With a whopping 82-game season, the NBA provides sports bettors huge opportunities to bet on basketball each year. Not only that, but the premier basketball league comes in a close second to the NFL each year in sports betting handle. Each game boasts hundreds of betting options, props, and even live betting options that make you really think on your feet.

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a professional handicapper, you can definitely find something to place a bet on at any given NBA game.

But how do you bet on the NBA effectively? Here are some tips from OnlineSportsBetting. It’s important to understand the game, do plenty of team and player research, and even follow beat writers who specifically cover the NBA. Many people just try to guess when it comes to betting on the NBA, and while some could be successful, it’s important for many sports bettors to have a strategy.

But first, for those who are new to betting on the NBA, we should go over the main NBA betting options and NBA odds, to prime you for betting on the 2020-2021 NBA season.

nba betting lines

How to Bet on the NBA

The first step in learning how to bet on the NBA is to understand NBA betting odds.

NBA Betting Odds

These are those numbers next to a team name, that are either denoted as positive or negative. The positive numbers indicate that the team is less likely to win than their opponent, and would be the underdog in this situation. The negative number represents the favored team and would be more likely to win. Their numbers would represent how likely they are to win.

If you have the Golden State Warriors at +200 and the Toronto Raptors at -200, that means the Raptors are favored to win that game, and the Warriors are the underdog. A bet on the Raptors wouldn’t pay out as much because the oddsmakers are predicting that they would be the ones to win, but a bet on the Warriors would pay out much more if they did pull off a victory.

The odds represent how much you would need to bet to win a certain amount of money. In the case above, you would need to bet $200 on the Raptors to win $100. You can bet any denomination, but that doesn’t sound like a bet that’s really worthwhile unless you were 100% sure the Raptors would win. If you bet on the Warriors, you would need to bet $100 to win $200.

The more a team is expected to lose, the higher their odds will be, meaning you’d be winning big bucks if a huge upset occurs.

nba betting sites

Popular NBA Betting Options

Now that we’ve covered what the odds look like, let’s look at popular betting types that you will be able to choose from when betting on the NBA.

Betting on the NBA Moneyline

The easiest betting type you can lay down in terms of NBA betting is the moneyline. It’s simple and easy to understand and great for new bettors. Your job is to determine which team will win the game - that’s it.

If the Warriors and Raptors are playing and you believe the Warriors will win, you select the Warriors and you’re good to go. Mind you, reviewing the odds and aspects of the game before you place your wager is important to ensure you aren’t throwing your money away.

Let’s look at an example:

  • Toronto Raptors -120
  • Golden State Warriors +300

We changed the numbers around to give you a different perspective. The Raptors are still the favored team, at -120 vig. A $120 wager, with the Raptors winning, would yield $100 plus your initial wager. The Warriors are the underdog, and if they upset the Raptors and win, a $100 wager would yield $300 plus your initial $100.

Betting on NBA Point Spreads

Point spreads are extremely popular in the NBA, and almost any of the main professional sports. Point spreads are intended to give the underdog an imaginary advantage or level the playing field in games that are one-sided. Your oddsmaker or sportsbook will decide who the favored team is, and determine the spread based on how those two teams match up.

The spread is essentially how many points a team must win or lose by, depending on which side you’re betting on. If you choose the favorite, their spread will be a negative number, and they must win the game by that amount. If you choose the underdog, they must lose by less than that number or win the game.

For example, if you have the Bulls at -5.5 and the Pacers at +5.5, the Bulls are favored to win the matchup. The Bulls are expected to win by more than five points, and for your bet to cash, they must win by more than 6 points. The Pacers, on the other hand, need to win the game or lose by less than 5 points. The team must cover their spread for you to win.

The spreads change as the game draws closer, you could get a better value closer to game time, as sportsbooks balance the lines based on the bets that come in early. They try to have equal bets on either side so the Pacers could be even bigger underdogs on game day.

NBA odds

Betting on NBA Totals

If you’re looking at the lines and you aren’t leaning toward a particular team, you can always bet the totals or the over/under as it’s commonly referred to as. Totals betting is quite simple, and you don’t have to choose one team over another - you simply have to decide if the total amount of points scored by both teams collectively will be over or under the oddsmaker’s line.

If you have the Celtics versus the Knicks, and the total is set at 190, you will need to decide if you think both teams will score more or less than 190. If both teams easily get over 100 points per game, that should be an easy bet to make, and you’d take the over. If the Celtics defensive play is too much for the Knicks to handle, and you don’t see the Knicks scoring many points, take the under.

The totals will have odds like -110 attached to it, based on the handle coming in on the choice. These are your odds for your bet, and usually don’t venture too far from the -110 and -105 zone due to the unpredictability of the over/under bet.

Betting on NBA Props

Let’s get into the fun side of NBA betting. Prop bets or proposition bets as they’re formally referred to as can be so much fun to wager on. They are unusual or goofy wagers on outcomes within the game that can make betting on the NBA a little more exciting. You could bet on the number of three-pointers a specific player could rack up in a game, or how many blocks a team might have, or who will win the opening tip-off.

Prop bets are just for fun, and most people don’t put a lot of money on them. Many online sportsbooks offer a huge selection of props per game, providing a much greater variety than your average retail sportsbook. Sometimes there can even be too many to choose from, and it does get overwhelming when trying to determine which one to bet on.

Many props are purely luck, and you really don’t have to put a lot of thought or time into them.

Betting on NBA Futures

NBA Futures are extremely popular early in the season, as they provide a huge value with high risk. NBA Futures are exactly as they sound - you are placing a bet on which team will win an outcome month in advance. As soon as the NBA Finals wrap up each year, sportsbooks put out the following year’s futures.

The main NBA Futures are the NBA Finals Futures and the divisional winners. Predicting if a team will win the NBA Finals months before it happens can usher in some fantastic odds.

Let’s use the 2019 season for example. To start the season, the Toronto Raptors were +900 to win the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors were -165. A bet on the Warriors in October 2018 would have barely any value, and your money would be wasted as they lost. A $100 wager on the Raptors would have paid out $1000.

In some instances, you can find the middle of the pack teams sneaking up the standings and inching into the finals or even their divisional finals. It’s important to keep in mind that these bets are highly risky, as you have 30 teams in the NBA, so 30/1 odds of being right.

nba wagering

Top Online Sportsbooks for Betting on the NBA

Now that you have a good idea of how to bet on the NBA, let’s take a look at where you can bet on the NBA.

      While your state may have legalized sports betting, many haven’t passed laws or updated legislation yet, so offshore sportsbooks are still a great option for NBA betting.

      Finding an online sportsbook that offers the best NBA odds, NBA bonuses and a variety of deposit options should be your main priority. All sportsbooks are different, so you want to ensure you do plenty of research and read sportsbook reviews before signing up.