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NBA Betting Odds

Throughout the year, online sportsbooks are stacked with NBA betting options.

There are daily lines on individual games to futures markets that remain open all season and hundreds of different bet options in between.

In this guide, we will explain how the odds work and discuss strategies you can adopt to improve your chances of success when betting on the NBA.

Typically, online sportsbooks post betting odds for upcoming games about a day in advance.

Then, as the game nears, oddsmakers add dozens of individual markets for each game, and bettors can fill out their bet slips.

Reading the odds and understanding the numbers you’re looking at is essential. In the United States, American odds will be displayed by default.

Each game has a favorite and an underdog.

The Favorite has a negative (-115) symbol, while the Underdog has a positive (+115) sign.

Bettors can calculate how much they stand to win on their own, but a great thing about mobile betting sites is that they do it for you.

Once you have filled in a betting slip for a game and placed your desired wagers, the odds will be automatically calculated based on the amount you choose to bet.

If you want to enjoy live betting on an NBA game, betting lines continue to update as the game progresses.

This allows bettors to put their money on various wagers until deep into the fourth quarter.

For odds on other professional sports, visit our sports betting odds hub.

Popular NBA Online Bets

When looking at NBA odds in online sportsbooks, there are many different types of bets available.

Before placing our wager, we need to understand the basic moneyline, spread, and totals, as these are the keys to grasping more advanced markets such as props and futures.

In this section of the guide, we will run through all of the most popular bet types you may come across:

Moneyline Bets

Moneyline betting might be the simplest type of bet to make.

All that is required is for the bettor to predict who will win the game.

Factors such as recent form, the schedule, or a mounting injury list could determine which team you wish to wager on.

Moneylines are a great entry point into NBA betting and may suit novice bettors just trying to get their feet wet.

Moneyline Example

  • New York Knicks +120
  • Los Angeles Lakers – 115

In our example above, we can see that the visiting Knicks are the underdog (plus odds), and the home team, LA Lakers, are the favorite.

If a bettor wanted to bet New York on the moneyline, a $100 wager would return $120 in profit.

If a bettor wanted to bet Los Angeles on the moneyline, a $115 wager would return $100 in profit.

Spread Bets

Point spreads are very popular in all sports, including the NBA. Oddsmakers set a spread to make the game more even, making it harder for bettors to predict the final outcome.

A favorite must win by more than the point spread, while underdogs don’t have to win the game to win a bet.

If an underdog can lose by less than the point spread, they are deemed to have covered the spread.

Point Spread Example

  • Brooklyn Nets +5
  • Los Angeles Clippers -5

Our Point Spread example above shows that the visiting Nets are +5 point underdogs on the road against the Clippers.

This means the Nets can lose the game by 4 points or less OR win the game outright and still win this point spread bet.

Totals Betting

Totals, or over/unders, is another popular form of sports betting that is easy to understand.

Sportsbooks set a total for an NBA game, and bettors must select whether the game’s final score will be over or under that total.

Totals (O/U) Example

  • Cleveland Cavaliers vs Milwaukee Bucks – O/U +210.5

Our totals example above shows us that the Cavs vs Bucks game total was set at 210.5 points.

If someone wanted to bet over that total, then both teams would have to finish with a combined score of 211 points or more.

Prop Bets

NBA prop bets are individual wagers based on in-game events other than the moneyline, spread, and total.

These bets can be on a game, player, or team props, but many of the most popular options revolve around player performances.

For example, you can bet on the over or under for an individual player’s point total.

If you put money on LeBron James Over 25.5 points in a game, and he scores 26 or more, the bet is a winner.

Parlay Bets

Parlays are wagers that have multiple events included on one bet slip.

Because you are making multiple picks at once, the odds are increased, and the payouts are significant, making parlays a very exciting form of sports betting.

However, parlays are significantly more complicated to win. Each time you add another event to your parlay, you make it more unlikely that your parlay will win.

Recreational bettors love making big parlay tickets that allow them to risk little but chase a large payout.

These can make for an entertaining day of NBA basketball – but it is also important to understand that those types of parlay tickets rarely cash.

Please remember always to gamble safely and within your predetermined budget.

Futures Bets

Futures are bets on something long-term and take much longer to settle than the few hours it takes an NBA game to be played.

These can revolve around teams if you want to bet on a division winner or the NBA champion, or they can be based on players if you want to guess the different NBA award winners.

Most futures are placed before the season starts but remain open for betting as the regular season plays out.

Futures odds are set in the preseason but will be adjusted constantly throughout the season based on team and player performance.

Win Totals Betting

Win totals betting is a fun form of betting that allows you to make one wager at the beginning of a season and cheer for a team all season long.

This wager requires picking over or under on a total for how many games a specific team will win in the regular season.

An NBA regular season consists of each team playing 82 games.

A market may be presented as ‘Milwaukee Bucks to Win Over 51.5 games.’

If the Bucks win 52 games or more, over-bettors will be cashing winning tickets.

Remember, the regular season is a marathon, and teams will suffer dips in performance levels and results.

NBA Betting Tips & Strategy

Betting on basketball is easy to do, but making a profit from betting on basketball can be difficult. 

That is why it always helps to have a plan for your wagers.

A solid strategy will give you more confidence and a better chance at boosting your bankroll.

Shop For The Best Odds

The most popular advice for sports bettors, given by even the sharpest bettors on the planet, is to shop around for the Best Odds available.

When a bettor is shopping for the best odds for each wager they make, you can regularly find odds that will increase your profit by 20% or more.

On any one specific bet, the difference in profit might not seem significant.

However, when you factor in the number of winning bets you will make over three months, six months, and one year – shopping for the Best Odds available is far and away the easiest way to impact your bankroll significantly.

Look For Reverse Line Movement

This is one strategy that all novice bettors would be wise to adopt.

Reverse line movement occurs when the public is on one side of a game, but the odds shift toward the other side.

It tells us that the professional bettors could be fading the public, and you may want to also.

Spending Time In The Lab – Trying To Perfect Your Craft

We all know there never has been, and never will be, a perfect sports bettor.

When we talk about perfecting our craft – we are referring to the pursuit of always trying to get a little bit better each day.

Numerous resources provide data, stats, and opinions to help us make better, more informed decisions. For some, we might want to invest money into sophisticated tools to help us with our bets.

For others, it might be spending time analyzing free data and stats from the numerous quality websites available.

Whatever your time and effort level is – make an effort to try and improve your craft.

Start Small & Get More Adventurous

We have a huge selection of NBA betting options, and it can be hard (some say impossible) to be good at them all.

Moneylines, Point Spreads, Totals, Game Props, Player Props – it is truly overwhelming when you count all the different bets available for a single NBA game.

Your goal is not to be great at everything. A good place to start is by learning how to be good at one form of betting and then introducing another.

Head vs Heart

For transparency – I was born and raised just outside Toronto, Canada.

Although I don’t necessarily believe the Toronto Raptors will win the NBA Championship each year, I certainly spend a lot of time cheering for them to do so.

Every time the playoffs roll around, I place a bet on my beloved Raptors to win it all. Thanks to Kawhi Leonard, I cashed a winning ticket once.

No rule in life says we must always bet with our heads and not our hearts.

However, we do have to be sensible and gamble responsibly.

Betting on our favorite teams to win, even when we don’t necessarily believe that will be the outcome, is okay. 

Just make sure you are within your set aside budget and playing responsibly.

Understand The Rules

Of course, understanding the rules is essential to success in sports betting, especially in basketball, where the NBA rules differ from the college game.

If you’re betting totals, it helps to know that quarters are 12 minutes and the shot clock is 24 seconds long.

Each player is also allowed six fouls rather than five in the NCAA game.

Because of the difference in rules, the NBA is a significantly more high-scoring league than college basketball.

Advanced NBA Betting Systems

If earning profits was easy, every bettor could do it.

Bettors would be wise to give themselves every opportunity to gain an edge, which is where betting systems come into play.

Bounce Back System

The Bounce Back system entails being able to spot when a team is playing at home after a bad performance in their previous game.

Typically, bettors will back teams with a solid field goal percentage and an excellent home record. This system can be helpful for totals in addition to individual teams.

Betting Against A Blowout Win

The Blowout System acts in the opposite way to the Bounce Back System.

Oddsmakers and bettors get excited when a side wins by 15 points or more. The belief is that winning consecutive games in blowout fashion can be difficult.

However, a team that wins by 15 points or more might see their odds shift the next game, making them a significant favorite.

Betting on the underdogs to cover the spread is how this system works.

Back-To-Back System

The NBA schedule can be demanding.

The back-to-back betting system relies on predicting how a side will fare when playing on a second consecutive date. Teams with back-to-backs tend to tire in the second game.

Sportsbooks obviously will try to factor this into the spread, but the rigors of NBA travel and the physical demands of playing back-to-back nights can be tough.

Zig-Zag Theory

Drawing upon elements of the Bounce-Back and Blowout Systems, the Zig-Zag Theory provides a handicapping strategy that can be used in the NBA playoffs.

Here, a team that lost the previous game is more likely to bounce back and cover the spread in the next matchup.

The Tunnel System

The tunnel system is a betting method that uses varying odds from sportsbooks to build a middle ground.

For example, a bettor may take an Over 224.5 at one sportsbook and spot the total at 227 on another site.

If they take Under 227, the bettor has built a tunnel where the total can land to win both bets.

Betting On NBA Playoffs Online

After the drama of the regular season, the NBA playoffs come into full swing.

Here, the brackets are decided based on a team’s performances throughout the regular season.

Games are a best-of-seven-elimination format. The drama increases every step on the road to the NBA Finals.

All NBA playoff games have sportsbook odds covering every angle of the affair. Bettors can choose between various moneylines, spreads, totals, and props.

There are even futures bets based on the result of the series, how many games it will go, and the exact result.

Betting On The NBA Finals

Arguably one of the grandest sports spectacles in the United States, the NBA Finals are a must-watch for any bettor or basketball fan.

The NBA Finals consist of a best-of-seven-game format where the first to win four games gets the title.

With all the individual game betting options and additional prop betting options that come with the NBA finals, betting on the NBA finals can be a very entertaining experience, even when our favorite team was eliminated long before the finals tipped off.

Always Shop Around

When it comes to betting on NBA basketball, the single greatest edge a bettor has over the sportsbooks is their ability to shop around for the Best Odds.

There is value in Shopping Around for every bet you make, but for those interested in sprinkling some money on a few teams with some NBA futures bets, if you aren’t shopping around, you risk leaving a lot of money on the table.

Let’s use the Phoenix Suns as an example. During the offseason this year, Phoenix could be found at +1000 to win the NBA Championship or as low as +643 to win it all.

For a $100 bettor, that is a difference of almost $400 in profit from a single bet.

$400 in profit for one bet or a difference of 40% ROI on a single bet is more than enough reason to shop around for your Best Odds.