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3 Betting Takeaways From NBA Exhibitions: Is Under Overdone?

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

Mark Strotman  | 5 mins

3 Betting Takeaways From NBA Exhibitions: Is Under Overdone?

NBA exhibition games are in the books, and the next time the league tips off, it’ll be for real. Here’s what we saw during 33 warm-up games and what it means for NBA betting as the NBA prepares to relaunch Thursday night in the Orlando bubble.

Overboard On The Under

You’ve heard the talk. Players will be rusty. Scoring will be down. It’ll take time for teams to get comfortable. Bet the unders. But have bookmakers gone too far? We think so.

These players are professionals. They’ve now been together practicing – locally and in the Orlando bubble – for about a month. They’ve played multiple exhibition games. Some shooters have even said the smaller venues with less depth behind the backboards will make shooting easier, not more difficult.

So, what did 33 exhibition games tell us? You may want to pump the brakes on hammering those unders. Despite months off and playing in a new setting, scoring was actually up from the regular season (224.4 to 222.4) and 3-point shooting wasn’t far behind (34.4% to 35.7%), either. And if we expand out that 33-game sample size – admittedly a small one – teams got progressively more comfortable:

GamesPoints3-point FG%
Games 1-11101.931.7%
Games 12-22111.433.9%
Games 23-33113.737.8%

Remember, there are only 22 teams playing. The eight defenses not in the bubble ranked 13th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 28th and 29th in defensive efficiency this season. Scoring is up and 3-point shooting is on par with regular season totals despite some of the worst defenses in the league watching these games from home.

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How can bettors take advantage of this? Consider that oddsmakers aren’t buying the uptick in scoring. In fact, each of the eight totals for the first two nights of games are lower than the total of those teams’ matchups pre-shutdown.

GameRestart TotalPrevious (avg.)Difference

Unders are the popular pick. But there really isn’t all that much evidence that teams are going to struggle shooting or scoring early in the restart. Oddmakers may have gone too far. Unders have been all the rage, but overs look like the smart play. You can bet on all of these lines with DraftKings:

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3 Teams To Back On The Restart

LeBron James and Anthony Davis looked ready, sure, but the Lakers looked sharp because of their supporting cast. James’ best championship teams have had sharpshooters everywhere, and the Lakers had an NBA-best EFG% of 57.6% in exhibitions, thanks in large part to newcomers JR Smith and Dion Waiters. We know they’re going to be dominant inside, but they’ll be impossible to beat if they’re hitting outside shots.

The Bucks were the NBA’s highest-scoring team prior to the shutdown, and nothing has changed in July. They averaged 123.3 points in the exhibition games and looked unstoppable on both ends of the floor. They’re fully healthy with Eric Bledsoe back in the fold, and soon-to-be back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is in postseason form.

James Harden has had his playoff struggles. It remains to be seen whether he’ll ever get the Rockets over the championship hump. But he’s certainly entering the restart with some momentum, leading the exhibition games with 30.0 points on 50/55.5/84.4 shooting. The Rockets as a whole looked outstanding, shooting 38% while making 19.6 3-pointers per game.

Look to grab these teams in early games at FOXBet as they appear ready for quick starts.

RELATED: Ultimate Guide to NBA Playoff Betting in 2020

2 Teams To Fade Early

The Clippers will miss Lou Williams (quarantine) and Montrezl Harrell (out of the bubble) for Thursday’s opener against the Lakers, and Pat Beverley only recently returned to Orlando after dealing with a personal matter. What’s worse is Kawhi Leonard shot just 12 of 46 and looked nothing like himself in three games.

This shouldn’t scare off bettors from wagering on the Clippers long-term, but just know they’re dealing with some issues as the restart begins.

The Pacers aren’t contenders when fully healthy, so being without Domantas Sabonis (foot) and Victor Oladipo struggling is a worst-case scenario. Oladipo averaged 10.2 points on 34.2% shooting, and the All-Star Sabonis is unlikely to return to the bubble. Avoid Indiana in both daily and future bets.

About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports betting journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports. He regularly provides NBA betting picks, as well as in-depth sportsbook reviews and the latest promo codes for all the major sports gambling operators, including Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and more.