NBA Betting – The Basics

Betting on the NBA can be an exhilarating and potentially lucrative endeavor, but it requires a solid understanding of the various factors that influence game outcomes. From player statistics and in-depth analytics to prevailing trends and home-court advantage, there is a wealth of information to digest and analyze. 

Even for the most ardent NBA fans, keeping up with the ever-changing dynamics of the league can be challenging. In this article, we aim to demystify the world of NBA betting by providing you with essential knowledge and strategies applicable to various sports and leagues, equipping you with the tools needed to make well-informed wagers and increase your chances of consistent success. Let’s dive in!


The National Basketball Association (NBA) stands as the premier professional basketball league in the world, featuring teams from the United States and Canada. Founded in 1946, the NBA has a storied history and rich cultural impact. The league comprises 30 teams, each playing 82 games during the regular season, followed by a postseason featuring the top eight teams from both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

The playoffs consist of a series of intense, hard-fought battles, culminating in the NBA Finals, which determine the ultimate champions. As one of the most widely followed sports leagues globally, the NBA attracts players from various countries, making it an incredibly diverse and competitive arena for professional basketball. This international talent pool has only served to further elevate the level of play and excitement surrounding the league.

NBA Betting Markets

Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets focus on predicting the outright winner of a game, without considering the point spread. Sportsbooks set odds for each team, with favorites having negative odds and underdogs having positive odds. For example:

Los Angeles Lakers: -134

Miami Heat: +115

A $134 bet on the Lakers would potentially win $100, while a $100 bet on the Heat would potentially win $115. Moneyline bets are straightforward and are great for beginners or those looking for a simple wager.

Point Spread Bets

Point spread bets are more complex, as they involve predicting which team will cover a predetermined point spread. Oddsmakers establish this spread to create a more even betting field, taking into account the perceived difference in the teams’ abilities. 

If the Orlando Magic (-6.5) face the Boston Celtics (+6.5), and you bet on Orlando to cover, they must win by at least 7 points for your bet to be successful. Conversely, if you bet on Boston, they can either win or lose by no more than 6 points for your bet to win.

Totals Bets

Totals bets, also known as over/under bets, require predicting whether the combined score of both teams will be over or under a specific amount set by oddsmakers. 

If the over/under is set at 225.5 for a Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns game, an “over” bet requires a combined score of 226 or more, while an “under” bet requires a combined score of 225 or less. Totals bets allow bettors to focus on the overall game flow and scoring trends without having to pick a specific winner.

Prop Bets

Proposition bets, or prop bets, focus on specific events within a game, rather than the game’s outcome. There are three main types of prop bets:

Player Props: These bets involve predicting the performance of individual players, such as points scored, rebounds, or assists. For example, you can bet on whether LeBron James will score over or under 25.5 points in a game.

Game Props: These bets usually involve predicting specific events or milestones within a game, such as the first team to reach a certain number of points, the correct score at halftime, or which team will win the opening tip-off.

Team Props: These bets involve predictions about a team’s performance, such as total first-half points, whether the team’s final score will be odd or even, or how many three-pointers a team will make.

These bets add excitement to NBA betting, as they allow for more nuanced predictions and can create additional engagement throughout the game.


Parlays involve combining multiple individual wagers into a single bet, with the potential for higher returns if all wagers are successful. However, if any of the wagers fail, the entire parlay is lost. Parlays can include various bet types, such as moneyline, point spread, and totals bets. For example, a three-game parlay might include the following bets:

  • Dallas Mavericks +4 vs. San Antonio Spurs
  • Washington Wizards – 5.5 vs. Orlando Magic

If all three of these wagers are successful, then you would win your parlay and stand to make significantly more money than if you had just placed each bet separately. Parlays offer greater risk and reward, adding excitement and potential for higher returns to NBA betting markets.


Futures bets involve long-term predictions on events or outcomes that will occur during a season or entire series. Unlike other bet types, which focus on individual games or performances, futures bets allow bettors to speculate on broader aspects of the league. Some popular NBA futures bets include:

Championship Winner: Predicting which team will win the NBA Finals and be crowned as the season’s champions.

Conference Champions: Predicting which teams will win the Eastern and Western Conference titles and advance to the NBA Finals.

Division Winners: Predicting which teams will finish first in their respective divisions at the end of the regular season.

Playoff Teams: Predicting which teams will secure a spot in the postseason playoffs.

Season MVP: Predicting which player will be awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the season.

Rookie of the Year: Predicting which first-year player will be recognized as the league’s top rookie.

These bets offer higher payouts due to the increased difficulty and long-term nature of the wager. Since there are numerous potential outcomes and many variables at play, futures bets can be more challenging to predict accurately. However, they provide bettors with the opportunity to showcase their knowledge of the league and its players and potentially reap substantial rewards for their foresight.

In summary, there is a wide variety of betting markets available for NBA fans, ranging from simple moneyline bets to more complex parlays and futures wagers. By understanding the different types of bets and incorporating thoughtful strategies, bettors can increase their chances of success and make the experience of watching NBA games even more exciting and engaging.

NBA Betting Strategies

To increase your chances of success when betting on the NBA, consider employing the following strategies:

Study Statistics and Trends: Familiarize yourself with team and player statistics, head-to-head records, home and away performances, and other relevant data. Analyzing this information can help you make more informed decisions when placing bets.

Consistency: Focus on consistently picking winners over the long term rather than trying to win big with every bet. Avoid making impulsive wagers based on emotions or chasing losses.

Bankroll Management: One of the most critical aspects of a successful betting strategy is proper bankroll management. Only bet what you can afford to lose and avoid chasing losses. Set aside a specific amount for betting and stick to that budget.

Shop for the Best Lines: Different sportsbooks offer varying odds on the same games. Before placing a bet, compare the odds across multiple sportsbooks to ensure you get the best value for your wager.

Look for Bonuses: Many sportsbooks offer bonuses and promotions, such as free bets, risk-free bets, deposit bonuses, and cashback offers. These promotions can help you get better value for your bets and boost your bankroll, giving you more opportunities to wager and potentially win.

Consider Betting Against the Public: Often, public opinion can sway the betting lines, creating value in going against the consensus. Keep an eye out for situations where public sentiment might be overvaluing a team, leading to inflated odds for their opponents.

Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest NBA news, including injuries, roster changes, and coaching decisions. This knowledge can impact game outcomes and betting lines, so staying informed can give you an edge over other bettors.

Specialize: It can be beneficial to specialize in a specific area, such as a particular team or division, as this allows you to gain in-depth knowledge and make more informed bets in that area.

By implementing these strategies and remaining disciplined, you can make more informed decisions, increase your chances of success, and enjoy a more rewarding experience when betting on the NBA

NBA Betting FAQs

  • Is it legal to bet on NBA games?
  • How NBA odds are being set?
  • What does the point spread mean in NBA betting?
  • How do I read NBA betting odds?