that calculates how many possessions a team averages a game. Together, a team's offensive efficiency and its pace can often times be a good predictor of how many points it may score in comparison to their opponent's defensive efficiency.
There are a number of other factors that go into handicapping NBA totals including pertinent injuries, a team's fatigue level and its overall motivation. Injuries can play a huge role in how a team's coach will approach a game. If a team's top scorer is out of the lineup, a coach may try and fill the void with a change in defensive strategy, which would work to keep the scoring low. He could also go in a whole other direction by trying and fill the void with bench players that have an opportunity to light it up.
Fatigue will come into play during an extended road trip or by playing multiple games in a short amount of time. Once you get into the second half of the regular season, you have to be aware of teams tanking games through a lack of effort on defense. This can lead to some high-scoring blowouts in a mismatch.
The final tip when handicapping NBA totals is to create a complete profile of a team in terms of everything covered above for when they are playing at home and playing on the road. For some NBA teams the difference could be night and day, which in turn, will have a dramatic impact on scoring depending on where the game is played.