Our Top Sportsbooks

Get OVER It: Nets and Pelicans Crushed Totals in January

The Brooklyn Nets have the second-best OVER record in January since 1994

Totals bettors looking for early-season NBA betting trends don’t have to look further than the Brooklyn Nets. The turnkey NBA championship squad in the Eastern Conference is starting to climb in the standings after acquiring James Harden, but lost in all the drama and excitement of this new Big Three is how Nets games seem to be going OVER game totals with ease.

Brooklyn has played 17 games in January and the OVER cashed in 15 of them. To put that O/U record in perspective, it’s the second-best OVER record for the month of January in Odds Shark’s NBA betting database, which goes back to 1994. The best OVER record ever in January? That belongs to this year’s New Orleans Pelicans at a startling 12-1 O/U.

See Odds Shark’s Best NBA Sites

So, this begs the question, how did this happen? I’ll expand below on how the Nets and Pelicans’ January OVER runs rank all-time, what bettors should expect from Brooklyn and New Orleans and, most importantly, how oddsmakers could be setting the totals for games in February.

Best All-Time NBA OVER Records in January

YearTeamO/U Record
2021Pelicans12-1 (92.3%)
2021Nets15-2 (88.2%)
2007Timberwolves14-2-1 (87.5%)
2020Pelicans12-2-1 (85.7%)
1998Bucks12-2 (85.7%)
2014Lakers11-2-2 (85.6%)
2017Celtics11-2-1 (84.6%)
1996Wizards11-2 (84.6%)
2016Rockets13-3 (81.3%)
1997Hornets13-3 (81.3%)
2020Cavaliers13-3 (81.3%)

Here I was all excited about the Nets when it’s New Orleans that is the sneaky OVER team this past month. Of the Pelicans’ 13 games, 12 of them went OVER the closing total. The lone game that went UNDER had a closing total of 218.5 vs the Lakers and the Pelicans only managed to score 95 points against the top defense in the league. It’s also worth mentioning the Pelicans have been an OVER darling in January in back-to-back seasons now with 25 of their 29 games going OVER.

As for the Nets, they’ve been getting the spotlight heavily in January because of roster drama/turnover. Acquiring James Harden and having Kyrie Irving be a no-show for two weeks were just some of the things that were drawing attention away from the fact that Brooklyn games have been an OVER bettor’s dream with an O/U record of 15-2 in 17 outings.

How Did This OVER Run Happen?

To put in perspective how insane this 15-2 OVER run has been for Brooklyn Nets games, you only need to look at their points scored per game and their scoring defense. As prolific as the Brooklyn offense has been with three players averaging 23 points or more per game, the defense has been non-existent.

The Nets averaged 122.4 points per game in January while simultaneously giving up 119.5. Take a look at the average combined scores from those 17 January games and the average closing total from oddsmakers:

Nets: Avg. Combined Scores and Closing Totals In January 2021
TeamAvg. Final Combined ScoresAverage Closing Total
Nets241.9230.7

Sportsbooks in general are having a difficult time deciding how to set the totals for Nets games. For example, the total for Nets-Wizards on Sunday, January 31, closed at 245.5, the highest total for any NBA game this season. Final score? Wizards 149, Nets 146.

How did oddsmakers get this so wrong? Two hundred and ninety-five combined freakin’ points? Another factoid to note is sportsbooks have closed totals at 240 or more in five Nets games this season and four of them went OVER. The average combined score in those games was 256.8.

As for the Pelicans, they are presenting a similar predicament for oddsmakers setting totals who are again missing the mark by an average of just over 13 points.

Pelicans: Avg. Combined Scores and Closing Totals in January 2021
TeamAvg. Final Combined ScoresAverage Closing Total
Pelicans232219.7

I’m sure bettors are wondering, “What about the rest of the NBA? It can’t just be the Pelicans and Nets crushing totals.” In fact, it is. There were 222 NBA games played in January. The O/U record for those games was 113-107-2. Look at the average combined scores and average closing totals for all games:

NBA: Avg. Combined Scores and Closing Totals in January 2021
TeamsAvg. Final Combined ScoresAverage Closing Total
All222.3222.7

How To Bet Nets and Pelicans Totals Going Forward

This is a tricky spot because bettors can’t just blindly take OVERs in the NBA. Sometimes the total is way too high to stomach an OVER bet or the personnel on the court doesn’t imply scoring will happen. For example, if the Nets had Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving all out for a game and the total is hovering around 240, I think you have to take the UNDER in that scenario.

However, we have seen when one of the Big Three misses the game that OVERs can still occur. During the seven-game stretch in January when Irving missed time, the OVER hit in each game. A good test for this will come Tuesday vs the Los Angeles Clippers, who are a top-10 offense but also a top-five scoring defense in the NBA. That total opened at 243.5.

In the case of the Pelicans, you’re already starting to see a correction of that trend. On Monday, they played the Sacramento Kings, the worst scoring defense in the league, and could only manage 109 points. The total fell short by eight points and the Pelicans’ eight-game OVER streak died with it. I’d steer clear of Pellies games and just stick with the Nets going forward.