It’s no secret the NBA is aggressively pursuing its options internationally, with commissioner David Stern predicting this month there will multiple franchises in Europe within 20 years.
A sell-out crowd will watch the Detroit Pistons take on the New York Knicks in London, England Thursday, in what will be the league's 16th regular season game in a foreign market.
We took a look back at all 15 foreign regular season games and found a lopsided trend. The last five overseas games have all played over the total in overwhelming fashion and the participating teams have combined to score an average of 229 points per game during that stretch. Nine of the 15 games have played over the number overall.
Here’s a look at the results of the last five games on foreign soil:
Played in London England:
Nets 137, Raptors 136 (3OT) - March 5, 2011 – total set for game: 205.5
Nets 116, Raptors 103 - March 4, 2011 – total set for game: 203.5
Played in Saitama, Japan:
Sonics 124, Clippers 105 – Oct. 31, 2003 – total set for game: 186
Sonics 109, Clippers 100 – Oct.30, 2003 – total set for game: 180.5
Played in Tokyo, Japan:
T-Wolves 114, Kings 101 – Nov. 6 1999 – total set for game: 205
Pete Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, is sending out a suggested total in the mid-190s for Thursday’s game at O2 Arena.
“They’re there to win the game,” Korner told Covers. “I’m sure they (Knicks/Pistons) don’t care about providing entertainment value.”
Korner doesn’t believe the trend holds much value from an oddsmaking perspective because of the variation in teams throughout the years.
“My advice would be to play it for what it’s worth,” says Korner.
So what is it worth to bettors?
“There’s definitely some value there,” says Covers Expert Bryan Power. “The only thing I might be concerned about is that many bettors could bet the number up.”
Here are a couple points to consider. Both teams haven’t played since the weekend, giving them ample time to prepare. The Knicks scored 100 points in a win over the Hornets, while the Pistons lost at home to Utah Saturday, managing only 87 points. However, Detroit topped 100 points in its two previous contests. The only prior meeting between the teams this season was very high scoring, 121-100 in favor of New York at MSG.
Online sportsbook BetOnline has set an early total of 196.5 for Thursday's game across the pond.