This is the third 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.
Last week, I featured two teams that I thought could be trending towards more overs: the Charlotte Hornets and the Houston Rockets. The over hit in all three of the Hornets games last week by an average of 26.8 points. The Rockets went 3-1 to the over as their offense has continued to click during this six-game win streak. This week we’ve got two teams who I expect will be headed in opposite directions.
But first, here is a look at the market report through Week 7 (week ending Sunday Dec. 5):
Key Trends to Watch
- Regression to the mean? Overs outpaced unders for the second week in a row, going 27-20-1 (57.4%) to the over in Week 7. This brings the season-to-date over/under record to 160-191 (45.6%) as it continues to inch closer to 50%.
- Average points scored per game was 217.6 in Week 7. This brings the season-to-date average up to 215.0.
- The gap is closing between the market totals and actual points scored. Week 7’s average closing total was exactly 215, making it consistent with average points scored per game this season.
- Overall Offensive Efficiency has increased for the third consecutive week. Assists have been increasing and Turnovers have been decreasing. Also, 3-point percentage was 36.4% in Week 7, the highest it has been all season. Teams may be shaking the rust off and getting more accustomed to the new rules.
- Fouls and Free Throw Attempts in Week 7 were still above the season average. It appears the officials are not swallowing their whistles as much as they did earlier in the season.
Teams with highest scoring games (220 and above)
- Hornets: Avg: 115.5 | Opp Avg: 115.8 | Total: 231.3
- Lakers: Avg: 111.7 | Opp Avg: 113.4 | Total: 225.1
- Grizzlies: Avg: 111.3 | Opp Avg: 111.8 | Total: 223.1
- Kings: Avg: 109.8 | Opp Avg: 112.8 | Total: 222.6
- Trail Blazers: Avg: 109.5 | Opp Avg: 111.7 | Total: 221.2
Teams with lowest scoring games (208 and below)
- Thunder: Avg: 98.1 | Opp Avg: 108.2 | Total: 206.4
- Cavaliers: Avg: 104.6 | Opp Avg: 102.0 | Total: 206.6
- Pistons: Avg: 98.9 | Opp Avg: 108.5 | Total: 207.4
- Nuggets: Avg: 104.0 | Opp Avg: 103.9 | Total: 207.9
Best Over Teams
- Heat: 15-9 (62.5%)
- Grizzlies: 14-9 (60.9%)
- Hornets: 15-10 (60.0%)
- Lakers: 14-10 (58.3%)
Best Under Teams
- Warriors: 6-16-1 (27.3%)
- 76ers: 8-15 (34.8%)
- Mavericks: 8-14 (36.4%)
- Thunder: 8-14 (36.4%)
Recent Under Trends
- Warriors: 9-2-1 to the under in last 12
- 76ers: 7-2 to the under in last nine
- Pistons: 5-1 to the under in last six
- Raptors: 4-0 to the under in last four
Recent Over Trends
- Pacers: 5-1 to the over in last six
- Nuggets: 9-1 to the over last 10 (seven straight overs)
- Jazz: 8-1 to the over in last nine
- Hornets: 5-0 to the over in last five
- Heat: 5-1 to the over in last six
Teams in the Totals Spotlight
Unders: Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have taken on multiple identities this season. They started off the season with a defense-first attitude and had one of the league’s most feared defenses. After a couple of weeks, it all changed.
In the seven games during the month of October, the Raptors had the seventh-best Defensive Rating (101.6) in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats. However, in November, the Raptors had the league’s *worst* Defensive Rating (114.0). The absence of O.G. Anunoby hurt their overall defense. Pascal Siakam’s return to the starting lineup may have helped their offense, but he’s not known to be a strong defender.
It appears the Raptors are addressing and correcting these defense deficiencies over the last few games. This past week, all three of their games went under the total and they held their opponents to an average of 93.7 points per game.
Their offense still hasn’t looked great. They scored 102 points on Sunday, but didn’t break 100 points in four consecutive games prior to that. Outside of Fred VanVleet and Siakam, there are not many consistent scoring options in their line-up. Rookie Scottie Barnes has been a really nice two-player, but he is still inconsistent on offense.
The Raptors continue to play at one of the slowest paces in the NBA and I think with their re-commitment to defense, they will continue to see low-scoring games in the near future and continue this trend of unders.
They have a small two-game slate this week against the Orlando Magic and division-rivals New York Knicks. Both games look to be favorable for potential low-scoring games. The Magic have a terrible offense and the Knicks are an Atlantic Division rival that also plays at a slow pace.
Overs: Miami Heat
Similar to the Raptors, the Heat set the tone early in the season with their stifling defense and grind-it-out style of play. They started off the season 4-1 to the under, but have since then gone 14-5 the over.
The market continues to expect low-scoring games and have priced their totals as such. The Heat have the second-lowest average closing total in the NBA, a smidge higher than the Detroit Pistons.
However, Bam Adebayo will be out for four-to-six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right thumb. He is the backbone of this Miami defense and the On/Off numbers show that the Heat Defensive Rating worsens from 105.2 to 111.1 when he is out of the lineup, per Basketball Reference.
In addition, Jimmy Butler is listed as day-to-day and has been dealing with his own injuries. He has missed seven games this season and is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Grizzlies.
With Adebayo, and potentially Butler out, expect the Heat defense to suffer and to see more doses of Tyler Herro, which will give the Heat a boost in offense and quicken the pace. Herro is having a career season averaging 21.2 points per game and is currently the heavy favorite for the Sixth Man of the Year.
The Heat are facing the Grizzlies, Bucks and Bulls this week. All three feature fast-paced, high-octane offenses that can succeed against an injury-riddled Heat defense. Full game overs or opponent team total overs could potentially be a good look, especially if Butler continues to sit.
Note:Teams and totals featured in this section should not be blindly bet on. Based on a number of key factors and my perception of the market, I think that these teams will have a tendency to have low or high-scoring games for the upcoming week. However, circumstances can change with injuries, rest, lineup changes and most importantly, the market total.