Makinen: 10 top betting systems for the high-scoring modern NBA

1977

All sports undergo waves of changes involving style or pace of play, rule modifications, and other tweaks. These lead to ever-changing expectations in scores and other key stats. We’ve experienced the years of juiced balls in baseball, hands-off rules in college basketball, the adoption of air raid offenses in college football, and rules changes for safety purposes in the NFL, among other things. All of these typically resulted in higher scoring totals. I’m not sure any of it compares, however, to the absurdity of the transformation we’ve witnessed in the NBA in recent years. For various reasons, average team scoring per game has gone from 96.3 points per game in the 2011-12 season to 114.3 PPG so far this season. That said, bettors still employing trends and systems built for the “old days” need to adjust to the new norms occurring on a nightly basis. With that in mind, I thought I’d share 10 different systems that have arisen over the last 4-1/2 seasons in this new style of play that bettors can employ to generate profits. They consider a team’s extreme stats from the prior contest and how they react in the follow-up game.

I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to make consistent profits in NBA betting, and any other sport, is through the use of systems. These are different than trends in that trends tend to be team specific, thus shorter-lived and riskier to follow. Systems are league-wide, allowing similar teams from different seasons to fit into certain fundamental angles that have provided reliable predictability. We all know that nothing in sports betting is a lock, but I feel that systems provide the foundation on which successful sports betting is built. They come with no bias and, if built upon solid principles, typically perform consistently, and in some cases, spectacularly.

 

One of the key fundamentals I like to use in building systems for any sport is the circumstances of extremes and how teams react to them. On any given night in the NBA, there can be extreme performances, in scores, in results against the point spread, and in stats accumulated in the games. These will generate highlights on social media for fans to digest, but I’m specifically looking to find how teams fare in the follow-up contest when coming off one of these extreme situations. After all, unusual performances tend to sway oddsmakers, thus opening up chances for bettors to take advantage if they know how the teams will react.

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Take a look at these 10 systems I uncovered using NBA results from the past 4-1/2 seasons. I used this time frame because the scoring per game jumped by nearly 5.0 PPG following the 2017-18 season and has stayed at this defenseless level since. It includes results through Sunday 2/5.

1) Fade teams after overtime games

Teams that played in an overtime game have gone 286-347 SU and 287-332-14 ATS (46.4%) in the follow-up contest since 2018. Drilling down on this further, those that played the overtime game the prior day are 40-62 SU and 43-56-3 ATS (43.4%), including 14-26-2 ATS in the last 42 games and 15-24 ATS when a pick ‘em or favorite.

This fairly simple system will be easy to recognize if you believe in it. The 43.4% (or 56.6% if fading) record isn’t gaudy by any means, but it does make foundational sense. Teams had to play extra minutes which were likely the most intense of the game. Naturally, there will be some added fatigue in the follow-up game. This system has been streaking lately, and it carries even more weight when the OT team is favored.

 

 

2) Watch for team scoring 135 points in a win

Teams that won their last game while scoring 135 or more points are 129-79 SU but 90-115-3 ATS (43.9%) in the follow-up contest when favored. The record versus divisional foes among these games is a concerning 13-23 ATS.

Lofty scores are the new norm in NBA play, but what used to be about 115 points as an impressive effort has moved to 135 points over the last decade. Watch for oddsmakers to over-adjust on these high-scoring teams in their next games and look to fade them in the role of favorites, particularly when facing divisional rivals. Every game is unique unto itself; don’t assume these scoring outbursts create momentum.

3) Allowing 135 points in a game is a sign of trouble

NBA teams favored after a previous game allowing 135 points have gone 78-59 SU but 53-82-2 ATS in the follow-up contest over the last 4-1/2 seasons. Included among this is a 44-75 ATS mark when not playing the next day.

Again, more and more teams are hitting the 135-point mark on any given night. Watch for teams that allow this many or more to struggle in the next outing when expected to win. When you consider that the record in games not the next day actually worsens, it seems that these brutal defensive efforts have a lasting hangover effect.

4) Close wins haven’t provided momentum going forward

NBA teams that won as favorites by a close margin (1-3 points) have gone 184-94 SU but just 112-157-9 ATS (41.7%) in the next contest when favored again.

You would think that these types of close wins would be galvanizing for a team; they haven’t been. In fact, considering these favorites win most often in the follow-up game but fail to cover, it seems as if they are being overvalued in the favorite role by oddsmakers.

5) Rout wins are a warning sign for next contest for hosts

NBA home teams coming off any game in which they beat the point spread by 20 points or more are 179-147 SU but 134-181-11 ATS (42.5%) over the last 4-1/2 seasons.  The worst situation for these teams comes against divisional rivals, 23-45 ATS.

We saw earlier where close wins were red flags. Now we have a system where we are looking to fade home teams when they are coming off a huge point-spread win. They have a hard time living up to what is likely an inflated number in the following game. Teams qualifying for this beat the point spread by 20 points, not necessarily the opponent. For instance, if Team A is playing at home and won its last game by 15 as a 5-point underdog, they would qualify here. Things are worse when the opponent is a divisional rival.

6) Big point spread moves are an eye-opener

6) NBA home teams coming off a loss and playing in games where their line is at least 10 points worse than the prior game have gone 42-59 SU but 60-40-1 ATS (60%) in that next contest over the last 4-1/2 seasons.

Think about this for a second. It seems like an oddsmaker set up to me. Team loses one game, and in the next, their line is jacked way down. Could be for injury or load management reasons. Could be that they aren’t a good home team, or it could have something to do with the way they lost the last outing. In any case, it seems that the line adjustment is an overadjustment, and these teams usually wind up being more competitive than thought.

7) Teams not making many free throws bounce back well

NBA teams that coming off a game in which they made six free throws or fewer have bounced back well in the next outing and are on a 129-100 SU and 132-91-6 ATS (59.2%) run.

In this age of hands-off defense and three-point shooting dominating the game, there are often games when one of the teams makes six or fewer free throws. We can argue the competitive merits of this until we’re blue in the face, but instead, let’s take advantage. Find these teams in the box scores that don’t shoot or make a lot of free throws in a game and back them in the next outing. Surely the refs will help tilt the scales the next time around, right?

8) Prolific three-point shooting doesn’t travel

NBA road teams coming off a game in which they made 20 three-point shots have gone just 73-100 SU and 72-96-5 ATS (42.9%) in that next contest over the last 4-1/2 seasons. As road favorites, the record drops to 35-54 ATS.

It seems that red-hot three-point shooting does not travel well from arena to arena, as teams that hit 20 or more long-range bombs in one game but have to hit the road for the next outing have not fared well. Returns to normalcy, different city, different arena, travel fatigue and potential oddsmaker overadjustment are probably all contributing factors. Avoid these teams regardless of what you saw last outing, particularly when they are laying points.

9) Back-to-back scoring outbursts could be the beginning of a trend.

NBA teams coming off back-to-back wins in which they scored 130 points in each outing have gone 44-27 SU and 45-25-2 ATS (64.3%) in the follow-up contest since 2018, including 19-8 ATS as underdogs.

At 64.3%, this is the most definitive system I’ve published yet, and it would seem to be an easy one to convince even recreational bettors to take part in. Back teams that scored well in consecutive victories. It’s that simple. When oddsmakers commit the mistake of placing these teams as underdogs, hit it even harder.

10) Teams losing despite scoring well are dangerous

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, NBA teams coming off back-to-back losses in which they scored 115 points offensively have bounced back extremely well in the next outing, going 75-76 SU but 92-56-3 ATS (62.2%), including 65-26 ATS when installed as underdogs.

That 65-26 ATS mark essentially saves the best system for last. With a 71.4% win rate, these high-scoring dogs have indeed proved to be very dangerous. Look for teams that may be losing despite scoring well to eventually break out.
 

Add these NBA systems to your library going forward and reap the rewards.

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Steve Makinen
As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.