Folks who thought the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks,
Boston Celtics and Miami Heat would be among the winningest teams
in the NBA were wrong (by a lot, in some cases).
And if they wagered “over” on the preseason over/under win
totals, the sportsbooks in the legalized U.S. sports gambling
market padded their profits with that misspent money.
The pandemic-altered 2020-21 NBA season has 16 days remaining,
and only six teams have clinched the “over” on their preseason win
• The Utah Jazz had a preseason over/under win total of
41.5. The Jazz enter the weekend 45-18 following their loss to the
Phoenix Suns last night.
• The Phoenix Suns had a preseason over/under win total of
38.5 and have blown past it. The Suns’ 121-100 home victory over
Utah last night put them in first place in the West at 45-18 (since
they own the tiebreaker with Utah).
• The New York Knicks had a preseason over/under of just
21.5 wins. The Knicks covered that number way back on March 23, and
currently sit fourth in the East at 35-28.
• The Charlotte Hornets had a preseason over/under win
total of 26.5 and are now 30-32 with LaMelo Ball returning
• The Memphis Grizzlies had a preseason over/under win
total of 31.5 and picked up win No. 32 last night with a 17-point
victory over the Orlando Magic.
• The San Antonio Spurs had a preseason win total of 28.5 and
have covered, sitting at 31-31 with Pop’s play-in worthy edition of
Nobody else has hit the over yet, but the Atlanta Hawks (34-30)
are one victory away, while the Philadelphia 76ers (42-21),
Cleveland Cavaliers (21-42) and Oklahoma City Thunder (21-42) are
two victories away. The Brooklyn Nets (43-21), Sacramento Kings
(26-37) and Denver Nuggets (42-21) are three victories away, and
the Los Angeles Clippers (43-21), Chicago Bulls (26-37) and
Washington Wizards (29-34) are four victories away.
Teams that have no chance of going over include the Bucks, who
had the highest over/under (49.5), but are 39-24 with nine games
left; the Lakers, who were second-highest at (47.5), but are 36-27
after a loss to the Sacramento Kings last night in LeBron James’
return; the Celtics, who are 34-30 and cannot reach their number of
44.5; the Heat (33-30), who are 11 wins shy of covering with nine
games left; the Toronto Raptors, who are 17 games shy of covering;
the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-44), who are 10 games shy of
covering, and the Orlando Magic (19-44), who are 13 games short of
The Indiana Pacers need to finish 10-0 to cover, and the New
Orleans Pelicans need to finish 9-0 to cover, while the Dallas
Mavericks would need to finish 8-2 to cover. The Portland Trail
Blazers need six wins to cover.
The Houston Rockets (16-47) take the prize for coming up
shortest, needing 19 wins to cover their preseason over/under of
That makes it likely that fewer than half of the NBA’s 30 teams
will hit their preseason number, which tells you two things: A ton
of teams have underperformed, and there is a reason why they build
huge hotels in places like Las Vegas.
“Generally when there are more unders than overs, that is good
for the books,” said one of the most esteemed oddsmakers in the
business, Jeff Sherman of LV Sportsbook. “The public likes to bet
overs, because people like to wager on positives. An example would
be an over/under game line on a football or basketball game. More
points is a positive, but only the sharp bettors wager on things
“We set lines looking for balanced action,” Sherman said, adding
that this season’s NHL hockey over/under win totals will not be
good for the books, but NBA over/unders will.
Even though only a handful of NBA teams have already hit the
“over,” it is still a huge increase over last season when all win
total over/unders were voided because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Those lines were set with the expectation that an 82-game season
would be played.
Going back to the 2018-19 season, there were 15 teams that hit
the “over” and 15 that hit the “under.” That 15-15 record was not
determined until the final day of the season when the Pacers won
their 48th game and the Thunder won their 49th.
The previous season, 14 teams went over and 16 went under, and
in 2016-17 there were four teams – Atlanta, Toronto, Boston and
Golden State – whose over/under was not decided until the 82nd game
of the season. That, too, was a 15-15 season in terms of teams
hitting the “over” or the “under,” as was the 2015-16 season.
You have to go back to 2013-14 to find a season similar to this
one. In that campaign, 10 teams hit the over, 19 were under and one
team, Golden State, pushed with 51 victories.
The last time more “overs” than “unders” hit was 2012-13, when
the tally was 16-14.
We are still a month away from the best teams beginning their
postseasons, and the teams that survive the play-in tournament will
be going up against higher-seeded opponents who will have been
sitting idle for a week. So if you are a believer in overachievers,
there are some enticing odds out there.
The Knicks are currently 40-1 to win the East, and the Grizzlies
are 80-1 to win the West. Seems unlikely, but just remember that
very few people expected Miami to come out of the East last
Right now, the Heat are 12-1 to come out of the East while the
team 2.5 games behind them, the Hornets, are 250-1 to make it to
Just an educated guess, but Michael Jordan would probably like