This comprehensive NBA betting guide covers money lines, point spreads, totals, and parlays.
It’s one of the most fun leagues to bet on, with a fast pace and unrivalled intensity on every shot. Something is enticing about this sport that makes you can’t look away from the TV and makes bettors worldwide want to bet on it.
NBA betting offers plenty of options during the season.
Besides betting on their favorite teams, bettors can also wager on the big games on TV.
How basketball betting lines work
Basketball is one of the most popular sports for wagering, and there are numerous ways to do it. Moneyline, point spread, and Over/Under totals are the most popular types of basketball betting.
Betting on NBA moneyline odds involves picking the winner of the game. Moneyline odds for each team are determined by calculating the implied probability of victory based on the strength of the teams and other factors.
Moneylines: Predict the NBA winner
The basketball moneyline is the most straightforward betting market, allowing you to pick the winning team.
According to the implied probability of each team winning, sportsbooks generate moneyline odds for a game. Moneyline odds reflect the chances of winning for basketball teams that are not always evenly matched. Based on a team’s odds, you can use our odds converter and money line calculator to determine their implied probability.
Moneyline odds are usually displayed in hundreds (American odds). American odds show one team as the favorite (a negative value) and one as the underdog (a positive value).
For example, the Los Angeles Lakers are -130 moneyline favorites against the Toronto Raptors, who are +110 moneyline underdogs.
The Lakers are the stronger team (56.52 percent chance of winning), so for every $10 you want to win, you must risk $13 ($130 bet wins $100). You can win $11 for every $10 risked on the Raptors since they are the weaker team (47.22% implied probability).
Point spread: Betting the spread with basketball
Because it equalizes the skill difference between the two teams, the point spread is among the preferred odds markets for basketball bettors. When calculating the perceived point spread, the oddsmakers consider both teams, the venue, the current form, and any critical injuries.
A team must win by more than the point spread to win for bettors, while an underdog has a positive value in front of its point spread. Underdogs can win outright or lose by less than the spread to generate winning bets.
In a game where the Los Angeles Lakers are -2.5 favorites and the Toronto Raptors are +2.5 underdogs, the Lakers must win by at least three points for the spread to cover. The Raptors and the Lakers can only cover the spread if they win outright or lose by two points or less.
There is always a second set of odds with point spreads called the vig. They are the cost of placing a bet. Most point spreads have a vig of -110; to win $100, you must risk $110. However, vig can vary from book to book depending on the current betting action.
Over/Under: Betting on basketball point totals or season-win totals
The Over/Under odds also called the total, are another popular way to wager on basketball.
When oddsmakers determine the matchup between two teams, they consider both offensive and defensive production and predict the total number of points each team is expected to score. Bettors can wager if the final score will be Over or Under that total after a sportsbook sets it.
For instance, Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors have a 222.5 point Over/Under total.
For an Over bet to win, the game’s final score must total 223 points or more, whereas an Under bet must total 222 points or less.
As with point spreads, both sides of the total – Over and Under – have an attached vig, usually set at -110. The value can adjust depending on the betting action and varies from book to book.
Parlays: Combine NBA bets for bigger payouts
NBA parlays require you to place two or more bets to win a bigger payout. Parlays allow you to place a smaller stake for a higher payout, but they carry a higher risk.
Adding more bets to the parlay increases its potential payout and risk since all bets must win to pay off.
Parlays usually end up with a line of plus money. Each fixture is considered a “leg.” NBA parlays can consist of anywhere from 2-12 games.
The Milwaukee Bucks are listed at -120 if you bet them alone. By parlaying them with the Warriors at +140, the bet becomes profitable.
Prop bets: Betting on player performance and more
The prop bet is one of the fastest-growing ways to bet on basketball, allowing you to wager on various aspects of the game besides the final score.
The NBA prop bet can be based on game events, team performance, or individual players’ performance. Proposition odds for NBA games and NBA players include betting on the first team to score 15 points, the total number of three-pointers made by a team, and the total number of points, rebounds, and assists of a player.
Below is the over/under for total points scored in a single game for Kevin Durant and James Harden. The Over/Under is listed at -120, indicating the sportsbook favors neither scenario. You must choose whether the player scores more or less than the designated number set by the sportsbook.
Because of the half-point, this bet cannot be pushed. If the game goes into overtime, the prop still counts.
Futures: Win totals, MVP, and NBA Championship Odds
It is a long-running wager on the outcome of a team or player, such as the odds of winning the NBA Finals or winning the NBA MVP award. In season win totals, you can bet whether a team will win more than or less than its set number of wins.
Usually, these odds are open before a season begins and will accept bets throughout the schedule, adjusting based on results and injuries.
The odds of winning the NBA Finals can be found here. Odds usually come out at the end of the previous season, and can usually be wagered on until the NBA Finals. Brooklyn has the best odds at +250 to win the Finals, while the Lakers have the second-best odds at +400. NBA lines fluctuate throughout the season due to team performance, injuries, and roster changes.
Basketball betting tips and strategies
If you are looking to handicap NBA odds, remember these basketball betting strategies.
Shop for the best odds
A line shop is an excellent way to get the most value when betting. Experts always do this, and it takes only a few minutes. If you want to bet the Lakers at -140 at one book, but they’re -125 elsewhere, the latter offers much value. You’ll lose money if you don’t take advantage of the best lines long-term, especially if you bet a lot.
You can find the best lines for each game at various online sportsbooks using our odds comparison tool.
Count on the current form
Bettors should pay more attention to the current form when betting on the NBA. They should weigh the past three games more carefully.
It’s possible for losing teams to return from slumps and winning teams to regain their form. Determine why those recent results happened and if they’ll continue.
Mind the matchups
Using our NBA scores and matchups page, compare each team’s strengths and weaknesses against that day’s opponent to find the best NBA bets.
You should account for that and bet accordingly if a team struggles to rebound against a team with a bigger, more potent frontcourt.
The deciding swings in basketball are often driven by these matchups and mismatches.
Injuries and off nights
If you’re betting on a team, check out the injury report to see which key contributors are out of action. The NBA schedule is hard, and injuries will greatly affect their success. A recent wrinkle to betting on the NBA, particularly on back-to-back games, is finding out which players will rest.
Even though the status of big-name stars has a major impact on NBA odds, there is still an advantage to finding undervalued injuries and how they could impact a team’s performance. The odds may not change if a backup point guard or wing defender is sidelined, but it will affect the final outcome.
Follow the line movement
Regarding NBA betting, it’s often not about picking on the best team but rather the best number.
It is important to monitor the opening NBA odds and where they are moving to determine the best time to place your wager. Point spreads, moneylines, and totals will constantly adjust as action and injury news are released.
Dive into derivatives
There is value in breaking up NBA betting odds into halves and quarters, setting sides and totals for different game phases. Due to teams’ tendencies and trends, these derivative odds have added value that can be missed in the full game lines.
With the first-half spreads, some teams are slow starters and find their form in the second half, making them an excellent bet to fade. It is common for teams to start firing quickly on offense in the first quarter, adding value to the Over. Get to know the best derivative bets by analyzing the analytic splits.
Scout the schedule
Many factors influence a team’s performance, including rest, travel, and motivation. Situational betting – spot betting – is a useful method for finding underlying value.
During a specific stretch of the schedule, a team may play multiple games quickly, leaving them exhausted for the final games. Additionally, the schedule can give players and coaches time to adjust their game plans and recuperate from injuries. And as always, keep an eye out for “letdown” and “lookahead” spots before important matches and big victories.
Covers are one of the rare sources of unique betting data for every NBA referee assignment, making it an efficient method of handicapping basketball odds. Referees significantly affect games’ outcomes, especially Over/Under totals.
When a particular ref is part of an officiating crew, you can use this data to measure a team’s recent betting results. As some referees will call more fouls than others, you can follow referees with one-sided tendencies to the Over and Under. With the clock stopped, teams score points when those whistles sound, boosting the Over.
How to make an NBA bet
Research available game matchups on our scores and matchups page.
You can sort the NBA scores and matchups by spread, total size, and line movement on our scores and matchups page.
Our Covers Consensus calculates the percentage of picks based on the team records straight up and against the spread for each game.
We have detailed matchup pages for each game that allow you to track line history, view the most popular spread and total picks, and analyze unique betting trends for each team.
Find the best NBA odds using our odds comparison tool.
Betting on NBA basketball intelligently isn’t always about picking on the best team but picking the best odds.
Use our odds comparison tool to compare spreads, totals, and money lines for NBA games from the top legal sportsbooks in your area. Compare across the industry and find the best odds.
Log in/Sign up for a sportsbook in your area.
You can sign up for a sportsbook by clicking a few buttons. Once you have found a legal book in your area, you can create an account and deposit money with various banking methods, including credit cards and e-transfers. The majority of sportsbooks offer new players great bonuses and welcome promotions as well.
Make your bet
By selecting NBA basketball from their menu and searching for the game or market you want to bet on, you can place your bets in the sportsbook after researching your best NBA picks on Covers.com.
Once you’ve added the bet to your bet card, enter the money you’d like to risk. After clicking submit, you will receive a receipt or e-ticket showing the odds and the amount you can win.
Best basketball sportsbooks for beginners
Our betting experts scored the internet’s vast collection of online sportsbooks to find you the best basketball betting sites.
The sportsbooks listed here are licensed and trusted, offer great sign-up bonuses, and provide convenient and quick banking options.
Basketball betting FAQs
Where can I bet on the NBA online?
You can bet on the NBA online at several legal sportsbooks. Check our reviews to find the best legal online sportsbooks.
How do you bet on the point spread for basketball?
As the point-spread favorite, one team must win by more than the designated number of points, whereas the point-spread underdog one must win outright or lose by less than that number.
How do you bet on basketball games in the Philippines?
Almost all Philippine sportsbooks offer markets for NBA, college basketball, and WNBA games. Find a sportsbook near you, head to the counter, and place your bet.
Can you bet on women’s basketball?
The odds for the WNBA are available at almost all sportsbooks.
What is a 3×2 bet in basketball?
The 3×2 bet in basketball refers to a three-bet parlay in which at least two picks must be correct to win. If all three are correct, you get a larger payout.
What does +/ – mean in basketball?
As a point differential between a team or player on the court, +/- or Plus/Minus is often used in the NBA. American odds, on the other hand, use positive and negative numbers to display betting odds. Positive numbers indicate underdogs (+110). A negative number (-110) indicates a betting favorite.
What is a draw in basketball betting?
The draw in basketball betting is when you wager on the three-way line. There are three options: Home, Draw, or Away. You bet on a tie when you bet on the draw.
Where can I bet on NBA games?
NBA betting is available at nearly all online sportsbooks worldwide. It is one of the most popular sports leagues for bettors.