The NBA is currently the second most popular sport to wager on in the United States, well behind the NFL (Football), but ahead of MLB (Baseball) and NHL (Hockey). The NBA is very visible on social media, and the league has done great work in promoting itself and its stars online, which has helped with overall popularity amongst younger viewers especially. During the winter, the NBA has great national television exposure on TNT and the ESPN networks, regularly showing marquee games between the best teams in the league, showcasing the league’s most exciting players.
As sports betting is becoming legal in more states wagering on the NBA should increase. Access to bet online for the common fan, with better accessibility to legal online sports betting will also be a major factor in the rise of bets places on NBA matches. The NBA and a few NBA teams have already established partnerships with some of the larger sportsbooks and we expect more to come as their commissioner and many franchise owners have been quite forward-thinking in the sports wagering realm.
The NBA, like the MLB, has a long and arduous schedule. Each team plays 82 regular season games, plus there is a long playoff schedule in the NBA, which makes for ample betting opportunities throughout the season. The NBA not only contains an excess of games to bet on each week, but there are numerous types of bets offered within each game.
NBA overtime rules do not allow for ties to come into play, so every ML bet will result in a win or a loss.
The amount of events to place bets on within an NBA season can be enormous. Understanding each type of bet and how wagers can correlate is a great start to become a successful NBA sports bettor. The season is long and there are plenty of games to be on so there is definitely time to learn how to master the art of sports betting. The different types of bets offered all have their charm to both increase the excitement of a game and your betting success.
Money Line (ML) Bets
Money Line (ML) Bets – Are very common but not the most popular form of wagering on NBA. ML is the simplest form of betting as all you need to do is to select the outright winner of the game you are betting on. With money line bets it does not matter how many points a team wins by, a one point or 10 point win margin is ultimately the same as long as the team you are backing is winning the game. NBA overtime rules excludes the change of a tie so your bet is either for the home team or away team to win, as easy as that.
When betting on the moneyline a sportsbook is balancing the odds based on the favorited of the team. As an instance, an excellent team such as the Warriors playing a weaker team such as the Wizardswill have considerable odds in their favor. Example below:
Washington Wizards (+450) at Golden State Warriors (-600)
The team with the plus sign in the odds is indicating the underdog and the team with the minus sign in the odds is indicating the favorite.
The odds with the plus sign means how much you will win when placing a bet of $100. So if you place a moneyline bet of $100 on the Wizards you would win you would win $450 (plus the $100 you wagered). If your bet is lost you simply lose the wagered $100. If betting on the favorite (in this case the Golden State Warriors with the minus sign you would need to bet $600 in order to win $100 (plus the money wagered).
The difference in odds is how a sportsbook creates a balance in a game between two uneven teams. The sportsbook needs to adjust the odds to create a margin as if the odds were even every wager would be placed on the favorite team and this would long term create a negative margin for the sportsbooks.
The ML betting odds are affected by many factors:
- How strong a team is at home or on the road
- Injuries on key players
- Game schedule intensity
- Team form
- Previous matchups against the teams
- …and much more
Point Spread Bets
NBA’s most popular type of wager is the point spread wager. The point spread also commonly referred to as a bet against the spread can be acknowledged as how many points a team can win or lose with in a game. The whole point with point spread is to even the game based on points instead of in the case with moneyline evening the game with the odds.
Let’s take a look at an example from the same Wizards at Warriors game used above for the moneyline explanation:
Washington Wizards +11.5 (-110) at Golden State Warriors -11.5 (-110)
With the odds posted, you would stand to win $100 (plus the $110 wagered) if the Wizards win the game or lose by eleven or less.
The clarification of these point spread odds are as follows – a $110 wager on the Wizards +11.5 means that you are betting that the Wizards will either win the game outright or lose by 1-11 points. The Wizards losing by twelve or more points would result in a loss. With the odds posted, you would stand to win $100 (plus the $110 wagered) if the Wizards win the game or lose by eleven or less. If betting on the Warriors -11.5, the odds and point spread means that you need to bet $110 to win $100, and the Warriors must win the game by at least 12 points for your bet to be a win. This system of balancing out each game is what makes point spread betting so popular. With point spread betting you can always back the team you support and enhance the excitement of watching your team play even though they loosing or winning big as your point spread bet might still be uncertain to the very last minute of the game.
Game Total Bets
NBA total bets works in the same way as for other sports. A line is set by the sportsbook for the total number of points predicted to be scored in a game. There are two options for placing your bets – on the over or the under.
For example, our Wizards at Warriors game total is set at 215.5 points. You then chose if you want to bet on over 215.5 points or under. Some game totals are set at whole numbers which bring pushes into play as well, an added wrinkle not seen as much in the two bet types discussed above.
…injuries to key players have significant impact on game total lines and odds.
The opening lines for the game totals will be adjusted by the sportsbooks as money is being wagered on each side (over/under). If the over is being wagered heavier than the under the game total line is likely to be move up and vice versa if the under is being wagered more intensively the game total line will go down.
For example, the game total betting profile might look similar to the below for this Wizards/Warriors game, and then change based on wagers received.
Wizards at Warriors Under 215.5 (-105)
Wizards at Warriors Over 215.5 (-115)
Many factors comes into play when setting the game totals. Team forms, game totals in previous encounters, strong offensive vs defensive lineups and much more. The sportsbooks have access to a lot of data and do everything in their power to set the lines to be as profitable as possible. If you want to master the art of game total betting you need to follow the lines carefully.
Team Total Bets
NBA team total works in a very similar way as Game Totals with only exception that you are now betting on the total points scored by one team and not the two teams combined. You can place bets on the over or the under of either team. Below is an example of how our Wizards/Warriors game might look for team total wagering, given the other odds offered above for the other wagering types.
Wizards Team Total: Over 103.0 -105 ; Under 103.0 -115
Warriors Team Total: Over 114.5 -115 ; Under 114.5 -105
Team total betting is a very fun as the bet creates a game within the game. All you need to follow is the points scored by the team total you have placed your bet on. Team totals is not the most common type of bet for sports betting but is more popular for Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and if used right can be a great way to become a successful DFS player.
Parlay Bets – NBA wagers can be parlayed. A parlay is easiest described as multiple bets placed within the same bet. In order for a parlay bet to be paid out you need to hit all bets in order. Parlay bets comes with a higher risk but the reward is greater compared to a single bet.
For example, if a parlay bet is made on the Warriors point spread in their game against the Wizards, plus the Raptors point spread in their game against the Bulls, both the Warriors and the Raptors must cover their respective point spreads in order to be paid out on that wager. If one of the two teams do not cover their point spread, the wager is a loss.
An important note on parlay bets in NBA (as with other sports): most sportsbooks will not allow parlays that include correlated bets, such as parlaying a team’s ML with their team total.
Parlaying many games on the same night of NBA games is popular as a small bet amount can be converted into a massive win. You can combine your parlay bets on different sports and betting types and remember that the more games you parlay the higher return but it comes with a higher risk.
Player Props – Most commonly used by DFS players but is starting to grow rapidly in popularity in traditional sports betting. Player props for NBA can be everything from player X so score over or under Y amount of points, rebounds, assists, steals, amongst others. Some sportsbooks have a wider selection of prop bets than others and sportsbooks with a DFS background such as FanDuel and DraftKings tend to have a wider selection than the sportsbooks with a more traditional sports betting background.
Game Props – Along the same lines of player props, game props are bets which are event-based within the game itself.
…widely seen more as “fun” bets to make.
Examples of some NBA game propositions include the following:
|Team to Score First|
|Player to successfully make the first three pointer of the game|
|Will there be Overtime?|
Game props are very hard to predict and therefore seen more as “fun” bets to make. As sports betting grows and mature game props are likely to become more popular. Game props are usually offered as in-play betting options with very fast outcomes such as, next team to score, next foul and other events that are likely to occur within minutes of the game. As teams are entering into partnerships with sportsbooks the betting experience is moving into the arenas and giving the audience access to bet on game props as the game plays out.
Futures Bets – This wager type is one of the most popular. It allows the sports bettor to place a bet on an event or result that will happen in the future. For NBA betting on futures is even more common than it might be for other major sports. Examples on futures involves picking a result of the NBA season winner, what teams will make it to the final and a player to win the MVP player of the year. You can basically bet on anything that will happen at the end of the season. As long as there is something of value to bet on the sportsbooks will make sure there is a future bet on this event. Futures bets are most common before the season starts and can be made daily up through the entirely of the season – with odds changing daily based on the on-field results of the players and teams involved.
Arguably the most interesting and fun way to place sports bets. With in-play betting you place bets as the game unfolds and no other betting type has the same effect on enhancing a game watched in real time. Live betting ranges from very simple to complex wagering options. Bettors can for example wager on what the next basket will be – two-pointer or three-pointer, or who will score the next basket.
Live betting is widely considered as the most fun way to bet on sports.
The opportunities to live betting are endless. If you are watching a game in-stadium or in front of your TV this is the betting type you should pay most attention to. Pre-match bets are usually based on a statistics while in-play betting gives you the opportunity to see game trends and small details that will in the end have a deciding factor on the outcome of the game. Odds and lines adjust much faster for live betting than for pre-match bets as games events can quickly change the previously predicted game result.
Follow game trends, player news, injury reports, team scheduling (back-to-backs), and other elements is essential to endured sports betting success across all betting types in NBA. This is probably the best NBA betting strategy we recommend for everyone to follow.
Use statistics: In NBA the access to stats is unlimited. Very few sports offer the same range of data and this is something you should use to your advantage.
Follow a few teams closely: Sportsbooks are savvy and balance their lines and odds based on lots of data and resources but they can’t keep track of every single detail. By following a few teams closely you might be able to get the upper hand and outperform the sportsbooks.
Team totals and player prop wagers are probably on of the best ways to leverage sports betting with DFS play. Most NBA DFS players are looking for teams which will outperform their baseline expectation for a given game and will stack that team’s athletes (and in NBA, often the opposing team as well) in hopes of a game exceeding expectations and the player hitting a large score by exploiting increased correlation factors created by “stacking” a game. By augmenting your DFS team stacks with Team Total and Player Prop bets, you can capitalize on correct predictions about team production on a daily basis. A meaningful factor of being successful is capitalizing to the fullest extent when projections/predictions are accurate.
Following NBA Betting Trends and how the lines move. If a line has dramatically changed and you are not aware of the reason why we advise you to search for information to understand why this is happening. Usually, it has to do with an injury on a key player.
- Current NBA player Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder is the youngest of 18 children.
- Michael Jordan famously said that the best part of playing on the US Olympic team was learning all of the weaknesses of his teammates, so he could exploit them when they returned to the NBA.
- Shaquille O’Neal made one three-pointer in his career. His career mark stood at 1-for-22.
- David Stern fined Michael Jordan $5,000 per game for wearing his patented Air Jordan sneakers. Nike paid the fine on Jordan’s behalf.
How to Find NBA Odds at Betting Sites
All licensed and legal betting sites in the US will offer betting on the NBA. With NBA being on the of the most popular sports to bet on NBA or Basketball will have a unique section at every single sportsbook. These are usually found in the navigation bar either on top of the website or in the left side column of the website. Sports betting sites use various design layouts but are in general quite similar which makes them quite easy to navigate. Within Basketball you can select “NBA”, and from there can choose from the sportsbooks betting o