Betting point-spreads and moneyline in basketball are exciting, but wagering on NBA Over/Unders betting may be the most popular among the three.
Single-game score totals
When betting on game totals, also known as Over/Unders, bettors wager on whether the total combined score of a game will go Over or Under the sportsbooks’ set total.
In the example below, the Grizzlies and Warriors’ total is listed at 228.5. Betting the Over here would mean you expect the game to total 229 points or more, while if you took the Under, you’d expect 228 points or fewer in the game.
For example, you would win the bet if the final score was 118-114 (232), and you bet the Over. If the score was 110-109 (219), you would lose.
|Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warrior|
Remember, who wins and by how much doesn’t matter. It’s about the number of points scored for single-game totals.
Season win totals
Another way to bet on totals in the NBA is by season wins. Before the NBA season starts, sportsbooks will release individual team win totals.
You’re wagering on how well a team will perform throughout the year, as opposed to how they would do in a single game. These lines will usually come out following free agency as teams’ rosters dramatically change during the offseason.
In this example below, a sportsbook gave the Brooklyn Nets a season win total of 56.5 wins. Bettors would wager on whether they think the Nets will win Over or Under 56.5 games.
|Brooklyn Nets||56.5 (+120)||56.5 (-150)|
|Milwaukee Bucks||55.5 (-110)||55.5 (-120)|
|Golden State Warriors||48.5 (-110)||48.5 (-120)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||53.5 (+140)||53.5 (-170)|
|Charlotte Hornets||38.5 (-110)||38.5 (-120)|
The sportsbooks assign a “.5” to the odds so that it's impossible for the team to hit the exact total. Teams can’t win half a game, nor can they score half of a point in single-game totals.
A second set of odds accompanies totals odds on sportsbooks, known as the vig or juice.
What is the vig/juice?
The juice (also known as the vig) is the price the sportsbook imposes when you place a wager on Over/Unders. For example, the juice on the Milwaukee Bucks' Over 55.5 team wins is -110.
You would need to bet $110 to win $100, which would give the book a $10 profit. If there were no vig, the Bucks line would be +100. In that case, the vig would be 10 percent.
Sometimes sportsbook will change the vig on a win total. Suppose a lot of money is coming in on the Bucks Over 55.5 team wins at -110. In that case, the sportsbook will usually adjust the line to -120 or increase the total of 55.5.
NBA Over/Unders tips, strategies
Now that you understand typical NBA Over/Unders odds, here are some tips to hone your basketball betting skills to make smarter NBA totals wagers.
Watch for trends
Knowing team pace is huge when betting basketball totals, as teams that slow the game down will more likely than not keep games low-scoring.
Know the referees
Referees can also heavily influence how a total plays out in calling fouls and sending players to the line. Some refs are stricter than others and quicker to make calls. It’s good to track who affects the Over or Under with their whistle.
Check injury reports
If three-point threats Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson are out for the Warriors, there’s a good chance Golden State will have a more challenging time putting up points on the board. The NBA is star-driven, so one player getting hurt or taking a rest night for a matchup could affect a betting line in a significant way.
You often won’t know the starting lineups until a few hours before tipoff, so it’s good to track daily injury reports.
Offense vs. defense
If two clubs are stingy defensively, that’s another sign that a game leans towards the Under. Conversely, if it’s a game between teams who shoot the lights out and don’t play great defense, target the Over. Many teams play each other numerous times throughout the season, so be sure to look back at the totals for previous contests.
Usually, you’ll be able to find the tendency for whether or not matchups favor the Over or Under historically. Offenses and defenses run hot and cold for clubs throughout the season, so also make sure to research if guys are shooting the ball well in their last few games.
Shop for the best lines
Creating more than one sports betting account is vital if you want to make money on the NBA. Not only can you take advantage of specific promotions and sign-up bonuses, but you can also find the best lines for the game.
If a single-game total at one book is 219.5 but 221.5 at another at the same price, that is a huge difference. Two points may not seem like much, but Over/Unders usually come down to the wire for bettors and every bucket matters.
When they first come out, the lines will be at their weakest and will get sharper as the game draws closer to start-time. That means the sportsbook will adjust the line due to particulars such as injury and lineup news.
You can compare odds at different books to find the best line using our odds comparison tool.
See who the experts and public are betting on
You can also view our Consensus Picks each day to see if the public sides Over or Under in each game. You can also visit the Covers NBA forum to see what our community of knowledgeable and experienced bettors is saying about upcoming matchups.
NBA betting tips and strategies
Make smarter NBA bets with Covers. These guides dive into other ways you can bet on NBA action:
NBA Over/Under FAQs
The Over/Under in basketball is whether or not the total number of points scored in the match will be higher or lower than a total set by sportsbooks.
Under. The general public usually likes to take the Over and inflate the number, so sharper bettors will find themselves backing the Under more often than not and coming out with a profit.
Yes. If a game goes past regulation, the bet will still count for overtime. Overtime works to the advantage of Over bettors.
Add the home and away team points together, and you have your total.
You can place basketball totals bets at nearly every sportsbook online. It’s one of the most commonly placed bets in basketball, and many prefer it to the point-spread or moneyline.