Are Sportsbooks Keeping Up With Increasing NBA Totals?

Are Sportsbooks Keeping Up With Increasing NBA Totals?

The NBA has seen a big increase in totals closing above 200 points over the last few years, but are sportsbooks keeping pace with this trend? First, let’s look at the % of games with a closing Over/Under of at least 200 points (closing lines via Pinnacle):

2016-17 = 84.5%
2015-16 = 72.5%
2014-15 = 49.6%
2013-14 = 54.3%
2012-13 = 30.1%

As you can clearly see, closing totals are on the rise. Just five seasons ago we saw less than 1/3 of games closing at 200 points or higher. Fast forward to this season, and nearly 85% of games close with a total of 200 points or higher. So we know that closing totals have been higher, but can bettors actually capitalize on the higher scoring? Here’s how betting on the OVER has done in the last five seasons for totals above 200 points:

2016-17 = 350-318, +14.27 u
2015-16 = 430-451, -41.63 u
2014-15 = 280-322, -54.23 u
2013-14 = 333-322, -4.18 u
2012-13 = 184-188, -12.33 u

Right off the bat you can see that betting OVERS for high totals has been a losing proposition except for this year (so far at least). In the 2013-14 season, books adjusted their totals and set more than half of them with a total above 200. That proved to be correct, as Overs went 333-322 for -4.18 units when factoring in the juice. So, betting on the Over or Under that season was negligible.

The 2014-15 season is where things got really interesting– sportsbooks actually set fewer totals above 200 points than the previous season, but UNDER bettors were still able to capitalize going 322-280 in those high total games.

After books were hit by UNDERS in 2014-15, would they continue to set high totals, or scale back? In the 2015-16 season, 72.5% of games closed with a total above 200 points, so we saw a huge increase again. This wasn’t ideal for books since the UNDER went 451-430, but the sheer volume of games put a big dent in the UNDER winnings.

Fast forward to this season and books have made no secret about high totals. Nearly 85% of all NBA games this season has closed with a total above 200 points and surprisingly the OVER has a winning record at 350-318 in those games. This is even more surprising considering high-scoring teams like Golden State have actually been great for UNDERS.

As books continue to keep their totals high for the rest of the 2016-17 season, bettors may be able to find additional value on the UNDER like in previous seasons. Although the OVER has been profitable for high totals this season, we’d expect to see a dip after the All-Star Break.

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Do you agree that we’ll see more UNDERS after the All-Star Break for these high closing totals? Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts in the space below.

Dan McGuire

Dan McGuire is the Operations Manager and soccer specialist at Sports Insights. You can find him on Twitter (@ArsenalDMC) and he can be reached directly at dan.mcguire@actionnetwork.com.

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