How to Bet on the NBA

The NBA regular season is a grind, with 30 teams, an 82-game season and a two-month postseason. The current season started in October but won’t finish till next April. Then come the playoffs, which will continue through June 2022.

With so much action over so long a period, predicting outcomes—and making bets based on those predictions—can be tough.

But you can still get an edge, if you understand how to bet on the sport. Here are a few tips on how to effectively bet on basketball.

NBA Single-Game Bet Types

Betting NBA Point Spreads

Portland Trail Blazers              +3.5
Memphis Grizzlies                -3.5

 

In spread bets, a team must cover the listed margin. Negative numbers indicate the favored team. For example, if the spread is listed as Grizzlies -3.5, Memphis must win the game by at least 4 points in order to cover the spread. Conversely, if the line is listed as Trail Blazers +3.5, Portland must lose by 3 or fewer points, or win the game outright, in order to cover the spread. If the Grizzlies were listed at -4 and won by 4 points, it would be a push.

Betting NBA Moneylines

Miami Heat              +170
Utah Jazz                -200

 

When betting the moneyline, you’re betting on the side to win the game, regardless of the final score or margin. A negative moneyline denotes the favored side. A positive moneyline denotes the underdog. You may calculate your potential return before placing a moneyline bet by using the following guidelines:

Favorites: The amount of money you must bet in order to return $100 on a successful bet. Example: Jazz -200: a $200 bet will return $100 if Utah wins.

Underdogs: The amount of money you will win if your $100 bet is successful. Example, Heat +150: a $100 bet will return $150 if Miami wins.


BetQL projects team performance, factoring in player performance, matchups, weather and injuries. From there, it sets own lines. Check out the BetQL model today.


Betting NBA Totals (Over/Unders)

Milwaukee Bucks                   —
Indiana Pacers                U 223.5


Total bets are won and lost depending on the total number of points scored by the two teams combined. An Under bet is successful when the two teams combine to score fewer than the listed number of points and an Over bet is successful when the two teams combine to score more than the listed number of points.

Example: Bucks vs. Pacers O/U 223.5. The Under is successful if the two teams score 223 or fewer combined points. The Over is successful if the two teams score 224 or more combined points. If the O/U is a whole number, the bet is a push if the two teams score exactly that amount.

Betting Single Half Lines

Washington Wizards              +1.5
New York Knicks                -1.5

 

Single half bets may be offered as spread, moneyline or total bets. Single half bet definitions are identical to their full-game counterparts, with the caveat that single half bets are graded after one half of action.

Example: Let’s say the Wizards are +1.5 and the Knicks are -1.5. If the Knicks are leading the game at halftime by two or more points in this example, they’d win the bet.


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NBA Multiple-Game Bet Types

Parlay Bets

Using parlays, you can combine multiple individual bets in order to increase your potential return. In order for a parlay bet to be successful, each individual bet must hit. If any single component is unsuccessful, the entire parlay will be graded as a loss. This style of betting appeals to bettors who eye exponentially-larger payouts, but have much lower odds of winning.

Example: You place the following parlay bet: Celtics -6.5 (-120) + Nets -4.5 (-112) + Bucks -8.5 (-110). If the Celtics don’t win by seven or more points, the Nets don’t win by five or more points and the Bucks don’t win by nine or more points, you won’t win the bet. To win, all three outcomes need to occur.

Teaser Bets

A teaser is a type of parlay that has a line that is more favorable to the bettor, at the cost of a lower potential payout when the bet is successful.

Example: In the example above, the sportsbook might give a three-point teaser to the favorites to make the bet more appealing and decrease their risk of a large payout. Therefore, the teaser would look like this: Celtics -3.5 + Nets -0.5 + Bucks -5.5 with the same odds. While the upside of placing that bet doesn’t compare to a traditional parlay, the odds of it hitting are higher, thus creating more safety.


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Other NBA Bet Types

Futures Bets

A futures bet refers to any bet that will be settled in the future.

Examples: team accolades (championship winners, etc), player accolades (MVP, etc) and over/unders (team win totals, player statistics, etc).

Prop Bets

A prop, or “proposition,” is a bet made regarding the occurrence or non-occurrence of a given event during a game. Sportsbooks attach moneyline odds to these bets and they can be settled before the game goes final.

Examples: a player to score more than 19.5 points (-110) or more than 29.5 points + rebounds + assists for a given player (+150).

Live Betting

Live betting takes place after the game has started and features in-game props and other bet types. This style of betting features the quickest payouts in the industry and puts bettors right in the action.


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2022 NBA FINALS ODDS*

ODDS TO WIN 2022 NBA FINALS
Team Odds
Brooklyn Nets +260
Golden State Warriors +600
Milwaukee Bucks +700
Los Angeles Lakers +900
Utah Jazz +1000
Miami Heat +1200
Phoenix Suns +1400
Los Angeles Clippers +1800
Philadelphia 76ers +1800
Denver Nuggets +2200
Chicago Bulls +3000
Atlanta Hawks +4000
Dallas Mavericks +4000
Boston Celtics +6600
Memphis Grizzlies +8000
Portland Trail Blazers +8000
New York Knicks +10000
Washington Wizards +12500
Charlotte Hornets +15000
Indiana Pacers +15000
Toronto Raptors +15000
Minnesota Timberwolves +20000
Cleveland Cavaliers +25000
New Orleans Pelicans +25000
Sacramento Kings +25000
San Antonio Spurs +50000
Detroit Pistons +75000
Houston Rockets +75000
Oklahoma City Thunder +75000
Orlando Magic +75000

Odds from BetMGM, subject to change

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History Playbook

On This Day In Sports History

February 20, 1988 — South Carolina blows a 14-point lead and loses 98-88 to Louisville in double overtime at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia.

On This Day In Sports History

February 21, 1993 — The West outlasts the East 135-132 in the NBA All-Star Game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. Michael Jordan (Bulls) is the leading scorer with 30 points for the East.