Not only is the NBA one of the country’s most popular sports to watch, it’s also one of USA’s favorite sports to bet on.
Our NBA betting guide covers:
NBA point spread bets involve placing a wager on which team you think will win the game and the points margin by which they’ll win. Simply put, the ‘point spread’ is the number of points by which the favorite team is expected to win.
These point spreads are set by the sportsbook, and will likely vary slightly from site-to-site. Bookmakers use the point spread as a way of leveling out the chances of either team winning the game by providing an advantage or disadvantage based on the margin of victory or defeat for a given team. As such, you’ll see much more even odds in point spread NBA betting than you will in moneyline betting.
For a bet on the favorite to pay out as a winner, that team must win the game, and do so by more than the amount by which they were favored. This is known as “covering the spread”.
The Lakers are the favorites, hosting the Warriors. The bookmaker expects the Lakers to win by 8 points or more. This would be styled as such:
The (-) signifies the game’s favorite, while the (+) signals the underdog. The (8.5) is the point spread; the amount by which bookmakers expect the Lakers to win.
In this example, if you were to wager on the Lakers spread, you would need them to win by more than 8.5 points (i.e. by 9 points or more) in order for your bet to pay out.
Conversely, a wager on the Warriors would pay out if the team either won the game outright, or lost by 8.5 points or less (i.e. by 8 points or less.)
If the Lakers won the game 110-108, the Warriors would “cover the spread” because even though they lost, they did so by fewer than 8.5 points.
In NBA moneyline bet is a type of bet that provides betting odds focused on who will win the game, regardless of how many points. The more uneven the game, the larger the discrepancy in odds will be.
With moneyline NBA betting, a minus sign (-) in front of the odds indicates the favorite and the number listed shows how much money you must wager to win $100.
A positive sign (+) in front of the odds indicates the underdog and the number show how much money you will win for a $100 wager.
The more uneven the contest, the bigger the numbers you’ll see. It is rare, but sometimes if the matchup is too extreme or one-sided, a book will take the Moneyline option off the board.
The LA Lakers have odds of -250 on the moneyline against the New York Knicks, while the Knicks are +200 against the Lakers. Again: the (-) signals the favorite, the (+) signals the underdog.
In this example, a $100 wager on the Lakers would pay a profit of $40 if they won, while a $100 wager on the Knicks would return a profit of $200 if they won. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.
For more on how to read odds, you can always check our guide to sports betting.
The total in an NBA game is a wager on the final combined score of both teams. Like a point spread, this amount is determined by the bookmaker based on matchup, past performance, team averages, etc.
As a bettor, you must choose whether you think the score will be more (“over) than the set total, or less (the “under”).
The Lakers play the Knicks, and the total is set at 199.5. This type of wager would typically be listed as such:
Lakers v Knicks (Totals)
Again, the numbers in brackets signal the odds of each wager. In this instance, both wagers are set at -110, indicating an even bet.
The Lakers win with a final score of 110-100. This is a total combined score of 210 (110 + 100), which means the over would pay out (210 > 199.5).
In recent years, online sportsbooks have begun offering a wide selection of LIVE NBA betting, wherein you can bet on basketball games once they have begun.
Generally, multiple live bet types are available, with sportsbooks offering spreads, totals, & moneyline wagers with odds that change along with the game.
It’s halfway through the second quarter, and the Lakers are leading the Warriors 20-10. Leading up to the game, the oddsmakers had the Warriors as heavy favorites, meaning they were expected to win and were offering a low payout.
However, now that the Lakers are up by ten points, they have become the heavy favourite. With live betting, bettors can wager on the Warriors with live odds that will be adjusted to reflect a higher payout.
A parlay bet is a single wager placed on the outcome of multiple events. In a parlay, all connected bets must win in order for your wager to pay out. This is a great way to increase the odds – and a bettor’s potential payout – but beware that the risk is much higher when combining bets.
Depending on the sportsbook, parlays can typically include multiple bet types, whether that’s moneyline, point spreads, over/unders, or more.
Note that there are typically requirements that prevent bettors from placing a parlay made up of similar bets – for example, a bettor would not be allowed to combine the Lakers spread and the Lakers moneyline.
The Lakers are playing the Knicks, and the Warriors are playing the Bulls. You place a parlay bet on the Lakers moneyline and the Warriors moneyline.
In this instance, your wager would pay out only if both the Lakers and the Warriors win their games. If they do, your payout would be your wager size, multiplied by the Lakers odds, multiplied by the Warriors odds.
If any event in your parlay loses, your entire wager loges.
Thanks to futures, NBA gurus can put their money where their mouths are with respect to their long-term predictions. NBA futures bets allow bettors to wager on topics like who will win the Finals, who the MVP will be, and many more.
These types of wagers are generally open in the pre-season and throughout the year. As you’d expect, the payout odds correspond with the likelihood of an event occurring.
For example, it’s unlikely that Russell Westbrook is going to be this year’s MVP, so his payout odds on the NBA 2020 MVP futures bet would be quite high. Giannis Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, was having a strong 2020 campaign, and has a solid chance of winning this year’s MVP. His odds – and payout – would be much lower.
Typically, in NBA betting, a prop bet involves betting on the performance of an individual team (which team will score first?) or player (will LeBron have over or under 25.5 points?) in a game or season.
However, prop bets are exceedingly popular because they run the gamut from ‘normal’ bets to the truly bizarre.
Just about anything that can happen in or around an NBA game can be turned into a prop bet. Props are particularly popular during the Finals, when bettors can wager on things like the length of the pre-game national anthem, or the color of the gatorade that will be poured on the winning coach.
Note that prop availability varies widely by sport and by sportsbook, so we’d recommend doing your homework using our sportsbook reviews if you want to place these types of bets.
The standard for NBA prop bets link to the performance of individual players in a given game: How many total points will LeBron have? Which player will have more rebounds? How many threes will Steph Curry hit?
Another popular way to bet props are NBA team props. These focus on team performance: how many total games will the Raptors win? Which team will score first? Which team will be the first to score 20 points?
Again, props on the NBA draft are pretty straightforward. These props involve which NCAA and NBA G-league players will be selected to which team, the order of draft picks and even what players will wear, drink or say during the televised draft.
Simply put, NBA playoff and championship props are placed during playoffs and finals, and typically focus on things like which team will win, what scores will be, and often includes other props like over/unders, (which team will have a higher or lower score), and moneylines on the entire championship.
Now, All-Star weekend props are where it gets really fun—These props range from the most prominent celebrity presence, to over/unders, winner and total scores from the All-Star weekend events like the skills challenge, three-point content, slam dunk content and the actual All-Star NBA game.
Try to find the best NBA betting lines when possible. Some sportsbooks offer lines that deviate from the masses to differentiate themselves from the competition—Use this to your advantage. Check out sportsbook reviews to learn more, too.
Don’t be afraid to bet on the favorite. Unlike other professional sports, teams that are heavy favorites in the NBA almost always come through. You won’t always like the odds you’re offered, but if you like a matchup, you should consider laying some real money on it.
Three games in four nights matters—When it comes to NBA betting online, be sure to note the team’s schedule that week. The NBA schedule is grueling and teams playing three games in four nights are often at a major disadvantage no matter where they’re playing.
Ready to start playing for money? Check out our favorite real money sportsbooks.
When a team has a spread with a minus sign (‘Los Angeles Lakers -7’ for example), it indicates that the team is the favorite to win the game and must win the game by seven points or more to cover the spread. With a point-spread line of +7, the Los Angeles Lakers would need to win straight up or lose by seven points or less to cover the spread and cash the bet.
There are a wide variety of ways to bet on the NBA, the first thing you to do is find an online sportsbook and set up an account. The next thing you want to look for are these bets available. The three most popular bets are the spread, Moneyline, and totals. These bets can be broken down into quarters and 1st half and 2nd half lines as well.
Yes, for the most part. In states that have proceeded with legislation to legalize sports betting, the NBA is a major fixture of their betting offering. The list of states includes Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, among others. But not all casinos and sportsbooks can offer NBA online betting or even brick-and-mortar NBA wagering. The Golden Nugget Casino in New Jersey cannot accept wagers on NBA basketball because its owner, Tillman Fertitta, also owns the Houston Rockets. We should point out that no one has ever been arrested for gambling on the NBA (that wasn’t employed by the NBA while gambling). No sports bettor should have any worries about placing online NBA bets with a reputable sportsbook.
The straight Moneyline play is the simplest, as it rewards bettors for selecting the winning team; of course, the more favored the team, the lower the payout is. For that reason, some sports bettors prefer the points spread play, in which the favored team “gives away” a certain number of points to its opponent to even out the chances of a successful bet on either side. The other most popular way to bet on NBA basketball is totals wagers, in which sports gamblers bet on whether they believe the teams will combine to score more or fewer points than the bookmakers total. This one is popular due to the simplicity of it: Either go above or below the number.
While it might seem unsatisfying for your wager to end in a tie, it is better than losing real money. Let’s say you take Golden State -7, and the Warriors go on to win the game by exactly seven points. You don’t win the bet, but you don’t lose, either. The bet is simply returned to you.