NBA basketball is one of the most popular sports for handicappers. Internationally, the sport continues to develop a stronger fan base and attract new bettors. As a result, every online sports betting site offers NBA betting.
How To Bet On NBA Basketball Games
The most popular ways to bet on NBA basketball are on the point spread, money line, and over/under. The point spread works the same as it does in football, where one team is given points and the other team has to give up points. Points can be bought as well, but of course you have to pay for them.
Futures bets for divisional, conference, and NBA champions can be placed at most online betting sites. These are fun bets to follow, and the odds can turn a small wager into a large win. Handicappers can also bet on first and second halves of NBA basketball games.
Most online sports betting sites offer a wide range of NBA prop bets, and some offer live betting as well. While props are fun bets to make, there are some things to look out for. Below you’ll find more detailed information about all of the most popular NBA bets that can be made.
NBA Point Spread Bets
Point spreads are used to even out the betting on two teams. Online betting sites want to make money on the vig (juice), not on losing bettors. So, to accomplish this, sports betting sites give points to underdogs, and take points from favorites. This encourages betting action on both sides. In an ideal world, the betting sites would receive 50% of the wagers on one team, and 50% on the opposing team. The site would take their vig, and everyone is happy.
From a handicappers standpoint, your job is to beat the spread. If your team has to give up 5 points, then they have to win by 6 or more in order for the bet to win. If they win by four points, your bet is lost. Here’s an example:
- Boston Celtics -3 (-110)
- Miami Heat +3 (-110)
In this common scenario, it takes a bet of $110 to win $100 in profit. The difference between the $110 wager and the $100 profit is $10, and this is the commission the betting sites make for taking the bet.
In the game above, the Boston Celtics would need to win the game by 4 or more points in order for their bets to win. For the Miami Heat, they could lose the game by 2, and their bets will still win. This is because they get 3 points added to their final score.
The point spread is the most popular way to bet on NBA basketball. However, some handicappers prefer the greater odds that can be found in money line bets.
<h3>NBA Money Line Bets</h3>
Money line bets are straight-up bets on who will win the game. Favorites are indicated with a negative (-) money line, while underdogs are indicated with a positive (+) money line. Both of them use $100 as the basis to calculate the payouts, but negative and positive money lines work a bit differently.
Negative money lines indicate the amount of money that would have to be wagered in order to make a $100 profit.
- Example: New York Knicks -170
In this case, it would take a bet of $170 to win $100 in profit, for a total payout of $270. Of course a wager of $170 isn’t required, this is simply the basis on which to calculate the odds. A bet of $17 would return $10 in profit.
As mentioned above, positive money lines indicate the underdog in a game. So, a smaller wager is required to win a larger payout.
- Example: San Antonio Spurs +150
In this case, a bet of $100 would return $150 in profit, for a total return of $250. A bet of $10 would return $15 in profit.
Over/Under NBA Betting
Over/under bets (also called ‘total bets’) are wagers based on the total number of points scored by both teams in a game. If the final score is 102-98, the total is 200. If it’s 95-85, the total is 180. Online sports betting sites predict the number of points that will be scored in a game, and all a handicapper does is decide if that number is too high or too low. If he thinks it’s too high, he would bet the under. If he thinks it’s too low, he’d bet the over.
It’s not uncommon to see over/under odds with a half-point, like 198.5. In this case, there are no pushes because the teams cannot score half of a point.
Most betting sites charge 10% juice on over/under bets. So, you’ll generally see odds like this: 198 (-110). Sometimes you’ll see the over at -105 and the under at -115, or vice versa. This is usually because the site is receiving more bets on one side, so they’re trying to encourage betting on the other side by giving -105.
NBA Prop Betting
Prop bets are wagers that can’t be put into any of the other standard betting categories. Some are based on single events in a game, and others can get quite bizarre. In general, prop bets are designed to give handicappers fun bets to follow during a game.
Most online nba betting sites offer a variety of NBA team and player props. Prop bets are fun, but some betting sites ask for too much vig. Always shop several sportsbooks for the best odds and vig. Some typical NBA prop bets include:
- First team to score.
- Over/under on how many points a team will score in the first quarter.
- Over/under on how many points a certain player will score.
- Will player X or player Y score more points?
- Over/under on player X accruing XX points and assists combined.
- Seasonal props on who will grab the most rebounds, assists, etc..
NBA Futures Bets
Futures bets are wagers that can be placed well before a season starts, and in the NBA these bets can be placed on who will win each division, conference, and the NBA title. They’re fun bets to make, especially if you’re betting on your favorite team (and they’re good). However, never place a futures bet on your team simply because they’re your team. If you don’t think they’ll win, don’t bet on them. One of the most common mistakes bettors make is allowing their heart make their bets. This is a losing proposition.
Some betting sites cut off their futures bets when the season begins. Others keep them going and adjust the odds as the season goes along. Of course, as teams begin to rise or fall in the standings, the odds change to reflect this. If you’re picking an underdog to win their division or conference, place your bet before the season begins. If you’re pick is correct, you’ll get better odds before they start winning games and other people bet on them too. If you have a dog you like but aren’t sure about, wait until the season begins and you see them play a few times. If they look as good as you’re hoping they will, get your futures bets in quick. If they don’t you, either wait for them to improve, or skip this bet entirely.
NBA Basketball Parlay Betting
Parlay bets are wagers where multiple teams are chosen to win, and combined onto a single wager. For a parlay bet to win, every team on the ticket must win their game. If any of them lose, the entire parlay is lost. The reason people love to bet parlays are for the increased odds they’re given.
Parlay betting is a lot of fun because it gives bettors the chance to turn a small wager into a big profit. However, parlay bets with a lot of teams on them are very difficult to win. So, we recommend that handicappers keep their parlays down to 2-4 teams per ticket. You’ll win more often and keep your bankroll healthy. Also, serious handicappers should limit their parlay bets to a maximum of .5% – 1% of your bankroll.
At most sports betting sites, at least 8 teams can be put onto a single parlay ticket. At some, up to 15 teams can be parlayed. Different sports can be combined onto a single parlay as well. For example, if you want to parlay an NBA game and an NFL game, you can do that.
NBA Teaser Bets
Teaser bets are similar to parlays, except these give you the ability to move the point spread in your favor. A minimum of two teams must be chosen, and the spread can be moved 4, 4.5, or 5 points. Like a parlay, every team on the ticket must win, or the entire bet is lost.
The downside to a teaser bet is the reduced odds you’ll get versus a parlay, However, you’ll win teasers more often, and the odds are still quite good.
NBA Basketball Online Betting Tips
Pay attention to home & away records. We’re generally looking for underdogs that play well on the road, rather than favorites playing at home. Sometimes good value on the road team can be found on the moneyline. When you find a dog you like on the road, check every online betting site for the best odds. When you’re going for a big win, it’s important to get every drop you can.
Check ATS (against the spread) stats on each team. This can be an awakening for new handicappers who can’t understand why they always lose on a team when they’re at home.
Stay away from overvalued teams. Top teams who are expected to win every night often lose against the spread over the length of a season. Linesmakers and handicappers give these teams too much credit, pushing the line too far in their favor. Instead, look for valuable lines against these teams.
Keep tabs with injuries and resting players. Even if Kobe is playing tonight, his minutes might be down. For example, if the Lakers are coming off of 2 hard games in the last 3 days, it’s likely he’ll get fewer minutes tonight. It’s not just about well-publicized injuries, it’s also about following players who are likely to be getting a night off, or fewer minutes.