Everybody who has bet the NBA playoffs for any length of time knows all about the lower totals and the lower-scoring games. Players actually play defense and the importance of each possession is magnified a bit, as one or two can make the difference between going to the next round or going home.
While that sounds good on the surface, it’s not quite true, at least as far as home teams go. Teams playing in front of their fans have scored more in the playoffs over the past four years than they have during the regular season. But road teams do average 1.9 fewer points in the playoffs over that time frame, while the average total drops from 207 to 206.1.
We’ll look at each of the last four years individually.
2014 Regular Season: 101.2 – 98.9
2014 Playoffs 101.6 – 99.5
Both home teams and away teams scored more in the postseason during the playoffs than they did during the regular season, while totals also went up, climbing from 200.2 to 201.3 and were 36-44-1.
2015 Regular Season: 104 – 101.3
2015 Playoffs: 103.9 – 95.8
Huge drop for road teams in the 2015-16 playoffs, while home teams were pretty consistent. Even with the average total dropping from 204.9 during the regular season to 202.2 totals were still just 32-52-2.
2016 Regular Season: 107.2 – 104
2016 Playoffs: 107.1 – 105
Another season that saw a slight scoring increase in the postseason compared to the regular season, with home teams essentially the same and a point increase for road teams. There wasn’t much of a change in the average total, going from 210.7 to 209.6 in the playoffs, but totals were 48-30-1.
2017 Regular Season: 107.4 – 105.3
2017 Playoffs: 107.6 – 101.3
Big decrease in the way team scoring once again, so totals were 33-44-2 for the postseason. There was a slight decrease in the average total from 212.4 to 211.6.
2018 Regular Season: 112.6 – 109.8
2018 Playoffs: ?????
There was a huge scoring increase this season from previous years, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see scoring down a bit these playoffs. Teams like Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Washington are done for the year and just four of the 16 playoff teams have negative defensive numbers in my ratings, so the teams do know the importance of playing on both sides of the ball.
Over the four years we looked at, when the home team is favored and the total was less than 210, totals went 62-83-2 (42.8%), while in games where the home team was favored by double digits, totals were just 18-29 (38.3%), so a couple of things to keep an eye on.
While not a total trend, home underdogs the past four years have been a dismal 33-54-1 (37.9%).