Bettors Hammering ‘Overs’ As Quality Of NBA Basketball Declines

Written By Chris Sheridan on December 30, 2020

Charles Barkley called it the worst doubleheader in the history of TNT, and he may have been correct. The Milwaukee-Miami game on Tuesday night was unwatchable for anyone who did not have a block of cheese on their head, and the Pelicans-Suns game was decided by 25 points and was so non-competitive that TNT cut to Kings-Nuggets.

Gamblers in the legalized U.S. sports gambling marketplace are taking notice of the poor quality of play early in the NBA season, and for better or worse they are hammering the “over” bets on a nightly basis.

According to PointsBet spokesman Patrick Eichner, nine of the 10 NBA games played Tuesday night had significant heavy action on the over, including “lopsided action” (at least 87 percent of the handle) on the over in the Golden State-Detroit, Toronto-Philadelphia, Chicago-Washington, Milwaukee-Miami, Orlando-Oklahoma City and Denver-Sacramento games.

The Clippers-Timberwolves had lopsided action on the “under” of 226 (88 percent of the handle), and the under hit by 1 point as the Clippers won 124-101.

Overall, the “under” hit in six games and the “over” hit in only four games, which made it a good night for the books. Still, gamblers are noticing the same thing that Barkley noticed: The players are not taking these games as seriously as they took the NBA bubble games, when something was at stake every single day and night, and are mailing it in when it comes to giving 100 percent effort.

Barkley singled out Russell Westbrook for taking a “rest” night off for the Wizards, who have not won yet, and he held back naming a certain player who sat out one night of a back-to-back home game set. He may have been referring to Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, who did not play Sunday in an overtime loss to the Grizzlies that dropped Brooklyn to 2-2 after a very strong start.

The “over” was 3-2 on Monday and 3-5 on Sunday, which flies in the face of what gamblers are playing.

“Last night, the over received a majority of bets in all but one game. This isn’t unusual as the public tends to bet on the over and cheer for points,” said John Ewing, a spokesman for BetMGM.

Although the public is betting the “unders,” the so-called sharp bettors are not.

Johnny Avello, heads oddsmaker at DraftKings, said his company tracks “sharp” bettors and has figured out that unless there is a trend, such as a certain set of referees having a proclivity to call high-scoring games, there is no scientific way to track what sharp bettors are going to play.

“You are never going to get a pattern out of them,” Avello said. “It is not a consistent thing from the sharps, but the unsophisticated bettors always go “over.”

Avello pointed out that a significant number of early NBA bubble games went over, but the pattern leveled off after a couple of weeks – something he expects to repeat itself as this young NBA season moves forward.

The NBA season is only a week old, and the biggest surprise aside from the unlikely unbeatens is that very strange things are happening on a daily basis. On Sunday, we had the biggest halftime deficit in league history. On Tuesday, the Bucks made more 3-pointers than any team ever had.

So it’s a fair bet that tonight will bring high drama, one way or another. And a week from now, we’ll have a body of evidence that will help make every thoughtful gambler that much close to being a “sharp.”

Stay tuned.

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