Guide to NBA Betting – Win Money on NBA

By Trent D

December 28, 2022

Image Courtesy of Alamy

In 2018, a landmark Supreme Court ruling opened the door to a new era in the world of Sports betting in the United States. The verdict, in favour of the state of New Jersey, overturned a federal ban on sports wagering that was deemed unconstitutional and has given rise to an explosion in legalised gambling. Find out more in our guide to NBA betting.

The growth of online betting in particular has been a phenomenon with more people taking advantage of the new Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) laws. On the back of the verdict, more than $20 billion worth of bets have been placed with US sportsbooks, with the public set to benefit from the vast array of betting options now on offer in the world of US sports.

The NBA is one of the most popular sports to bet on, with endless options at your fingertips to help to maximise your winnings potential. The act of Betting has never been simpler and there is a now variety of ways in which to gamble, tailored to suit any type of customer.

One feature of the NBA is the unequal balance of the competition – the best teams are far stronger than the weaker ones. The most basic form of wagering is known as a ‘money lines’ or a ‘fixed odds’ bet. The simple nature of a moneylines bet makes it an attractive proposition as it only requires the bettor to pick who they think the winner will be. A straight bet on a heavy favourite will deliver minimal dividends, whereas a bet on the underdog will rarely yield a return. But there are more popular and rewarding methods to bet on the NBA.

The Jump Hub writes a daily betting review of all NBA games, and major NCAA games. We look at the pre game odds and the full NBA betting results, together with the game highlights.


Another option on offer in the NBA betting market is ‘Over/Under’ betting, also known as ‘point totals’, or just ‘totals’. An Over/Under bet or ‘totals’ is a wager based on whether a selected NBA game will reach a combined points total. A bookmaker will set this points total based on the comparative strength of both teams’ offense and defence and there will be a 50/50 chance that the game will end with the total being scored either side of this line. Teams with weak defence combined with a strong attack are the perfect candidates when looking at potential bets in the totals category.

A good strategy here is to look at the head to head history of the competing teams for indications that may help steer you to where to lay your money. Home or away form can be an important characteristic of some teams whose results can swing wildly depending on whether they have the backing of a home crowd or not.

In addition, injuries to key players and the motivation of a team, particularly in the second half of a season, can be key indicators when it comes to assessing likely outcome of a game. In all instances, it is good practice to keep a close eye on recent trends when betting on the NBA as most teams go through cycles where performances fluctuate; these variables can distort any trends that may be used for placing a bet.

Usually the NBA is a high scoring sport with results typically in the range of 180 to 220 points with the average in the mid 190 point range. The best way to analyse the probability of selecting the correct total is not only to study the occurrences of the contesting team’s results over the course of say, 10 games but to look at anomalies such as overtime games which would falsely inflate those figures. Looking for similar trends will increase the chances of success when it comes to NBA betting, regardless of which method you use.

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‘Futures’ or ‘Outrights’ are another popular way to bet on the NBA markets. The popularity of NBA futures bets has grown due to the basic nature of the terms and also the attraction of playing the ‘long game’ bet that keeps your bet alive on a week to week basis all the way through to the season’s end. The interest is ongoing, without betting on any particular game, although part of the appeal is to follow a team or individual’s fortunes on a weekly basis through to the finals . Every NBA futures and outright markets works the same way. You bet on which team or player you think is going to win the championship, conference, division or award. If they do, your bet is a winner. This typically involves a straightforward bet on the following:

  • Eastern Conference Winner

  • Western Conference Winner

  • Division Winners

  • NBA Most Valuable Player

  • NBA Championship Winner


For example, the betting odds for the Lakers to win the 2021 Championship is +230. So, for a $1 stake, the return in the event of a Lakers Championship win would be $2.30 for a total return of $3.30.

By far the most engaging method of NBA betting however, is Spread Betting.

We regularly review the latest odds for the NBA futures markets, including one of the most popular NBA Futures bets, the NBA MVP (Most Valuable Player) Betting market.


The binary nature of the betting options above generally deliver minimal returns as each game involves a clear favourite and a clear underdog. Therefore, the best way to maximise potentially bigger payouts is to place a wager through spread betting. Spread betting works by levelling up the playing field: even if your team loses, you can win the bet. It works by awarding points to the underdog and taking away points from a favourite.

When looking at the odds on a point spread bet, a + sign and a – sign will appear next to the name of each team. The + sign indicates that the team is the underdog and is expected to lose. The – sign means that this team is the favourite and is expected to win.

The point spread, which is sometimes referred to as the “handicap”, is the number of points taken from the favourite, or given to the underdog, in order to increase the chances of either team winning the wager. In most games, there’s usually a team that is more likely to win, based on a number:

For example the NBA betting odds for the Miami Heat v Boston Celtics game:

Miami Heat -10 (-110) v Boston Celtics +10 (110)

Here we have Miami Heat as clear favourites to win and Boston Celtics who are the underdogs. The () value in front of the 10 shows us that the Heat are the favourites. The (+) value represents the underdogs.  The 10 point value is how many points either team could win, or lose by. If you think the Heat will win by more than 10 points, then you’d bet on the favourite in this case.

Alternatively, if you predict that the Celtics can either win the game or lose by less than 10 points,  then you’ll want to place your bet on the underdog.  Bet on Boston and if the final score is Miami 98, Celtics 90 – you have won the bet on the +10 point spread. Conversely, if you bet on Miami and the Final score is the Heat 112, Celtics 100 – you will have won the bet on the -10 spread.

Frequently, a point spread that has a half-point added to the number. Obviously, there’s no such thing as half a point in an NBA game, so point spreads with a (.5) attached to the score don’t seem to make much sense. However, bookmakers do this to mitigate against the chance of a tie which is also known as a ‘push’:

Denver Nuggets -5.5 (-110) v New York Knicks -5.5 (-110) with the half point added.

In this case, if you bet on Denver to win, and they win by 6, you win. If they win by 5, you lose. Same goes for a bet on the underdog. If the Knicks lose by 6 points, you lose your bet, and if they lose by 5 points, you’ll win. The chance of a tie or “push” does not exist.

That (110) number tells you how much you have to bet in order to win $100. The vig – is the price sportsbooks charge for making a bet. The most common vig used for each side of a wager is -110.

Let’s say you decide to bet $100 on Denver to win by more than 5.5 points and the final score is Nuggets 96, Knicks 90. The Nuggets have won by 6 points, meaning they’ve covered the spread, and you’ve won the bet. Alternatively, if you have bet on the Knicks and the result is Nuggets 96, Knicks 92, your bet is also a winner as Knicks have avoided a 6 point defeat. The -110 means that your $100 bet will win you a total of $190. That total includes your original bet amount, so your total profit is $90.

‘Beat the spread’ is a widely used term that relates to the idea of the other team winning a bet within the parameters that the bookmaker set out, even though their team may not win the game itself. ‘Covering the Spread’ is another term in which the backed team wins the bet despite the sanctions placed on their team.

The one thing to remember about Spread Betting is that the odds are not fixed and the bookmaker adjusts the odds according to a range of factors such as team selection news, new information pertaining to the game and the direction of the flow of money that is being placed.

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