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Why NBA Bettors Should Consider Referee Stats For Playoff Betting

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

Mark Strotman  | 4 mins

Why NBA Bettors Should Consider Referee Stats For Playoff Betting

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There are plenty of numbers to crunch before you bet on NBA games. One of the considerations that oftentimes goes overlooked is the officiating. It’s not just players and teams that have statistics—it’s the referees, too.

Here’s how it works: The postseason begins with the top 36 regular-season officials earning spots. They were the highest-rated officials based on performance and NBA rankings. Officials are evaluated after each round of the postseason, with the top ones “advancing.”

The “best” referees are objective, but what we do know is that all officials have trends that bettors can use at their disposal. Those statistics are available to the public, too. We’ll go over that. The first thing to know is that the officiating crew of a particular NBA game is announced the morning of the contest. And while officiating crews are never going to swing a game’s NBA total or points spread—it could be the difference between a few points, and that could be the difference between a win and a loss.

How Referees Impact NBA Point Totals

Let’s take the 2021-22 regular season as an example and look at the difference in officials, how many fouls they call and the points totals of those games. We’ll use 40 games officiated as a minimum threshold, giving us 43 officials to analyze.

The difference in points per game from the highest point total official (227.8) and the lowest point total official (214.8) was 13 points! The number of fouls an official calls is much less of a difference, with just 3.3 fouls the difference between the highest (39.5) and lowest (36.2) number.

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In 2021-22, here were the five officials that called the highest average point total games:

RefereeAverage Pts Total
David Guthrie227.8
Gediminas Petraitis226.0
Matt Myers225.8
Dedric Taylor225.7
JB DeRosa225.6

And the lowest:

RefereeAverage Pts Total
Aaron Smith214.8
Evan Scott217.0
JT Orr217.4
Phenizee Ransom217.9
Scott Twardoski218.3

NBA Referees: Home vs Away

This isn’t going to surprise anyone, but home teams win in the postseason. But some officials tend to favor the home team more than usual, and the numbers prove it.

We took a look at 2021-22 regular-season numbers and found a big enough discrepancy among refs that it’s something bettors should look at before placing a wager on betting sites.

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Among the 40-game threshold officials, the highest win percentage for home teams was .679 and the lowest was .413. That’s a difference of a 56-win team and a 34-win team. That doesn’t necessarily mean grabbing the moneyline of the home or away team based off who’s officiating—and there are three officials to every game—but it’s something to consider.

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Here are the refs whose games featured the highest win percentage for the home team during the 2021-22 season:

RefereeHome Team Win %
Jonathan Sterling67.9%
Dedric Taylor67.8%
James Capers66%
Jason Goldenberg65.9%
Lauren Holtkamp64.8%

And the lowest:

RefereeHome Team Win %
Marat Kogut41.3%
Ray Acosta43.8%
Derek Richardson45%
Ed Malloy47.5%
Mitchell Ervin49.2%

Your best friend when considering referee stats is NBAStuffer.com. It’s up to date and also separates regular season and postseason. Remember, it’s not the end-all, be-all, but it could make a difference if you’re on the fence about something when considering a wager on your sports betting app this week.

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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.