Betting On NBA – Expert Picks And Generous Sportsbooks
This era of the NBA continues to be jam-packed with superstars and storylines, from LeBron James’ pursuit of a fifth championship ring with an intrigue-filled Los Angeles Lakers team to the powerhouse Brooklyn Nets and their glittering Big Three (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden) to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ongoing rise; not to mention the turbulent situation surrounding Ben Simmons in Philadelphia and 2021 MVP Nikola Jokic’s somewhat unlikely transformation into an upper echelon superstar.
Plus, the league’s established stars must know that the next wave is coming – Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are among the young phenoms taking the league by storm. Young guided the Atlanta Hawks to the conference finals last season, while Doncic is poised for a 2022 MVP run. The 2021 NBA Draft added another layer of excitement, with a handful of rookies expected to emerge as franchise cornerstones.
In short, there are countless reasons to be glued to the NBA. When it comes to betting opportunities, the league delivers a packed schedule of games most nights of the week which, in turn, keeps the oddsmakers busy. Here are some of the different ways to bet on the action.
NBA Betting Markets
NBA Moneyline bets
The simplest way to bet on the NBA, just like with all sports, is to pick the outright winner of the game. With overtime periods until one team comes out on top, there are only ever two possible outcomes (unlike the Premier League or even the NFL).
The margin of victory is irrelevant here. Where the road team is slightly stronger than the home team, you might see even odds for the moneyline, but they generally tilt towards the more talented team, even if they are not playing at home. While underdog money lines can offer terrific value, there are a handful of inexperienced teams to be wary of, including the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic.
NBA Spread betting
This is where it gets trickier. With spread betting, the game scoreline is the critical piece. The oddsmakers will set a line that reflects the difference in quality and form between the two teams. As an example, the high-flying Brooklyn Nets might be expected to go into Detroit and beat the rebuilding Pistons by 11 points. In that case, the line would be set at 11, giving you the choice of Nets -11 or Pistons +11. If you take the Pistons, they do not have to win – they just have to lose by less than 11 points. With the spread, given that the line is designed to balance out the two teams, the odds for either outcome are generally set at -110.
Going a step further, you can also find odds for “alternate spreads”. If you felt confident that the Nets were heading for a blowout win, you might take the higher odds on a spread of -16. Equally, the odds would jump if you envisioned Detroit keeping the score very close and picked an alternate line of Pistons +6.
Some teams are just quicker out of the blocks than others or have an edge with their starting unit in the game. Where such trends emerge, you can choose to bet on specific quarters or halves of action. See that the Lakers are crushing teams in the first half? You can bet a money line or against the spread for their first 24 minutes of play.
The spread betting logic applies to the total number of points scored in the game too, with oddsmakers weighing up the offensive firepower and defensive skill sets on show. In an average game, the line might be set at 220 total points, and again there is the option to go “over” or “under” that number, usually each with -110 odds.
NBA Parlay bets
If swinging for the fences is more your thing, you can stack several different bets together for a parlay (or accumulator), whether you’re betting on moneylines or against the spread. Maybe you like the look of the Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks to win on a particular night, or you find three or four spreads that seem favourable. That said, with the parity that exists in today’s NBA, these can be tough to nail as teams’ fortunes fluctuate from night to night.
NBA Teaser bets
Teasers are another popular alternative to traditional spread betting when scrolling through the odds. Like a parlay, you could choose two, three or even more four teams to form a single overall bet. For example, you might like the Nets -7, the Lakers -8.5 and the Toronto Raptors +4.5. With teaser betting, you can reset those lines – typically by 6, 6.5 or 7 points.
So, if you decided on the three-team teaser above with a 6-point readjustment, you would now be looking at spreads of Nets -1, Lakers -2.5 and Raptors +10.5. All three parts of the bet have to be successful, but the expanded spread is advantageous. This kind of three-team teaser generally comes at odds of around +180. Stretching the teaser to include a fourth team would usually nudge the odds up to +300.
If you are undecided on the likely outcome of a game, you can still get involved with player performance bets. Odds are provided for the number of points, assists or rebounds an individual player will have in a particular game.
Here, the line is usually set right around the player’s nightly averages. Curry, Durant or James would likely see a line close to 27.5 points as the over/under. Lines for assists and rebounds may be limited to players who excel in those categories – e.g. assists for Harden or Chris Paul and rebounds for Rudy Gobert or Clint Capela. The do-it-all superstars like James, Durant, Antetokounmpo and Doncic tend to have odds for all the main categories. These types of bets can often be more fun as you get the freedom to enjoy the action and cheer on your favourite player without fretting over which team is winning and by how much.
Game outcome/player performance combos
If you are looking for higher odds, pairing the winning team with the points total of one of their stars has some value. As an example, against an opponent of similar quality, you might see odds of 3/1 for the Lakers to win and James to score 30 points. Both parts of the bet have to be fulfilled for it to pay out.
While this category is more applicable for the offseason and preseason, when you can bet on regular season win totals for each team, there are other NBA futures than run throughout the year. These include the division winner, Eastern and Western Conference champions and the NBA champion.
There are odds for the individual awards too, from Most Valuable Player (MVP), where Doncic, James and Antetokounmpo are among the frontrunners, to Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year (all wide open races). Futures also extend the intrigue, with plenty to monitor from week to week.
NBA Live betting
The opportunities to place wagers on NBA action do not end once games have tipped off. With NBA live betting, you can access in-play odds for moneyline, spread betting, total points and more. Just keep in mind that the prevalence of solid three-point shooting has allowed scorelines to tilt back and forth, making it a less daunting prospect to erase a 20-point deficit. That should be factored in when wagering on the NBA spread.
NBA Betting Strategy
At betting.com, we’ve kept things simple. Check out our game previews (on our NBA Picks page) for the recommended odds/bookmakers. The site is also set up to make adding selections to your betting slip equally simple. Once you are logged into your account, choosing your bets can be done in just a few clicks.
Here are some other tips to keep front of mind when betting on the NBA:
The Eastern Conference looks just as strong as the Western Conference, if not stronger
After several years in which the Western Conference stood head and shoulders above the Eastern Conference, the NBA appears to have real parity this season. Both conferences have a top tier of contenders as well as a talented middle tier, from which additional championship hopefuls could emerge. With the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks both poised to be sneaky outside bets, the playoff path through the East could be tougher than ever.
Keep an eye on the schedule
With significant travel and chunks of the season where certain teams are playing four times in six or seven days, the fatigue factor is real. On paper, a line might look too low, but be sure that one team is not limping into the game after changing time zones multiple times in the past 72 hours. The back end of a long road trip can cause some surprising results.
Look out for injury updates
One injury to a key player can make a huge difference in the NBA. Players will often be considered a “game-time decision”, with a final verdict on their fitness sometimes delivered less than an hour before tip-off. With a growing awareness of the benefits of managing players’ minutes, it is also not uncommon for a player to be rested occasionally (especially on veteran-laden teams like the Lakers), though this would often be known in advance and reflected in the odds. Plus, when one star sits out, that opens the door for others to play more minutes and take more shots, presenting other betting opportunities.
Go beyond the starting five
During the regular season, depth matters. A team might have two All-Star level starters but bench minutes can be costly if the talent drop-off is steep. Teams are making a concerted effort to inch starters under 35 minutes a night, so the quality of the second unit can swing results on a nightly basis. Come playoff time, though, star power still rules the day.
Factor in three-point shooting
Teams have been firing up three-pointers at a staggering rate, creating more variance in the possible outcomes. But some are clearly better than others from behind the arc. Last season, the LA Clippers, Nets, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz and Bucks made up the top five in three-point field goal percentage, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets as the bottom three. The Jazz led the league in three-point attempts per game (43). For as long as three points count for more than two (!), there is greater comfort in betting on teams that shoot well from downtown.
Monitor home/road records
With full crowds expected this season, look for home court advantage to demonstrate its value again. That bodes well for teams that have made their home arenas a fortress over the years, like the Philadelphia 76ers, Heat and Bucks. Expect Staples Center to be rocking too, with the Lakers adding Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony this summer.
The NBA tweaked its schedule to accommodate the COVID-related challenges over the past 18 months, but the 2021/22 season is back on the league’s typical calendar, with opening night in October. Each team played 72 games last year, but we return now to the 82-game schedule, leading into the playoffs (starting in mid-April) and then the NBA Finals in June.
Remember, the recently introduced Play-In Tournament appears to be here to stay. That means that the teams finishing 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th in each conference at the end of the regular season will battle it out for the last four playoff spots (the 7th and 8th spots in the East and West). The 7th and 8th seeds face off to determine the number 7 spot, with the loser facing the winner of the 9th vs. 10th battle to decide the number 8 seed.
Keep an eye on the schedule for the nightly slate of matchups, ranging from the earliest games in the East (7pm or 7:30pm ET) to the West Coast late games (10pm or 10:30pm ET). In between, you will often find tip-offs at 8pm, 8:30pm and 9pm ET.
Where To Find The Best NBA Picks?
Throughout the NBA regular season, and during the playoffs, make our NBA Picks page your home for the latest tips and predictions. We are committed to delivering the best NBA picks, along with what you need to know before betting on the action.
NBA Odds And Live Odds
Head over to our NBA Odds page throughout the season to weigh up your options for upcoming (and live) games on the schedule.
NBA Expert Predictions
For more tips and predictions, check out our NBA Predictions page for detailed coverage, including game previews.
Even with the Nets standing out as the title favourite, there is huge intrigue heading into a season in which so many teams have genuine playoff aspirations. That means must-see games on a nightly basis – as well as a handful of teams ready to make a splash with a big trade (Damian Lillard stands out as the superstar who could become available soonest).
Buckle up for a wild ride.