The NBA is one of the most fun sporting leagues to bet on. The pace is relentlessly high and games can have an almost constant intensity. That is hard to find in other sports and makes basketball a sport that is hard to take your eyes off once it starts. This also makes it a lot of fun to wager on. Add to that the myriad of options there are to place bets on the NBA and you’ve got a recipe for an exciting event.
The odds for NBA games can vary in their release times from one online sportsbook to another. In general, we have found that they tend to appear as follows:
Points spread – the day before at 5 pm
Totals bets – same
Moneylines – same
First half lines – the day before at 10 pm
Team props – game day at 10 am
Player props – game day at 2 pm
Multiple matchups allow bettors to wager on their favorite teams and any other interesting games that happen to be available.
There is a lot to learn before plunging headfirst into sports betting for the first time with any degree of seriousness.
If you’re really planning to do it right and are prepared to invest the time and money required, then read – How to build an NBA betting model first!
BASKETBALL BETTING LINES
Basketball is not unique in having a huge number of options when it comes to betting. But it is certainly among the most entertaining and versatile.
The most popular, simplistic forms of basketball betting are the moneyline, point spread, and over/under totals bets.
We have other articles explaining these in detail on the site so will keep it brief here.
A moneyline bet simply requires the bettor to choose the winner of the game.
Sportsbooks generate their moneyline odds based on each team’s probability of winning. In modern times, this is done using sophisticated algorithms and systems of information-gathering. You won’t have access to either of those so must create your own systems and acquire a superior gut instinct.
The underdogs (not expected to win) will be represented by a number with a plus (+) sign. This number shows you how much you would get back from a $100 bet should they happen to win.
So +220 means $220 (including your original $100) in your pocket.
Conversely, the favorites are represented by a minus (-) sign. That number shows how much you need to stake (risk) in order to get back an extra $100.
So this time -220 means you have to put down $220 to get back $320 in total.
Odds are represented in different ways depending on your location. See – How to read NBA odds for a great overview on that.
A point spread bet is a more detailed version of a moneyline best. It specifies the points difference that you as the bettor think will be between the rival teams. This requires a little more skill and judgment than just picking a winner.
Again a highly complex algorithm and supporting system are used to calculate the odds you will be offered. This is based on everything from home advantage and recent injury issues to the number of consecutive on-the-road games, recent form, and so on ad infinitum.
Here a minus (-) value again indicates the favorite. The team must win by MORE than that number for your bet to be successful. It is effectively a handicap system whereby that team starts that number of points behind and still has to pass the other team to win.
-3.5 therefore indicates that they need to make up 3.5 points to be back level. The 0.5 is to prevent a situation where they equal but do not pass the required number and nullify (push) the bet.
This is known as “covering the spread”
It makes sense then (hopefully) that the team with the plus (+) sign is the underdog. They can either win outright (by any margin) OR lose by less than their attributed number.
-3.5 means they can lose by no more than 3 points. If they lose by 2 then your bet is still a winner!
An over/under bet is another very popular way to wager on basketball. This is also known as a “total” bet.
Sportsbooks will again do their analytical gymnastics and determine what they think the final combined score of the two teams will be. The bet becomes this – do you think that the combined score of the 2 teams will be over or under the one they quote? That’s it.
They quote 215.5 points (for example) and you choose whether you think that’s too high or low. Again, the 0.5 means you either win or lose not tie.
Parlay bets represent a poor strategy and are best left to ‘bonding’ collective work bets or those with your buddies just to add a bit of extra spice when you’re hanging. They won’t hurt if (when) they lose.
The basic concept of a parlay bet is that it consists of several smaller bets. If one wins then the returned profit rolls over to become the stake of the next bet. They are known as “accumulators” overseas and it’s easy to see why.
The problem is that ALL the bets must come in for the ticket to be a winner.
Sure, you might be a savant and pick every element accurately. Or just plain lucky. You can stake small and win big.
But you won’t
You will lose in the long run if you try to incorporate parlay bets as part of any serious sports betting strategy.
Leave it to the thrill-seekers and be a bit more strategic.
Now here we have a really interesting angle on NBA basketball wagering.
The concept is that you choose a player (or team) and bet on an outcome that you are confident they will achieve in a game.
You could bet that a particular player will score more than 20 points. Or collect less than 5 rebounds. Reckon the Hawks will score more than 115 points? Drop a few bucks and see. It is also possible to make props bets the individual elements of parlay bets.
But you know how we feel about those…
Either way, the variations are almost endless. Basketball is not lacking in stats that can be used in this way and is the perfect sport for this type of betting.
As far as we’re concerned here in The Jump Hub office, this represents one of the most interactive, unique ways to drop a few dollars on an NBA game. It requires more skill and consideration than just guessing who will win but is not going to require thesis levels of research if you don’t have the time.
Prop bets are growing rapidly in popularity and it’s easy to see why. You can watch your team lose but have the consolation of collecting some winnings on the back of your player predictions. Sweet.
As the name implies, futures bets concern themselves with events further down the timeline. Picking your MVP at the start of the season or which teams will make the NBA Playoffs, win each Conference etc…
Similar to props bets, there are no real restrictions on what the event you choose to place a bet on might be. There might not be an existing line offering odds on the total number of points your chosen player will score in 20 games but if you contact your bookmaker directly they’ll surely give you one.
Season win totals are popular for teams. As with under/over bets it’s simply a matter of deciding if your chosen team will make more or less points than the line suggests.
Much more difficult than it sounds…
SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST ODDS
When betting, it’s essential to get the best value you can from the available sportsbooks. The differences won’t always be significant but once in a while there is value to be found in one line over another.
Listen – they’re all making money off punters one way or another. They even add juice on top for the privilege of them taking your money! Charming. There’s not much you can do about that.
But you can be careful and selective about which one you choose to risk your money with. If you shop around for the best lines then that forces them to be a little more competitive to attract your custom. Any edge you can garner in the battle is not to be taken lightly. The odds are already stacked against you so you have Eto take every opportunity no matter how trifling.
CURRENT FORM IS KEY
Standings are a great representation of a team’s overall performance that season. But they tell us very little about the form they currently find themselves in. Don’t let numerical position come before the last 3 games in terms of importance when betting. Form is key. All teams hit purple-patches and also have slumps in form. Try to use all the information you can get your hands on to predict whether the team you’re studying are due for either of those and react accordingly.
Every NBA team has its strengths and weaknesses. When you start your routine of searching for the best NBA bets, it is important to consider those. If you happen to have observed that Team A are strong offensively against teams that play rapidly then you need to assess Team B and see if they fit that model. If not, how do Team B play against opponents that prefer rapid play? Does the size of Team A mean they will take more rebounds than usual as Team B are smaller and more nimble? And so on and so on until you are cross-eyed and your brain hurts. You can go into the details as far as you like. If you happen to enjoy it as we do then happy days. If not, get another hobby or just suck it up and treat it like work.
The NBA schedule is full and challenging. It takes its toll on athletes, coaches, and fans alike. Pay close attention to any injury news and even gossip about disharmony or dissent among NBA rosters. All these things add up and affect team and individual performances one way or another.
Certain players may be rested and that will surely affect your assessment of the team’s overall prowess. ‘Superstar’ players will affect the NBA odds more than lesser ones but don’t be blinded by celebrity. Some of the most important, influential players in NBA history have been the unsung heroes. They do their jobs methodically and consistently and allow their flamboyant brethren to do the rest. Don’t underestimate the importance of players and assess each one as they come up. Stay alert and keep your eyes and ears open to any and all information out there.
LOOK FOR LINE MOVEMENT
With time and experience, something becomes apparent when betting seriously on any sport. The game is to beat the bookmaker. So you bet the numbers, not the teams.
Almost all sports bettors who have progressed beyond dropping a few bucks on their favorite team once a week with a beverage and some salty snacks will come to the same conclusion. Online sportsbooks are constantly adjusting and tinkering with their lines. Heavy betting on one side can push the line the other way (see our fascinating article on the biggest NBA betting scandal in history for a better understanding of how criminals used that to their advantage).
Point spreads, moneylines, and over/under totals will react to thousands of individual actions and the latest news (particularly injury news). Monitor the opening NBA odds and watch where and how they’re moving to pinpoint the optimum time to strike and place your bets.
The trick lies in spotting lines that have value in them and using your advanced knowledge and NBA betting strategy to take advantage.
SCOUR THE SCHEDULES
If teams are playing back-to-back games on the road or more games than usual in a short space of time then their performance is almost always affected. Pore over the schedules before placing your bets and look out for any energy-sapping stretches that certain teams may be in the middle of.
Be aware of how your chosen team performed in those last games. Did they run into overtime? What was the pace like? Any injuries reported? Check it all.
It goes without saying but is often overlooked.
Referees have a significant impact on NBA games
Some referees will call more fouls than others. Those whistles bring foul shots and teams score points with the clock stopped. This is not to be taken lightly if you are making an over/under bet. Pay attention to the refs and their tendencies. You can even bet on games based solely on who the ref is if you so wish. We’d be lying if we said we’d never done that.
There’s not much to add as a final reminder here. Do your due diligence. Consider all of the points above and read our other articles on how to approach sports betting in general.
Treat NBA betting as a serious business (unless it really isn’t) and you can actually make some money while spicing up your enjoyment of the game you love.
Most of all abide by this rule
WHEN THE FUN STOPS, STOP
All of the others are meaningless when compared to this.