NBA Betting: How Referees Impact The Game

Compared to other professional sports, NBA referees are able to impact the outcome of a game in considerably more ways. Just look at the prime example of the disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy. Due to the fact that NBA referees make a lot more calls compared to other professional sports, exercise a lot more discretion in their calls, and the fact that the game unfolds to quickly before their eyes, they’re able to make or break a team’s chances of winning on some nights. When betting on the NBA, it’s important to also consider who’s behind the whistle and how this could impact your betting strategy. Here are four things to know about NBA referees.

More Fouls Equals More Points

This should seem fairly obvious. The NBA is a game of possessions and pace – the more possessions a team receives, the more points the team will score. This should be crystal clear to anyone watching the final two minutes of a close game. While the game clock indicates two minutes, this can turn into half-an-hour of real-world time. This is due to the fact that the losing team will be forced to foul the opposing team or throw up shots very early in the shot clock in order to try and get back into the game. As a result, referees that have a quick trigger on their whistles in terms of foul calls will offer more possessions for both teams. Furthermore, fouls called also stops the game clock and allows teams to put more points on the board without elapsing any time from the game clock. Simply put, referees that tend to call more fouls will produce more points in games that they officiate.

Referee Data

As many people are catching on to the importance of referees when it comes to NBA betting, a number of websites have started offering data on referees. One useful website,, offers up-to-date statistics on the tendencies of each referee, including their points per game allowed and bias towards home teams, among others.

Value Of Referee Data

You might be asking yourself, how valuable is this data when it comes to betting on NBA games? While that’s certainly up for debate, NBA handicappers have been utilizing referee factors for a number of years now, with oddsmakers absolutely factoring in which officials are calling each contest. Some referees have also been shown to exhibit a significant bias towards home teams. Instead of blindly betting the over on game totals for referees who call more fouls than others, one should incorporate this factor as part of the bigger picture.

Personal Vindication

It’s quite well known that some referees just don’t get along with certain players in the league. Allen Iverson, back in his day, was a well-known instigator among referees. When this happens, especially compounded over many years, referees tend to hold personal grudges against certain players. A play that the player is involved in that would typically warrant a foul call by the referee is ignored due to the history between player and referee. While this is not good for the sport of basketball in any way, it’s something that’s inevitable and part of human nature. As a result, it would be prudent to identify players that certain referees have a specific liking or dislike towards and use it to your advantage.

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