NBA First-Quarter Spread Betting

Malcolm Darnley

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

Much like the NRFI bet in major league baseball or the Goal In First Ten (GIFT) in the NHL, betting on only the first quarter of an NBA game is quickly becoming one of the more popular basketball prop bet options amongst NBA bettors.

There are a couple of reasons a sports bettor may prefer to play on the first quarter point spread instead of betting on the entire game.

First off, there may be a perceived advantage in betting on a smaller amount of game time. In 2021, the Minnesota Timberwolves were 49-32-1 ATS in first-quarter action only.

However, over the course of an entire game, the T-Wolves fell to 42-38-2.

That is a difference of seven wins ATS and tells us the T-Wolves liked to start fast last year but had trouble sustaining that throughout an entire game.

Another reason the first quarter point spread is gaining popularity is how quickly the bet is decided. The average time for an NBA game is somewhere close to 150 minutes, from start to finish.

The average length for an NBA first quarter is 30 minutes.

Whatever your reason for betting NBA first-quarter point spreads, Best Odds has a lot of insight and information to help make your next bet a good one.

Betting NBA First-Quarter Point Spreads

When it comes to betting first-quarter point spreads, understanding team trends and how they perform on average at the start of a game is a big deal.

One would assume that teams who cover first-quarter spreads also cover a lot of entire game point spreads.

That can be true for some teams, but not every team who starts great finishes strong

2021 ATS Betting Stats

Team1st QTR ATSRankFull Game ATSRank
Spurs48-32-23rd43-37-210th
Bucks44-36-28th39-43T17th
Wizard40-40-215th33-47-228th
Nets41-40-111th32-48-229th
Trailblazers43-37-29th30-51-130th

In our table above, we identified five teams and compared their first quarter ATS record vs. their ATS record over an entire game.

It is interesting to note that all five teams finished at least in the top 15 for first-quarter spread betting, but over an entire game, many of these were the worst teams league-wide at covering spreads.

This tells us that a sign of a bad team isn’t necessarily how they start but how they finish.

In fact, the Portland Trailblazers were a profitable 43-37-2 ATS in first-quarter action last year.

However, when we look at full-game point spreads, the ‘Blazers were last in the entire league at covering.

NBA First Quarter Odds

Typically, first-quarter point spreads are very close to ¼ of the overall game point spread.

TeamsGame Point Spread1st QTR Point Spread
Lakers+8 | -108+2 | -110
Clippers-8 | -112-2 | -110

In our example game above, we can see that the Lakers are +8 point underdogs visiting their rivals down the road.

This example’s first quarter point spread is exactly ¼ or 25% of the overall spread.

Of course, there is always a moneyline factor to betting point spreads. Most books start with a moneyline of -110 on both sides when they set their odds.

The -112 moneyline indicates more money has been bet on the Clippers at this point. It may also tell us that the -8 might eventually move to -8.5.

The first quarter spread will also be impacted when the overall point spread moves.

Handicapping NBA First Quarter Point Spreads

Very few teams are good enough to dominate all four quarters of a basketball game.

Good teams will start fast and be prepared from the opening tip.

Great teams will finish strong and close out opponents in the fourth quarter and crunch time.

2021 Top 5 Teams – 1st QTR ATS Betting

Team1st QTR ATSFull Game ATSWin/Loss Record
Grizzlies50-31-152-29-156-24
Timberwolves49-32-142-38-246-36
Spurs48-32-243-37-234-48
Celtics47-31-443-36-351-31
Cavaliers45-34-342-36-444-38

Our table above lists the 2021 Top 5 NBA teams when it comes to covering first-quarter spreads. 

ATS in the first quarter, those teams combined to go 239 – 159 – 11, which is a 60% win percentage.

Overall, those same teams combined to go 231-177 straight up. (57%) Only the Spurs were not a winning team on our list.

This confirms our belief that there is a correlation between playing well in the first quarter and winning games.

What Is The NBA First Quarter Standings Page

If you are into NBA First Quarter betting, then BestOdds.com needs to become a regular destination for you.

After every NBA game, we will provide an updated standings page, ranking each team’s performance based on their ability to cover the first-quarter spread.

How To Use The NBA First Quarter Standings Page

The NBA first-quarter spread standings page will allow a bettor to analyze and identify key trends before most of the betting market.

How many people last year realized San Antonio’s ability to cover first-quarter point spreads, despite winning only 34 games?

The standings page will also allow you to analyze team trends at home or away. How do individual teams differ in the first quarter when at home vs. on the road?

Another key benefit of the standings page is the ability to search for league-wide trends. What is the average cover percentage for home or away teams league-wide?

How often do teams cover two, three, or four games in a row?

The first quarter ATS standings page will become a valuable resource for all those who enjoy getting some action on the games opening 12 minutes.

Always Shop Around

When it comes to betting on NBA first-quarter point spreads or any form of NBA betting, the most significant edge is our ability to shop around and find the Best Odds.

Specifically for first-quarter point spreads, it will be rare you find additional full points when you shop around with different sportsbooks.

First-quarter spreads tend to be small.

But you will be able to find an advantage with the moneylines associated with the point spread.

The difference between a -110 line and a -115 line on a single bet is not overly significant.

However, over time the ability to bet moneylines in our favor can add an additional 20% ROI to our overall profit.

If we aren’t shopping around for our Best Odds, we are leaving profit on the table.

Looking for more stats? Check out the NBA First-Half Spread stats for betting.

Latest update: 3 hours ago
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About the author

Malcolm loves to watch all kinds of different sports. He also writes about them.