The NBA is up and running and there are trends we should all be paying attention to. This does not mean they will last all season, heck, they might not even make to Election Day in the United States. Nevertheless, every professional basketball bettor should be tapped in these trends and at least give them consideration.
A Preponderance Of Over's To Start The Season
Even the most casual of NBA fans who see the ESPN highlights or look at the scores on their phone realize scoring is up again this year in the Association. This has also had an effect on sports betting on totals to start the 2018-19 season.
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When the NHL began doling out penalties and changed a few other rules to create a more open skating game which emphasized speed, everyone assumed scoring would be up. Oddsmakers jumped on the early and within days their numbers were as sharp as Cutlery knives. One big difference with hockey compared to the NBA, most of the games just had to be moved to 5.5 or 6 to cover the majority of games played.
In the NBA, we have seen lines moves of 3 to 5 points on totals once the public got a hold of them. This does not mean the Joe Average was smarter than an oddsmaker, however, they have held their own against those setting the lines.
For sportsbooks, it is the worst case scenario, relatively speaking, because here are the results.
OVER's - 43 UNDER's - 29 (thru 10/26)
It is common knowledge that the majority of bettors prefer OVER's if for no other reason they like scoring or are fantasy leagues that require certain players to score.
While this is partly true, there is another element sportsbooks do not like thus far. For most recreational bettors, they do not look at basketball until after the college football regular season is over or when there are five games on Christmas Day.
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Thus, a good chunk of smarter than average bettors are betting the NBA and they have a more advanced skill set and they are winning fairly consistent.
Why then are we seeing scoring climb higher and higher? Is the defense worse? Is three-point shooting better than ever?
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Is three-point making that big a difference? Yes, but not a massive impact. We don't have an apples to apples comparison, but the Top 20 teams in 3's made this season compared to the entire past year is up approximately 0.4 to 1.0 more three-pointer made per game. This would account for 4 to 4.5 points more per game involving those teams and less than that for the bottom 10 who are less proficient.
While the scores are higher don't blame the defense. A look the field goal percentage defense league-wide is right about 46 percent, same as it was last year. So where are the points coming from? Shot attempts.
2018-2019 Scores&Stats NBA Betting Power Rankings: Week 1
Last Chicago led the NBA with 88.8 shot attempts per game. In the last one-third of the season a year ago, you saw several teams starting to play at an extremely fast pace. The thinking was to not let the defense set up and by playing this fast, you find more open floor shot either from deep or at the rim for layups.
At this time, there are 21 NBA teams averaging more shots than the Bulls did, with the Pistons and Lakers at over 100 shots jacked. If teams are taking about eight more shots a game an connecting on three or four of them, that is a minimum of six to eight more points per team.
At this time we have no way of knowing if this pace will get up, but it certainly explains what is happening and oddsmakers are trying to adjust on the run.