Adjustments You Have to Make When Betting NBA Totals Late in the Playoffs

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics drives downcourt against Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Our betting strategies need to adjust depending on what time of the season it is but late in the NBA postseason can necessitate some of the biggest betting shifts of the year.

Let’s talk about them and how we can be more successful in our NBA playoff picks!

Seasons Change

Before we discuss totals, also known as over/under by the recreational bettors, let’s talk about the difference between the regular season and the playoffs.

You must understand that NBA teams must play an 82-game schedule just to reach the postseason.

And if that’s not enough of a grind, many of those contests involve excessive travel, back-to-back games, extensive road trips, and all of the baggage (if you’ll pardon the pun) that comes along with traveling.

Once the postseason commences, it’s fair to say that the players are far more apt to give their maximum effort and undivided attention to the task at hand.

Learn More: How to Improve Your Handicapping Skills

During the regular season, it is difficult to get amped for a Tuesday night game in January that will seem like a million years ago come April.

Therefore, the matchup you believe you will get is far more likely to occur in the postseason than during the regular season.

There will be no superstars taking the night off to keep them fresh for the rest of the season.

That sort of nonsense doesn’t happen in the playoffs which means the starting five and the bench that you’ve predicated your bets on are the same players you will see when the ball tips.

This allows serious NBA bettors a truer picture than the one they would get if the teams faced each other during the regular season.

Adjustments Made in the Playoffs

When it comes to NBA totals in the postseason, you should know that entering this year, teams average nearly 2 ½ fewer possessions per game.

The pace and tempo of the game slow down as teams are more likely to set up shots, play tighter defense, and are much more judicious with the basketball.

Had you blindly bet the under in every playoff game over the last seven years, before the present season, you would have made money in five of those seven postseasons.

This is not a strategy we would advise, as the sharpest bettors are those who bet games on a case-by-case basis and not just follow a general pattern.

However, since we understand that the playoffs are traditionally lower scoring than regular-season contests, we should also know that the oddsmakers are aware of this also and you will see the average total drop in the playoffs to compensate for this change in pace.

But if we were to review the games after Round 1 of the 2021-2022 NBA playoffs, we would see that betting under has been wildly successful.

Learn More: Making NBA Computer Picks as Part of a Handicapping Strategy

Over the 43 first-round games, they under-cashed in 27 of those contests. That’s right, that 16 (O)-27 (U) record represents a winning percentage on the under at 62.8 percent.

Of course, that doesn’t mean this trend will continue but what it does tell us is that the postseason scoring pattern continues to hold.

We should also take note that teams that rely on dominating the glass reduce second chances around the rim for the opposition which, not surprisingly, cuts down on scoring.

Not every playoff game is going to go under but what you must do, regardless of which way you bet, is make sure you have multiple outs.

Why would you bet under 217 ½ in the Celtics’ Game 1 clash against the Bucks when you can get 218 ½ at another U.S. licensed online sportsbook?

The signup bonuses are generous and having two, three, or more sportsbooks to compare point spreads, moneylines, and totals are critical to winning over the long term.

OddsTrader has all of the best books in the business at your disposal so check them out and always get the best number before you bet! is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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