It was a strange week in the NBA amid the league-wide COVID-19 outbreak that has led to multiple cancelled games and countless players forced out due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
As we enter into the week of Christmas, here is the fifth weekly installment of this column where I feature a week-to-week market update of how overs and unders are playing out across the NBA.
With so many games canceled and the unpredictable nature, continue to proceed with caution when betting these games and watch closely for injury and COVID news.
The Charlotte Hornets and the Houston Rockets, whom I both featured a couple of weeks ago as a team to target for overs, continued their streak. Both of those teams’ respective games this past week went 3-1 to the over.
Here is the weekly market update through Week 9 (week ending Dec. 19).
Key Totals Trends to Watch
- Overs went 28-20 (58.3%) in Week 9, which continues the feverish pace of overs that began in Week 6. This brings the season-to-date over/under record to 211-236-4 (47.2%) as it continues to inch closer to 50%.
- We see a sharp increase in average points scored per game to 220.4 in Week 9 vs. the average closing total of 216.7 in Week 9. This is the highest-scoring week of this season. This brings the season-to-date average up to 215.8.
- As mentioned last couple of weeks, the totals market had become more efficient, closing the gap the market totals the actual points scored. However, in Week 9, we saw points scored and offensive metrics continue to increase as it had been trending the previous four weeks, which led to a successful week for overs.
- Fouls and free throw attempts continue to go up. In the past two weeks, the weekly averages have exceeded the season averages. It appears the officials are not swallowing their whistles as much as they did earlier in the season.
- Two teams that have been leading this charge of overs are the Denver Nuggets (15-2 to the over in last 17 games) and the Charlotte Hornets (10-1-1 to the over in last 12 games). Both teams are hitting overs at 60%-plus rate this season.
Teams with highest scoring games (220 and above)
- Hornets: Avg: 115.3 | Opp Avg: 117.3 | Total: 232.6
- Kings: Avg: 111.3 | Opp Avg: 114.4 | Total: 225.7
- Lakers: Avg: 110.5 | Opp Avg: 111.3 | Total: 221.8
- Hawks: Avg: 111.5 | Opp Avg: 110.0 | Total: 221.5
- Jazz: Avg: 115.6 | Opp Avg: 105.1 | Total: 220.7
- Spurs: Avg: 109.6 | Opp Avg: 110.4 | Total: 220.0
Teams with lowest scoring games (209 and below)
- Thunder: Avg: 99.1 | Opp Avg: 108.1 | Total: 207.2
- Cavaliers: Avg: 107.0 | Opp Avg: 101.1 | Total: 208.1
- Mavericks: Avg: 104.4 | Opp Avg: 104.8 | Total: 209.2
- Pistons: Avg: 100.4 | Opp Avg: 109.4 | Total: 209.8
Best Over Teams
- Hornets: 20-11-1 (64.5%)
- Nuggets: 18-11 (62.1%)
- Heat: 17-13-1 (57.7%)
- Spurs: 16-12-1 (57.1%)
Best Under Teams
Recent Under Trends
- Mavericks: 8-1 to the under in last nine games
- Lakers: 8-2 to the under in last 10 games
- Cavaliers: 5-1 to the under in last six games
- Bucks: 4-1 to the under in last five games
Recent Over Trends
- Nuggets: 15-2 to the over in last 17 games
- Hornets: 10-1-1 to the over in last 12 games
- Jazz: 11-3-1 to the over in last 15 games
- Timberwolves: 10-3 to the over in last 13 games
- Rockets: 10-3 to the over in last 13 games
Matchups in the Totals Spotlight
With all the uncertainty I’m specifically targeting two games I think have value based on trends. It should be noted that things could change at any point throughout the week so keep an eye on FantasyLabs newsfeed for realtime updates.
Monday, Dec. 20 — Charlotte Hornets vs. Utah Jazz: Over 236.5
The league’s two best offenses face off tonight. The total of 236.5 for this game is currently the highest total of the season and for good reason, too. As indicated above, overs on Hornets’ games have been automatic.
They are 10-1-1 to the over in their last 12 games with an average score of 246.5 points per game. During this timeframe, they are No. 2 in Offensive Rating (120.4), No. 30 in Defensive Rating (124.6), per NBA Advanced Stats.
LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier have recently returned to the lineup after missing numerous games due to health and safety protocols.
They will be facing the Utah Jazz, who are ranked first in Offensive Rating (117.2) in the league by a huge margin. Comparatively speaking, the No. 2 Hornets are at 113.2, a full four points lower per 100 possessions.
They are 11-3-1 to the over in their last 15 games and have averaged 119.9 points per game during this time. This will potentially be higher against the awful Hornets; defense. Donovan Mitchell has been incredible as of late and the Jazz should be looking to bounce back after two losses in a row.
Expect fireworks tonight. The total has been bet up from the opening total of 234 and continues to rise — 237 will be the limit I am willing to push to for a play on the over. Jazz Team Totals (currently 124 at PointsBet) are also a good look.
Wednesday, Dec. 22 — Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Over (up to 219)
Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets have been on an insane streak of overs. They are 15-2 to the over in their last 17 games.
The Nuggets started off the season really struggling to score and established themselves as one of the league’s slowest-paced and lowest-scoring teams. Michael Porter Jr. was dealing with back injuries and never found his rhythm in the team’s offense. Things have really turned around since then. Monte Morris and Will Barton have settled in their roles in the starting backcourt extremely well.
At the beginning of this run, the Nuggets went small with their starting lineup with Jeff Green joining Aaron Gordon and Jokic in the frontcourt. They have played faster as of late and are fifth in Pace in their previous five games. They are also fifth in Offensive Rating and 25th in Defensive Rating during this same timeframe.
The Nuggets will face the Thunder on Wednesday night. The Thunder have seen their Defensive Rating regress for three consecutive weeks now. Their offense has marginally improved over the last few weeks with Shai-Gilgeous Alexander healthy and Luguentz Dort really coming into his own as a scorer. In addition, they don’t have the tools to stop Jokic, who has been a one-man wrecking crew.
With Denver’s recent streak to the over, I am looking to keep riding the wave. I think market perception could potentially shade this total too low. They have continued to underestimate the Nuggets’ totals with Jamal Murray and Porter Jr. out of the line-up. I would be interested in the over in this game if it is at 219 or below.