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A Guide to NBA Betting by the Quarter

by December 30, 2021
Early 2022-2023 NBA MVP Odds: Joel Embiid

In gaining experience in sports betting, the value of being sharp, paying attention to detail, and learning from your mistakes is key if you want to have any chance of being profitable. Some teams are just better in more specific situations than in covering full game spreads. No team ever goes undefeated, and often, teams that make the biggest improvements within the season are the most profitable, as opposed to those who are championship favorites. Once this is understood, you can then look even deeper into games and find value within certain stretches being played.

Just about every sportsbook offers quarter betting in two forms, as spreads, and as totals. When approaching placing one of these bets, the spread works the same as a full-game bet, meaning that if the team is -2.5, winning by two or fewer points, as well as losing the quarter results in a loss, and winning the quarter by three or more points results in a win. Having round numbers, such as -3 would still result in a push.

Check out all of our Sports Betting 101: Strategy Tips & Advice >>

Quarter Spread Betting

Let’s take the Oklahoma City Thunder, for example, they are 21-11 ATS on the season, but only 12-20 SU. When you take a deeper dive into the numbers, you will find that they are an incredibly slow-starting team by way of their 11-18-3 mark against the spread, the worst in the entire league! Then the second quarter starts, the Thunder make the necessary adjustments and are top-ten in the NBA, covering in 18 of 32 second quarters.

Let’s take this a step further, the Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Oklahoma City on October 24th of this year, and they came in as ten-point favorites. An inexperienced bettor would think that there is no way to take advantage of a line on the Thunder right? WRONG. Philadelphia got out to a ten-point lead after the first quarter, but then something incredible happened, the Thunder answered by winning the second quarter outright 25-23. Now I am not exactly sure what the line for the second quarter was, but a ten-point dog will never be favored in any quarter, as they usually split the full ten points among each quarter, unless a team is particularly strong or weak in a certain quarter. As a result of this, we can safely say that the Thunder covered the second quarter in this game, which went on to be a twelve-point loss, ending 115-103.

Quarter Total Betting

For total betting by quarter, we will use the Miami Heat as an example, as they hit the over at the second-highest rate of any team in the NBA, at 19-15, but there is an interesting trend that shows how quarter betting is independent of betting halves or full games. The Heat is the sixth lowest in the NBA in hitting first-quarter overs, mainly due to how they like to establish themselves defensively to start games before they bring out the shooters. But whatever the reason, this allows for two things. One, it allows us to make money on the Heat on multiple levels, and this also allows us to smash live overs after the first quarter, but that is a story for another article.

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Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.

Josh Weil is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @Josh_Weil.

Betting 101, How-To, NBA, Strategy