The Basics
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betting types

For sports bettors, nothing takes the excitement of watching an NBA game to the next level more than having a wager on the total points scored in the game. Sportsbooks will set a totals line based on their own estimate and bettors have the option to bet either over or under this mark. It’s one of the most thrilling and engaging ways to watch a sporting contest.


While the team that ultimately wins the contest becomes almost irrelevant in the context of your bet, every play carries an extra layer of significance as you either cheer for both teams to score on every possession, or an avalanche of bricked shots and turnovers.


If you don’t have much confidence in the winning chances of either team for your moneyline or spread bet, totals bets are a great way to have an added level of investment in an already exciting NBA contest without being concerned by who goes home with the W.





To understand how this works, let’s take a look at the above example of a game between the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.


The sportsbook is anticipating the total number of of points in the game will be in the vicinity of 216.5 points. For bettors who opt to wager on the over (indicated by the ‘Ov’), there needs to be 217 or more points scored in the game for their bet to win. Conversely, for those betting on the under (indicated by the ‘Un’), there needs to be 216 points or less scored in the game in order for them to collect a winning payout.


The odds for both scenarios are the same at -110, meaning the sportsbook has determined there’s an equal level of probability for both outcomes. As a result of this, a winning $100 bet on either the over or the under would result in a return of $190.91 ($90.91 in profit, plus the original $100 stake back). For a more detailed explanation on how to calculate NBA odds, click here.


Placing a totals bet on NBA is a great choice if you sense the game will be either fast-paced and high-scoring, or slower-paced with hard-nosed, stingy defence. A few of the different factors which might influence this are:



This is probably the biggest factor in determining the total points scored in a a game. Some NBA teams like to play at a high tempo, pushing the ball up the floor at a rapid pace and getting a shot off early in the possession. Teams that play like this tend to score a higher number of points in a game.


In contrast, there are other teams that like to spend more time getting into their offence, running set plays and using up the majority of the 24-second shot clock on each possession. These teams tend to be lower scoring. Some teams are also particularly strong defensively, with the ability to limit the scoring of key players, causing the overall total to be lower.



There is a growing trend in the NBA for teams to shoot more and more three-point attempts. For some teams, it’s not uncommon for the three-point shot to be the focal point of their offence, with plays designed to get shooters open for long-range bombs.


The analytics have shown that teams who shoot (and make) a higher percentage of three-point shots usually have a higher points per passion total, leading to higher scoring games. This is something bettors should investigate before placing a totals bet.



Free throws are one of the top methods of quickly increasing the number of total points scored in a game. This is because they’re a high-percentage method of adding to the score while there’s no time disappearing off the game clock.


Those new to NBA betting will soon notice how quickly the total points can go up in the final minute of a close NBA game when a team deliberately starts fouling the opposing in an effort to stop the clock and work their way into the contest. Therefore, it’s important for totals bettors to consider how often each team usually gets to the foul stripe and how close the game is likely to be before placing their totals bets.


For more helpful clues for placing totals bets and other wagers on NBA, check out our Bet Basics tips and strategies for betting on NBA games.



On December 13, 1983, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime. It was, and remains, the highest-scoring game in NBA history with 370 points in total.


Regardless of whether you’re frantically cheering for both teams to score, or hoping both teams’ offenses are colder than the other side of the pillow, betting on the over or under on an NBA game certainly adds an extra layer of intrigue. If you want even more excitement, be sure cash in on exclusive Bet Basics bonuses and promotions for NBA totals bets! Check out our recommended 100% licensed and regulated legal sportsbooks to get started today.

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