NBA Betting Guide

Our guide to betting on the NBA championship covering NBA odds, NBA betting tips and strategies, as well as answers to common questions.

The NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. Basketball is mostly popularised in the US but has many fans around the globe. Throughout this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about betting on the NBA as well as giving tips to make your betting experiences more profitable.

NBA Betting Explained

NBA betting is a very lucrative market in the basketball betting world. Placing bets on NBA games should be a very simple process but being successful is far from that. Betting on the NBA is like betting on any other sports market where you will be able to bet on the winners of matches as well as specific things that can occur inside a match and within a season.

The odds in these matches will be determined by the bookmakers you are betting with. The overall odds will reflect the chances of the NBA team winning the match or the player to score a number of points for example. Odds will be affected by things such as the difference in quality between the two teams, the form, injuries to key players and so much more.

betting odd formats
Common betting odd formats.

Types of NBA Bets

Like all forms of betting in the modern era, punters have a variety of bets to choose from and this list below should help you decide which one appeals more to your betting methods.

Single bets

Single bets are the simplest type of NBA bet. When you place a single bet all you will be doing is backing one team to win the match outright. To calculate the money you will be returning from single bets you need to work out how to read Moneyline odds that we will go into further in this article.

Moneyline bets (Straight-up bets)

With Moneyline bets, you are betting on which team will win the match outright. For example, if you were to bet on the Milwaukee Bucks to win at -70, you will need to place a bet of $100 in order to make a profit of $70. If the team in question has a + sign after their name, this number will indicate how much money you would win from a stake of $100.

Spread bets

Spread bets are used when teams in the NBA are not evenly matched. You may consider placing money on one of these spread bets if you think one team is going to do better or worse than the bookies expect.

For example, if the LA Lakers were +17.5 they would have to win outright or lose by 17 or points or less in order to win this bet. If an NBA team has a - sign before the odds the opposite would have to occur.

Total bets

Total bets are when you wager on if the total score is going to be over or under a selected number. For example, if you were to place a bet on Over 225, you would need there to be 226 points or more scored in that game.

If you were to place a bet of Under 225, there will need to be 224 points scored or less in order for you to win your bet. The number selected will usually be regarded by bookmakers as having a 50/50 chance of occurring. While the concept seems complex, you can find certain totals have attractive prices vs spread bets. On the subject of moneyline vs totals, moneyline bets are easier to understand.


parlay bet is any bet that involves wagering on the outcome of more than one event or proposition. This bet could apply to must be spread over multiple games. However, there are sportsbook that offers same game parlays where you can add multiple legs within the same game.

In order to win a parlay bet all of your selections will have to be successful. The money accumulates from one bet to another so if a parlay bet is successful you will see more return than you would have done if you placed individual single bets.

It is important to note that all wagers or legs to a parlay slip usually come from markets in different

Exotic bets

Exotic bets once again are almost exclusively a feature of US bookmakers. They are more likely to be offered on significant matches like the NBA playoffs. With exotic bets, you can bet on things such as will there be a TV proposal in the crowd and whether the price of Bitcoin will go up or down during the duration of the game.

Player prop bets

Player prop bets can range significantly depending on which bookmaker you are using. A typical example of one would be how many points a player will score in a particular game. For example, you can bet on if Lebron James will score over or under 24.5 in his next game in the NBA.

Game prop bets

Game prop bets work in the same fashion as player prop bets. As the name suggests these bets will focus on what happens in the game in general. An example of a game prop bet will be for the New York Knicks to score 20 points or more in the first quarter.

Long-term bets

The most popular long term bets involve predicting what will occur throughout an entire season. For example it is possible to predict on which teams will win the league, which teams will reach the playoffs and even which payer will be crowned as the most valuable players.

In-play NBA bets

In-play betting in the NBA can lead to good opportunities for betters if an effective strategy is in place. With in-play betting, you can place bets on the NBA while the game is in play. This way you can receive odds that are higher than what they were before the game as well as watching how the game plays out so you can make more informed decisions.

Types of NBA Bets
Types of NBA Bets

How NBA Betting Odds Work

When looking at odds for NBA games you should in theory be looking at the chances of a particular event to occur. For example, if your bet is set to return a profit of $300 from a $100 stake then this would suggest the likelihood of this outcome to occur is somewhere close to being one in four times.

The job of the gambler though is recognizing if the odds they are seeing represent good value. If you believe a bookmaker has underestimated the value of a bet then this should be the type of bet you are looking for.

Reading Moneyline Odds

Reading Moneyline Odds is simple. If you see a + sign before the team name this will mean that team is an underdog. If you see a - sign before the team name this will mean that they are the favorite.

Example: If the Boston Celtics were +170, this number indicates how much money you would win from a stake of $100. Meanwhile, if the LA Lakers were -200, this number indicates how much money you need to stake to win $100.

How Do American Moneyline Odds Work
How Do American Moneyline Odds Work

Effective NBA Betting Strategy

When looking to make money from betting on the NBA you will need to have an effective NBA Betting Strategy. These theories would be based on the knowledge you have of the game as well as a fundamental understanding of how betting markets function.

Power Rankings of the Teams

Power rankings aren't commonly used outside the US sports. The idea of the structure is to give an idea of who is currently in form.

For example, a team might be top of the league but have lost their last few games and look like they may continue to slide. It might be worth looking at these rankings before placing a bet as power rankings will give you more of an indication of how a team is performing. A quick glimpse of a league table will also give you an indication of one's team superiority over another but it doesn't tell the full story.

Home-Court Advantage

Home-Court Advantage refers to the advantage a team has when they play at home. This could be for numerous reasons. Familiarity with their surroundings, support from the fans or it can be purely psychological.

There are always exceptions but over the years, NBA sides and most sports in general for the matter will have a better record playing at home than they would have playing away based on the entirety of a season.

Situational Factors

Another thing to consider is any situational factors that can have a significant impact on the outcome of the game. One example of this would be a match where one team is almost certain to make the playoffs while the other team is trying to bounce back from a heavy defeat. First impressions will show that one team should be considered heavy favourites but factors like this can have a huge effect on any game.

NBA Betting Consensus

The NBA betting consensus is the percentage of where sports bettors place their money. This helps explain why certain NBA odds and point spreads fluctuate. The numbers are provided from oddsmakers as they happen, meaning the public has the option of seeing what they are betting on before making their own wager.

Gameday Injuries

Gameday injuries can affect the odds of a selected match significantly. This will be dependent on the importance of the player who is injured. If a team's star player gets injured in the warm-up the whole landscape of the game can change.

Rumors & Hypes

injuries and rumors of injuries are two very different things... rumors can turn out to be true so only follow trusted sources who have a good track record of breaking gameday news very early.

In this modern age it is especially easy to get hold of misinformed information so while it is great trying to stay one step ahead of the game you should only act on the information if you have very good reason to believe it's true.


One thing that often gets overlooked by sports gamblers is what is at stake for the teams who are playing. One team might be superior but if the other team is trying to make the playoffs while the other team has already qualified this is likely to have a huge effect on how the game will play out.

It is not uncommon to see results that are considered shocks at the end of the season so bear all of this in mind when placing a bet.

7 Golden NBA Betting Tips

Here are 7 tips that you should consider factoring into your decision-making when betting on the NBA.

Tip 1 - Make Data-Driven Decisions

Gamblers can find it very hard to separate instinct from cold hard data. We are not telling you to disregard what your mind is telling you but overall it is always good to back up your reasoning for a bet with statistical data. This can be especially useful when placing total bets for example. If the data suggests that this will be a high-scoring game and you have found favorable odds then you should calculate how likely it is that this will be a winning bet in the long run.

Tip 2 - Follow Trustworthy Gameday Sources

In 2021 it is very easy to be lured into false rumours that can be found on all forms of social media and believe that you should take a punt based on the information you are hearing. Unfortunately, not all of these rumours are based on actual true events.

Having said this by the time a mainstream media outlet report news bookmakers would have already adjusted their odds accordingly. For this reason, we recommend you follow journalists on Twitter or any other outlet who are proven to be trustworthy so when they break the news before a mainstream media outlet you can be one step ahead of everyone else!

Tip 3 - Pay Attention To Form

Form is everything in sport. If you were to learn everything you believe you need to know from glancing at a league table online you will be making a big mistake. For example, a team might be mid-table but what that doesn't tell you is that a month ago they hired a new manager and they are now a completely different proposition.

Therefore look into how they are playing and the mood surrounding each club. For some clubs, it can be that a demise feels inevitable while for other teams it feels as if they are about to go on a great run.

Tip 4 - Don't Bet With Your Heart

If you are a genuine fan of the NBA it is likely that you follow a team or at the very least want to see an underdog win a particular match. If this is you you should avoid betting with your heart at all costs as this will ultimately affect your win conversion rate.

Tip 5 - Some Teams Play Better Against Teams With Certain Playing Styles

If you follow any team in sport you will know that there are always certain teams that despite being inferior to the team you support always give a good showing. This is most likely to be because certain teams are more suited to play against particular playing styles. One obvious example of this is that inferior teams can play in a more conservative way to make up for their deficiencies.

The opposition team could then find it hard to break down their opponents as they are playing against a system they are not familiar with. If your knowledge of the NBA leads you to suspect a game might go this way you should consider placing a spread bet to give your match prediction more insurance.

Tip 6 - Place Bets After You Have Seen The First Quarter

Technically this can be applied to betting at any stage of the match while the game is in play. After you have seen the match play out for a little while you might be able to pick up on some things that might make you consider placing a bet that didn't look so profitable before the game had started. For example, if a team was playing with little fluency and the odds were much the same before you kick off you might now realize that betting on the opposition now represents much better value.

Tip 7 - Join Multiple NBA Betting Sites

When betting you should always be looking to maximize your profits. This will be achieved primarily by selecting odds that represent good value. Therefore joining multiple NBA betting sites will allow you to place bets where you are receiving better value. This applies to all forms of betting. If another site is offering higher odds you should always bet on those odds. This will affect your long-term earnings tremendously.

Bankroll Management

Having good bankroll management is something that is applicable to all forms of gambling. When placing bets there will come a time when you win a lot more than you statistically should and lose a lot more than you statistically should. Good bankroll management will protect you from these volatile swings.

Firstly you will need to implement a strategy that suits your strategy of betting. Most bankroll management strategies will factor in the odds you are betting with and will indicate what percentage of your bankroll you should bet with. An example of this would be that you need to bet 5% of your bankroll if the odds or 1.5 are lower and only 2% of your bankroll if the odds or even or above. The odds you place bets with on a consistent basis will have a huge effect on your calculations.

NBA Betting - FAQ

Answers to the most common questions about betting on the NBA.

Is NBA betting rigged?

Any sporting event which is placed on the betting markets will always be subject to corruption. NBA athletes however are extremely well paid and there are organizations in place that attempt to make the likelihood of rigged games in the NBA extremely unlikely.

What are "picks" in NBA betting?

NBA picks refer to professional betters giving amateur betters their selections for the games ahead. Knowing which ones are worth following requires due diligence. If you ever pay money for a service you should only do so with sufficient proof that the tips you are paying for comes from a proven winning player.

How to find the best NBA betting odds?

To find the best NBA betting odds you will need to use some free service like Oddschecker. With Oddschecker you will get to see the odds offered for NBA games across several bookmakers. Some bookmakers will continually provide the best odds but there will always be exceptions when that isn't the case so we recommend you have a good number of bookmakers available to you.

What are the most profitable NBA betting systems?

When betting on the NBA you will need to find a good betting system if you wish to make money in the long run. You should focus on a betting system that factors in data-driven decisions as well as practice bankroll management to allow for the swings that betting throws up.

How do bookmakers come up with NBA betting totals?

Betting totals factor in the average amount of points both teams score on average coupled with how both teams are likely to play against each other. Team news will also have an impact on what the eventual number will be along with any other situational factors.

If you live in a jurisdiction where betting is legal, including online betting then NBA is perfectly legal. There is nothing that separates the NBA and other sports when it comes to the legality of betting so you will need to research if betting is legal in the area in which you reside.

How big is the NBA betting industry?

The United States has one of the biggest betting markets in the world. The NBA makes up for a large percentage of this betting activity along with the NFL and the MLB.

What to look for when betting on the NBA?

When betting on the NBA, you should be looking to bet on odds that represent good value. This remains the case for all forms of betting and will ultimately have the biggest impact on your potential profit.

Pay consideration to the teams you are betting on as well as their current form and any other situational factors which can influence the likelihood of the outcome of the match.

How to read NBA betting spreads?

Reading spread bets on the NBA is easy. If a team has a plus sign after a spread bet then this is the amount the team can lose by and still return a winning bet. For example, if the LA Lakers were +17.5, any result better than losing by 17 points will result in a successful bet. If there is a - sign after the teams then the opposite would have to occur.

If you are a fan of the NBA and like to gamble it only makes sense that you should look at combining the two. Entwine your knowledge of the sport with a good NBA betting strategy to help you win money while betting on professional basketball.