Bettors who went with the Over the first five days of the NBA restart made out quite well as a series of Overs hit – at one point there were nine in a row of them. Now five days into the NBA’s continued season – Monday brought some normalcy with an even mix of Overs and Unders – three apiece. The Over, though, has hit 14 times in total so far compared to 11 for the Under, this coming after conventional wisdom suggested that in the early-going teams would be slow to adjust to the “bubble” offensively.
“Sharp bettors are not always really watching the games. But the public watches and wants high-scoring games, and that has been affected in the action we have seen,” said Andrew Mannino, the senior sports content analyst for PointsBet.
Some examples: The Miami Heat – Denver Nuggets total this past Saturday went from opening at 217.5 to 210.5, but the teams combined to score 230 points when the game was completed. A day earlier, the Mavericks and Rockets combined for 302 points in a game that had an over/under of 226.5.
Bettors pounded the Unders even harder after the first night of the restart when the Jazz-Pelicans and Lakers-Clippers games both finished significantly Under. But in subsequent games, referees have been blowing their whistles at an ungodly pace, leading to an extraordinary number of free throws that have helped Overs hit with greater regularity.
On Monday, for example, the Nuggets and Thunder combined to shoot 70 free throws in a game that finished 14.5 points above the Over/Under line, and the Lakers and Jazz shot 56 attempts from the charity stripe in another game that went Over. The thrilling San Antonio-Philadelphia game featured 59 free throws and went Over.
Looking for scoring trends in the NBA restart
It bears mentioning that the Spurs have hit the Over more times than any NBA team this season – 41. Next up are the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat with 40 apiece. The team that goes Over the least is the high-scoring Houston Rockets, who have done it only 28 times. Of note, Houston’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night produced a total of 236, eight beneath the over/under of 244.
“Customers have been backing the Under,” said Kevin Hennessy, a spokesman for FanDuel Sportsbook. “It’s fair to say that we have seen an increase in volume on the Unders, especially in the early NBA games. The NBA created a competitive environment with fan screens and arena music/noise that have has provided a sense of normalcy for the players to perform, and that’s why we are seeing Overs clicking.”
Sportsbooks and bettors starting to adjust
For upcoming games this week, the Over/Unders have not moved significantly. That may mean that the sharps are laying off, or that the lines are now sitting where they should be thanks to a body of work of five days for the oddsmakers to have considered.
The highest line Tuesday is for Dallas – Sacramento (237), and the lowest is for Orlando – Indiana at 225.5 — up from the opening line of 223.
The NBA’s Tuesday slate is not exactly filled with interesting action in terms of matchups, and it is notable that the Nets – Bucks line opened at 17.5 and has gone to 19. Weren’t these games supposed to include competitive teams, Mr. Silver?
Whatever the case, keep in mind that it is not always sharp to be sharp. As Mannino mentioned, the fans vote with their wagers the way fans always vote: in favor of the best action.
The NBA has been providing that more so than any other restarted sport (apologies, Bryson DeChambeau), and that is a victory for basketball – and those who gamble on it wisely.