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Speculation vs Reality: Assessing NBA Preseason Win Totals

Some of the best wagers you can place are those that take time to come to fruition. If they go sour, you have time to reason with your fate and make sense of the loss. If they go well, you have more time to feel good about the choice you made.


Speculation vs Reality: Assessing NBA Preseason Win Totals
Ayo Dosunmu #12 of the Chicago Bulls | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

Such is the case with preseason over/under win totals, some of which we speculated on before the NBA season began. With a couple of weeks left in the regular season, some of these sportsbook offerings are coming down to the wire. Here are a few based on over/under betting lines a day before the season started:

1. Chicago Bulls 37½

If you were told during preseason that Zach LaVine would miss almost all of the regular season, you might’ve shied away from the over here. Similarly, if you were told they’d start 5-14, you’d rule it out completely.

Yet, backed by strong seasons from DeMar DeRozan and Coby White, the Bulls are making a run at this one. They have 34 wins entering a home game with Indiana on Wednesday. Three straight losses have made those who backed the over a bit nervous, but there are still opportunities for four more victories, which would make for a winning bet online. Chicago still has Detroit, Washington, Brooklyn, and Atlanta on the schedule.

Three of those are on the road, though, so this is truly one that could come down to the wire. Fortunately for any over bettors, the Bulls still have something to play for. They’re just about locked into the 9 vs 10 Play-In game with Atlanta, but only lead the Hawks by 1½ games for home court in that do-or-die affair.

If it comes down to it, Chicago plays at New York in the regular season finale. It’s quite possible the Knicks will have something to play for in that one.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers 50½

If you took the over on this one, you’ve gone through some ups and downs. Cursing the Cavs in November and early December as they hovered around .500, loving them up when they won 22 of 26 and lately staring at a lengthy injury report that has been the primary cause of a recent swoon.

Cleveland was 35-16 at one point, needing to go just 16-15 to get to the over. It’s now a tough hill to climb, as they need seven victories in the final 10 games to get there. A five-game road trip is part of that stretch run, with games at Denver and two in LA, so that makes it even harder.

If by some chance the Cavaliers steal a few on that trip and go into their final three-game homestand needing two or three to reach 51, there could be some drama. They close with Memphis, Indiana, and Charlotte. And Cleveland will probably still have some seeding to strive for.

3. Los Angeles Lakers 47½

This is a big number at this point, as the Lakers need to win eight of their last 10 to get to 48. But don’t count them out. They’re riding a four-game winning streak entering Wednesday’s game at Memphis and are 16-7 over the last 23 games.

Not likely, but still possible. Those of you who took the under when betting online could be cashing in real soon.

4. Miami Heat 45½

Who knows with this team? The second you count them out, they’ll reel off three straight wins with a starting lineup featuring your uncle, your mechanic, and an assistant coach. Then they’ll trot out a full, loaded lineup and blow an 18-point lead in a bad loss at home.

They need to get seven wins in the last 10 games to reach the over. Based on the schedule, it’s doable. Their next two games are vs. Portland and at Washington, and they close with back-to-back home games against Toronto. There are also games against Indiana and Philadelphia, two teams Miami is fighting to gain a top-six seed and avoid a Play-In game. It stands to reason they’ll go all out in those contests and if they sweep those “winnable” games, it’ll be tight.

5. Milwaukee Bucks 53½

Based on all the buzz surrounding this team during the preseason, this might’ve seemed like a small number. Alas, the Bucks have been hurting those picking against the NBA spreads all season, going 32-40 to this point.

If you had the over, you were feeling good about win No. 47 (seven shy of what you need to hit paydirt) on Tuesday against the Lakers. Milwaukee led by 19 well into the fourth quarter before it all fell apart, leading to an eventual double-OT loss that had the Bucks scratching their heads.

The fact that this came right after everyone anointed them contenders for another runaway win over the Oklahoma City Thunder just reinforces how maddening Milwaukee can be. They’ll likely tease the over/under bettors a few more times down the stretch, looking like champs one night and like also-rans the next.

Now they’ll need to go 8-2 to hit the over in a stretch run that includes two vs Orlando, one against Boston (albeit a Celtics team with little to play for in the standings), a visit to New Orleans, and a home date with a Knicks team likely fighting for a better seed.



Questions of the Day

Which of these NBA teams is in action on Wednesday, March 27?

Cleveland, Chicago, and Los Angeles are on the floor with games they really need to reach the over, especially the Cavs and Lakers.

Any other NBA teams flirting with that over/under line?

Utah was at 35½ to open the season. They were 22-20 in mid-January, but it’s been a slog ever since and tough for those who took the over. The Jazz are 29-43.



The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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