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NBA Betting Trends: High Scoring Totals Highlight NBA Action

The next round of the In-Season Tournament takes place tonight in Las Vegas, with two semifinals on the docket. Then comes a somewhat busy Friday night and then a restful weekend with just one game (the In-Season championship) on Saturday.

It’s a good time to take a bit of a breather and analyze some early trends that may have impacted us at the sportsbook.

NBA Betting Trends: High Scoring Totals Highlight NBA Action
Payton Pritchard #11 of the Boston Celtics | Dylan Buell/getty Images/afp

Points Are Up (Kind Of)

There are a handful of really great offenses that are pushing things to the extreme, led by the Indiana Pacers, and a handful of really poor defenses that offer up almost no resistance. That’s led to some gaudy offensive numbers so far.

Indiana is a great case study on its own. The Pacers lead the NBA in points per game at 128.4, which would shatter the all-time record by nearly two points. They also are giving up an NBA-high 125.2 points, which would be the highest average in 33 years.

A lot of this has to do with their incredible pace and style, but this is also the first year in which we’ve had an in-season event that rewards teams for point differential and points scored. Perhaps, now that the incentive-laden portion of this tournament is complete, we won’t see as many run-it-up nights.

Las Vegas odds have been slow to keep up. The over has been hit 44 more times than the under, a rather alarming gap that also might normalize over time. But it’s doubtful that you’ll see it completely level off. On the whole, taking the over – especially with several lesser teams like San Antonio, Washington, Charlotte and Detroit – with a bet online has paid off.

70% Is the New 60%

As part of many of these high-scoring nights are a multitude in which individuals are putting up perfect or near-perfect shooting efforts, and not without plenty of attempts. Many big men, emboldened by the way the league calls things underneath compared to how it used to, are raking in the bunnies left and right.

Jakob Poeltl is shooting 72.9% from the floor for Toronto. That would be the second-best figure in NBA history, behind only Mitchell Robinson’s record 74.2% in 2019-20. It was just this century that Shaquille O’Neal would win this category on the regular with figures around 57-58%.

What’s even more notable, though, is how many guys are not too far behind Poeltl. When Robinson set his mark just four years ago, only four others among qualified players finished over 60%. This season there are nine others, and several others flirting with that plateau. We will likely have the first season ever with two players (maybe even three) over 70%. There are 15 guys at 57% or more, to put it in perspective relative to some of Shaq’s old numbers.

This could come into play in terms of online betting if you ever see an NBA prop bet that you like for your bet slip. And if you like digging into the numbers a bit more, check out the NBA’s page for shooting stats and team opponents shooting stats and you might find a scenario where one of the league’s best in the restricted area is going up against one of the league’s worst defenses in that zone.

That right there can yield a nice payout.

Odds and Ends

As NBA live betting gets more popular, it’s important to look for some in-game trends that can impact your NBA picks. The manner in which certain teams turn things on (or off) at different times of the game can be the deciding factor in a wager placed at halftime or entering the fourth quarter.

One early trend we’ve seen is just how absolutely dominant the Boston Celtics have been in the first quarter. They’re often good throughout the game, of course, but do so much of their damage in those first 12 minutes that it deflates other teams.

The Celtics are winning the first quarter by an average margin of 6.3 points. Only Denver (+4.3) is somewhat close. The differential in Boston’s next three quarters is plus-2.5, MINUS-0.7 and plus-0.8. Throw in a minus-4.0 for its two overtime games, and you’re basically looking at a team that’s just a little above water after the first 12 minutes.

Sticking with that theme, we see that the Orlando Magic are the ones dominating in the second quarter. Why? Because their bench is the best there is in terms of offensive production. Indeed, the Magic are putting their foot on the gas when teams start going to their second units, often taking charge at that portion of the game with a plus-5.4 point differential in the second. That’s nearly two points better than anyone else.

Orlando’s bench averages an NBA-high 46.9 points per game while shooting 49% from the floor.

At the end of games we see something special in Milwaukee, where the Bucks own a plus-4.3 point differential, easily best in the league. In 12 games involving clutch situations they’ve gone 9-3 with a plus-2.9 point gap, also tops in the NBA. Figuring out how to match up with Dame, Giannis with guys like Beasley and Middleton lurking on the perimeter has proven difficult down the stretch.

It’s interesting to see who’s on the other end of the spectrum. That would be Phoenix, which has been crushed in the fourth (league-worst minus-3.8 points on average). The Suns shoot 38.6% in the clutch and are 6-8 in games involving those situations.

Perhaps the eventual return of BradleyBeal will give them another stretch-run scoring option.



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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