The NBA regular season is long and arduous for NBA players, coaching staff, and fans alike.
For those who look to win cash with the occasional (or all-too-frequent in some cases) bet on the NBA, there are many sports betting sites that are only too happy to oblige anyone who wants to give them their money.
In this article, we’ll talk about the basics of NBA betting in its various guises.
We’ll explain the differences between the kinds of bets that are available to the average punter through one online sportsbook or another and gradually try to show how you can place NBA bets with growing success.
THAT’S IF YOU ARE PREPARED TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK…
THE NBA SEASON IS LONG AND FULL
The hectic NBA schedule does not lack the opportunity to make basketball bets, as 30 teams participate in an 82-game season that is closely followed by the lengthy processes of the NBA Playoffs and the NBA Finals.
But that’s not necessarily such a bad thing.
Yes, if you throw money at it immediately and with abandon then more basketball games = more chances to lose your money.
BUT I’M SURE WE CAN ALL AGREE – THAT’S NOT THE WAY TO DO IT
That’s fine if you’re using up a couple of free bets you got for joining one online sportsbook or another, but it won’t do as a useful betting strategy.
We recommend Australian sportsbook PlayUp for all your NBA Betting. They have great offers and promotions, keen NBA odds, and a huge array of other sports to have a bet on. Read our full review of PlayUp.
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One thing that such a plethora of games does is that it allows any budding gamblers the option of multiple games to learn the ropes and start to hone their craft.
While the range of bets that we are able to put on NBA games are reasonably simple, the strategy for doing so successfully can be a touch confusing at times, and just knowing where to start has been known to put off budding NBA bettors.
ULTIMATELY, THE GOAL IS TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN BASKETBALL BETTING STRATEGY
One that makes the best use of your own interests and talents.
Until that time, we’ve got some simplistic explanations of the various styles of NBA bet that you have to choose from, and a few tips to start you off in the right direction.
SO, STRAP IN AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
THERE’S A LOT TO GET THROUGH, SO WE’LL START AT THE BEGINNING…
HOW TO READ NBA ODDS
Before we explain how to bet on NBA games, it would be prudent to familiarize yourself with the way that betting odds will be represented on most basketball betting sites.
We have an in-depth article that focuses on this in great detail here (LINK), so will keep it brief for now and just lay out the basics.
Odds will always be expressed with either a plus sign (+) that indicates the underdog
Or a minus sign (-) that represents the favorite.
For a ‘straight bet’ to determine who will win outright in an NBA game between:
Golden State Warriors (-260) @ Boston Celtics (+220)
The minus (-) beside the Golden State Warriors tells us that they are the favorites.
The number represents the amount that we would have to wager in order to win back $100
So – a $260 bet will return $100 – plus our stake – leaving us with $360 in total
Conversely, the plus (+) beside the Boston Celtics tells us that they are the underdogs.
The number represents the amount we would win if we staked $100
So – a $100 bet will return $220 – plus our stake – leaving us with $320 in total
POINT SPREADS OR ‘LINE’ BETS
When two teams aren’t deemed to be evenly matched, the point spread or line bet (LINK) gives bettors an alternative to picking one NBA team to win over the other.
The favorite is put at a disadvantage by being given a handicap before the game begins.
THIS IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS ‘THE SPREAD’
Los Angeles Lakers (-12.5) @ Milwaukee Bucks (+12.5)
In this case, the Los Angeles Lakers would need to win the game by at least 13 points for the bet to be successful.
The Milwaukee Bucks would have to either win the game themselves or lose by no more than 12 points for that bet to be a winner.
The 0.5 extra ensures that the bet cannot come back as a tie and be rendered null and void.
These bets with whole numbers can be found, but are less common, and if the team wins by the exact amount predicted then the bet is deemed to be a ‘push’, and the stake money is simply returned.
NBA POINT SPREADS WILL SELDOM BE LESS THAN 5 POINTS…
…as NBA basketball is nothing if not a high-scoring sport, and bigger leads are easy to build up between losing teams and winning ones.
We regularly review the latest odds for the NBA futures markets, including one of the most popular NBA Futures bets, the NBA Rookie of the Year Betting market.
When placing an NBA over/under bet (sometimes referred to as a totals bet) you are essentially predicting whether you think the total number of points scored by the 2 teams, when combined will be higher or lower than the predicted number.
Bettors wager their money on whether that combined score will go ‘over’ or ‘under’ the amount that the sports betting sites have set as their total.
Let’s say that the over/under total is set at 220.5
If you think that the combined score will be above 220.5, then you opt for an ‘over’ bet.
If you think it will be less then you bet ‘under’.
The extra 0.5 ensures that it has to be one result or the other, and the total points scored can’t land directly on the target.
Variations on this theme are explained in detail in our comprehensive article (LINK)
NBA PROP BETS
When browsing the betting markets for some tasty odds, you’ll come across prop bets (LINK)
In the world of sports betting, prop bets (short for proposition) are based on certain events or highlights that may or may not happen during NBA games.
The bet will not directly concern, nor be affected by the actual outcome of the game.
How many total rebounds will the Chicago Bulls have in the second half against the New York Knicks?
Will the San Antonio Spurs score 20 points in the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors?
How many assists will Stephen Curry have against the Los Angeles Clippers?
EFFECTIVELY, THE VARIATIONS ARE ENDLESS
NBA statistics are fairly comprehensive and so the ‘mix-and-match’ approach that prop bets cater towards is always going to throw up fresh and interesting challenges. They keep it interesting, and that is surely why they are so popular.
This is especially true among less dedicated gamblers who are just looking to spice up the NBA Playoffs or take advantage of the enticing ‘free bets’ that companies like Fanduel Sportsbook offer to attract new customers.
Which of the two teams is the winner is largely irrelevant in props betting and so many punters find them more entertaining to place and keep track of as the game progresses.
FUTURES BASKETBALL BETTING
Think of futures bets as NBA betting with longer-term outcomes.
You make the bets on events that will then take time to come to fruition.
Who will be named Most Valuable Player (MVP)?
Will the Memphis Grizzlies make the Playoffs?
Who will be the NBA Championship leaders going into the final round proper?
Will the total points of more than 5 games reach 250 points per game?
FUTURES BETS CAN BE MADE AT ANY TIME BEFORE THE EVENT IN QUESTION TAKES PLACE
Your chosen betting site will release the odds before the start of the NBA season, so the best tactic is to select the ones you like and put your money on them as soon as possible before any extra information starts to bleed into the algorithm and the odds change.
In effect, a parlay bet is several different bets on one ticket.
This type of bet allows you to accumulate two or more wagers on one betting slip. If the first bet is successful then the winnings roll over to the next bet and become the stake.
If all of the bets come in (as they must for it to be a winning ticket) then the final amount won is significantly more than if they had been separate bets. In other countries, this kind of bet is known as an ‘accumulator’ or ‘Acca’ bet.
The individual bets are not related in any other way than the fact that they all need to be correct in order to keep the bet alive. In fact, the sports you bet on don’t even have to be the same.
You could pick the result of one NBA basketball game, the winner of a tennis tournament, and the first player to score for Barcelona against Real Madrid if you so wish.
When oddsmakers set the betting lines, they take a huge number of factors into consideration and often have computer algorithms that find trends and occurrences that might be impossible to find without countless hours of work.
But countless hours are what you have on your side.
If your interest in the National Basketball Association is like ours then this is almost as much fun as the games themselves.
LOOK AT STATISTICS UNTIL YOUR EYES SWIM
Try to think about the game objectively and see the challenge as one of finding a series of ever-smaller needles in haystacks.
There will be false starts and lines of investigation that go nowhere. The more you study and absorb the form of individual players and teams, the more you will start to see patterns and oddities that weren’t apparent at first.
Our NBA betting strategy article (LINK) on how to bet on NBA games online should give you more than enough ideas about what to look for, so we’ll just summarise here and let you investigate that deeper article at your leisure.
Keep up with the latest news and gossip.
Pay close attention to injury news.
Follow who is feeling disgruntled because they didn’t get enough court time last week? Who is rumored to be wanting a transfer? How will that affect their upcoming games?
Read, read, read. Research. Think about what factors you feel affect games the most. Look at the stats. Do they back up what your instincts said?
Where does that realization lead you?
Look at schedules and rest periods. Who has been having a harder run lately?
When 2 teams meet, how do they usually fare against each other? In EVERY category of stats that you can get your hands on.
Does home court advantage play a part? How about the pace?
The list is literally endless, but the deeper you dig, the more chance you give yourself of gaining a genuine gut feeling for how games are going to play out.
AND THEREIN LIES THE KEY
This endeavour is a curious mixture of instinct and cold, hard facts.
Without the other, neither of them is of any real use in NBA betting.
A computer can probably make a steady stream of correct bets based on the actual odds as it calculates them, but it will NEVER have the X factor that the human mind can.
GET YOUR BETS IN EARLY
If you want to find any kind of edge over the online sports betting sites when scouring NBA lines in search of the best odds, then the time to do it is when the markets open each morning. Adjust your day to allow for this, depending on where you live.
In major sports like the NBA, nothing goes unnoticed by the legal sportsbooks in their quest to take your money.
They have insider sources that will give them the latest injury updates and any gossip that might affect one team over another. They have armies of people scouring every conceivable angle in order to never get caught napping and taken for a ride by shrewd punters.
BUT THEY ARE NOT INFALLIBLE
There will always, inevitably be inefficiencies and discrepancies within the market.
They won’t last long, and any betting lines that are off will be corrected quickly once the smart money catches them and starts to load them up.
Once this happens, any extra advantage in terms of value is gone, so it’s better to be up early, do your due diligence, and act fast.
Legal sportsbooks will continue to gather information on games and how the betting action looks throughout the day and will correct any mistakes lickety-split.
IF YOU DO YOUR LINE SHOPPING EXPEDIENTLY…
…and know what you are looking for, then you can eke out small bonuses before they catch on.
Bet in the early morning, but do your best to stay tuned into any incoming injuries and be prepared to bet on games later in the day where you feel that an injury could have a significant impact on the outcome.
You aren’t just competing against the bookmakers and their minions and algorithms, you’re also competing with thousands of other sports bettors who are shaping the odds with their own bets.
Before you lay any money down anywhere, pay attention to how the odds on your chosen area of interest change throughout the course of a day. Watch as the markets fluctuate and settle, then change again as live bets start to affect the situation.
If you see a particular betting line moving in one direction after the public has started to bet heavily on the other side, then that might be an indication that the experts are taking advantage of the emotionally-driven, uneducated way that the public tends to bet and betting the other way.
Jumping on moving lines with perfect timing is an art form in itself. You will get an intuitive feeling for it as you progress. Don’t forget though, just because a line starts to move, that does not mean you should immediately bet the game.
Ask yourself if it conforms to your own rules and what you have learned and decided to apply to your betting strategy. If it’s not a good pick according to your research, then leave it alone.
The Jump Hub is not only focused on the NBA. Here we take a look at some of The Best NCAA Basketball Teams to know which teams to keep your eye on during March Madness!
MAKE EXTENSIVE NOTES
Compare data from the moment the season begins and record anything and everything that you think can help you to find your niche. Watch how team odds behave before and during games. You’ll soon get a feeling for the best times to lay different bets. Also when to accept that the value in a line is gone and it’s time to look elsewhere.
TAKE EMOTIONS OUT OF THE EQUATION
Bet according to the system you have worked tirelessly on using logic and analytics.
It’s obvious that anyone with enough dedication and perseverance to build their own betting strategy is bound to also be a fan of one team or another. Sure, you can throw a few dollars at your hometown team if you must, but the key to success is to follow the steps we have outlined here and stick to the rules you create as a result of all that hard work.
It makes no sense to come to the conclusion that you should always bet the under when one of the teams has been at the mercy of back-to-back games, and then do the opposite because you’re hoping to see your favorite player get a sackful of points.
IS THE LOGIC SOUND, OR ISN’T IT?
If it is then stick to it. If it proves to be flawed in its reasoning then reevaluate and make adjustments to the system. Remember –
A SUCCESSFUL BETTING SYSTEM IS NOT CARVED OUT IN STONE
It should be malleable and open to change when new information comes to light that changes the situation. Think of it as a sculpture that needs constant adjustment as the subject moves. The foundations are solid and don’t move, but the details at the extremities are liable to change.
PREDICTING THE OUTCOME OF AN NBA GAME CAN BE RATHER DIFFICULT!
That’s an understatement.
If you want to approach it systematically then there are myriad factors to take into account.
And that’s just to decide a straight bet on who will win the game outright.
NBA BETTING IS NOT NECESSARILY FOR THE FAINT OF HEART…
…but if, like us, you get great pleasure from studying stats and facts and figures then don’t despair.
It may not be particularly prudent for bettors who have no interest in the game itself to put too much of their hard-earned money into NBA betting.
There are simply too many parameters to consider. As sports betting goes, it can be fairly labour-intensive if the aim is to do it consistently well.
BUT THAT’S WHY WE LOVE IT
For us, NBA betting is the ultimate test of our knowledge and understanding of the game.
To bet on the NBA Championship with any degree of real success tests our ability to study and understand stats to the max.
It keeps us on our toes and up-to-date with all the latest news and gossip, which is where we want to be anyway!
Try to remain impartial when you are selecting your bets. Of course, we always want our favorite teams to win and our arch-enemies to lose. It stands to reason.
If we’re not careful then our emotions will betray us and find ways to make a win seem plausible, even if our system tells us that it isn’t. As a fan, this is totally natural.
Of course, we have to be able to hope that our team wins against the odds.
It makes watching the game all the more enjoyable and without hope, there would be little joy in it at all.
But as a serious and dedicated sports bettor, this illogical hope can cause chaos if you let it seep into your complex strategy.
Keep the two things separate and remain unbiased in your betting. It’s not as though there is any shortage of games to bet on!
To finish then, please go out and enjoy your newfound sports betting wisdom. Have fun creating your own water-tight system for betting on NBA games.
But remember –
PLEASE ALWAYS BET RESPONSIBLY
Online sports betting can bring a great deal of joy and excitement to our lives. But it can very easily bring a great deal of misery instead.
The golden rule, as we always say here at The Jump Hub is:
NEVER BET MORE THAN YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE
Be honest with yourself.
If you think you might have a gambling problem then please seek professional help as soon as possible.
You are not alone in dealing with that particular affliction. It is always better to talk to someone and address the issue than to allow it to go unchecked.