4 Special Strategies and Tactics if You Want to Gamble on NBA Win Totals by Team

Milwaukee Bucks vs Phoenix Suns - Two Young People Happy Holding Phones - Raining Money

Let me ask you a question. How do you know you’re a true NBA fan? When the lines for the over/under team win totals come out months prior to the start of the season, you can’t help but dive into all 30 teams!

Okay, that might be more than most fans are willing to do, but for those fans who try to make money betting on the action, it might as well be a holiday. With all that can happen during the course of an 82-game season, knowing which way to bet is a challenge. I’ll lay out 4 tips to help make it just a little easier.

1 – Review All the Important Roster Changes

Over the past decade, the NBA has turned itself into a league that is defined by player mobility. Shorter contracts, stars recruiting other stars to play alongside them, and of course the situations defined by frustration and unhappiness are all reasons for the constant roster changes throughout the Association.

Before you make any bets on the over/under for team win totals, you need to be looking over the roster of each team as it will be constructed heading into the season. This is a good time to mention I would refrain from making any bets on team totals until the conclusion of free agency, because last-minute deals – even for superstars – have become the norm rather than the exception.

It sounds obvious:
But even avid fans can overlook some of the transactions that happen during the course of the offseason. For example, players who sat out due to injury during the previous season might not be on the top of your list of “player moves to look out for.

Keep in mind that although star players changing teams will lead the headlines, role-player movement isn’t something to be overlooked. Certain bench players have proven to have a major impact on a team’s success throughout the course of the season.

I’d go as far as to say that even some “locker room guys,” whose primary impact on a team might not have anything to do with what happens on the court, can be worth at least a couple of wins.

You wouldn’t bet on a game without first checking the injury report to see who’s going to be on the court that night – don’t throw any money down on the season win totals until you see what the current roster construction looks like before the season starts.

2 – Consider the Possibility of Load Management

It’s not a hot take to say that the league’s top players have been known to take a few nights off each season for the sake of “load management.LeBron James, for example, could probably be credited for making this a thing (but hey, 19 years into his career it’s hard to argue with the results), but other players have followed suit in an effort to stay fresh for the playoffs.

Aside from sitting out entire games, superstars have learned to take nights off even when they’re still playing. Whether it’s fewer minutes, not playing at full capacity until the fourth quarter, etc., a precedent has been set that it’s all about the postseason. This is crucial to keep in mind when looking at season win totals.

Take LeBron’s Cavaliers of the late 2010s for example – it didn’t matter if they finished as the one seed in the Eastern Conference or as the eighth seed – as long as LeBron and Kyrie were healthy, things were good. Without question, this philosophy led to fewer wins during the regular season, which didn’t impact their end results as a team, but probably did change the fortune of some unlucky (or lucky) handicappers.

Don’t just think that because a team is one of the favorites to win the championship, that they should be one of the winningest teams during the regular season. Consider how “load management” might factor into the equation. If a team has already proven they’re a contender, they might take it easy until playoff time.

3 – Evaluate the Team’s Goals – Including Possible Tanking

This ones piggybacks off the idea of load management in the sense that it’s important to consider a team’s goals. Some teams – for example, teams that don’t have a real shot at winning the championship (seriously, let’s be realistic – each year it’s only a handful who are truly capable of pulling it off), they might actually put for emphasis on having a good regular season.

  • The Toronto Raptors that existed during the LeBron James era come to mind. Before they had Kawhi Leonard on the roster, they were perennial regular season all-stars who put a lot of W’s in the win column, but were never looked at as a real title contender. Perhaps the latter is the reason for the former.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks also have experienced this over the years, though much like the Raptors, they eventually did get over the hump.
  • If you’re looking for another team to demonstrate the example of not taking the regular season all that seriously, the LA Clippers come to mind – and it seems unlikely they’ll ever get to the top of the mountain like the LeBron James Cavs did.

Then there’s the issue of tanking. Nobody likes talking about it, but it’s an undeniable reality that still exists in the NBA today. While I won’t go as far as saying that there are teams who completely mail it in starting from Game 1, there are certainly teams who will have much less “motivation” during the final month or two of the season if they’re in the running for the lottery.

If you’re looking at some of the teams who have the lowest over/under win total numbers in the league, consider the possibility that you might be able to hit the “under” when the tanking factor comes into play. When you’re talking about the benefit of winning a 23rd game compared to getting extra chances to get a higher pick in the upcoming draft, it’s clear which has more value to the franchise.

It’s fairly common for team win totals bets to be won or lost in the final dozen or so games on a team’s schedule – ask yourself if the team you’re betting on will be putting in full effort to win (or lose) these important games.

4 – Keep Bet Amounts Reasonable

Futures bets like the one I’ve discussed in this article are awesome, but I wouldn’t advise making them the primary focus of your overall betting strategy. These should be low-risk propositions that won’t hurt your bankroll if they don’t end up working out how you anticipated.

Some people bet on sports to increase their overall enjoyment of the games themselves. Others bet on sports because they’re legitimately trying to make money.

While neither approach is always the right or wrong way to look at sports gambling, I would say that when it comes to season-long bets (with their inherent variables that make them wildly unpredictable), it’s best to make this particular type of bet one that isn’t going to impact your long-term plan.

You don’t want to be looking at taking four or five major losses once the season wraps up. If you feel particularly strong about one team’s over/under, by all means, throw a little extra down. However, think twice before making a big bet that you won’t know the outcome of for months.

Place Your Bets Now!


Your season win total bet can fall apart after two weeks due to an injury to a key player, or you could be waiting all the way up until game 82 to see if you’ll cash in or have to pay up. Remember that there are endless variables at play, so it’s best not to bet the house on any one team.

In the end, it provides season-long entertainment and a reason to root for a team (or root for their opponents), which in my opinion, is worth it in and of itself.

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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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