In the world of NBA bets, over/under wagers are immensely popular. With so many possessions taking place in each game, every one of them has an impact on the outcome of these bets. And unlike NBA point spread bets, it doesn’t even matter who wins the game. NBA totals are available in every game, from the preseason through the awarding of the NBA championship. In this guide to NBA over/under betting, find out everything you need to know about placing over/under wagers in the National Basketball Association.
The goal of NBA over/under betting is to determine whether the number of points scored in a game will go over or under the total set by the oddsmakers for NBA games. This market can be applied to just one team or to the combined score of both teams, depending on the preferences of a bettor.
The best part of the NBA totals market is the fact that it doesn’t matter what the result of the game is. Unlike the point-spread and moneyline markets, the favorite or underdog can win the game in question by as many points as they would like. As long as the number of points scored by one or both teams stays above or below the amount wagered on by a bettor, the result of the matchup is completely irrelevant.
Of course, there are correlations between some game outcomes and the result of totals bets. Teams that win their games have a better chance of reaching their team totals than teams that lose, by the simple fact that the winning team scored more points. But the result of the game is not tied into whether or not a total bet wins or loses, even if it can be a plus sometimes.
In this example of an NBA over/under bet, let’s say that the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors are facing off in an Eastern Conference contest. The total for the game is 215, with the odds for both the over and under sitting at -110. That negative number on the odds means that bettors would have to risk $110 to win $100 on either side of their totals wager on this example game.
In the game itself, there are three possible results. The combined points for both teams being 214 or less would result in the under winning. Exactly 215 points between both teams would yield a push, with a bettor getting their money back. And 216 or more points would result in the over being the winning bet.
In this example, let’s say that the game ended 111-110 in favor of the Raptors. The outcome of the game is not important here. What is important is that there were 221 combined points scored in the game. That would go over the 215 threshold and make anyone who bet the over victorious.
NBA odds move throughout the time leading up to games. Each bookmaker, such as DraftKings or FanDuel Sportsbook, moves their lines based on bets placed after their initial lines go up. It is the job of handicappers to determine where there is value in the totals market, and to make the best possible wagers before the market is adjusted. For those who would prefer to wait for others to find that value, many bettors post free NBA picks on the internet for public consumption.
Other reasons that NBA totals might move before the start of games are injuries and players sitting out to rest. If a team’s best player misses a game due to rest or injury, it is going to make it more difficult for that team to score points consistently. Conversely, if a key defensive player for one team is out, that could make it easier for their opponent to score.
The most important piece of advice to keep in mind when betting on NBA totals is to understand the matchups between two teams. Games between two opponents with good defenses may be more likely to go under, while games between stronger offensive teams could go over more frequently. Beyond just understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both teams, it is vital to understand how those strengths and weaknesses will interact once on the floor.
And the second most important piece of advice to keep in mind is to always bet responsibly on NBA totals. Bankroll management is key, especially in a market where there is a lot of variance based on which teams are making shots in a given day. There are resources available for those who may be dealing with a gambling problem, as bettors should make sure that they are managing their money wisely at all times.
Online sportsbooks or land-based sportsbooks are available in many states to help bettors place their totals wagers. What kinds of sportsbooks are available depends on the rules in accordance with each state. But for states that do have legal sports betting, bettors can use those sportsbooks to place totals bets, bet on moneylines, prop bets and more.