How to Bet on NBA Games

How to bet on NBA games.

You are a big fan of the NBA and are looking for ways to bet on your favorite teams. The only problem is you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s some information on how to bet on NBA games.

The NBA Season

The NBA regular season consists of 82 games. At the conclusion of the regular season, 16 teams make the playoffs with a shot of reaching the NBA Finals. There are four rounds that include a series of seven games each. The first team to win four games advances to the next round.

The season provides plenty of chances for bets with a ton of games as 30 teams compete from October until June to crown an NBA champion.

NBA Odds and NBA Bet Types

You’ve taken a look at the best NBA betting sites. There are long lists of odds, lines, and more. What do they mean? Here’s a look at some of the bet types you will find on NBA sites and what they mean.


A moneyline bet is when you are picking which team will win the game straight up. All that matters is which team ends up winning the game. Favorites are listed with negative odds while an underdog is listed with positive odds.

For example, you check the odds for NBA games online and see the Celtics are -145 favorites vs the Bulls. You bet on the Celtics and they win the game. You would have needed to bet $145 to win $100 based on the odds. If the betting odds for the Bulls were +210, a $100 bet would win $210.


A total bet is also referred to as an over/under. As you learn how to bet on NBA games, you will see this bet type often. It’s one of the more popular bets on basketball games. This bet is looking at the total points scored by both teams combined.

For example, you begin online sports betting and see the point total for the Bucks vs Heat game is 217.5 in the first round of the NBA playoffs. You decide to bet the over. To win, you need 218 points or more scored in the game. The Bucks win the game 100-88. Your bet would lose because that’s only 188 total points scored so it was an under.

Point Spread

One of the most popular bet types in the entire betting market is the point spread. Spread betting is looking at the margin of victory in a basketball game. You are betting on how much a team will win or lose by in a particular game. One team will have its point differential represented with negative odds (the favorite) while the other is positive (the underdog).

Let’s say you check an online sportsbook and see the Lakers are -8.5 favorites vs the Knicks. This means the Lakers have to win by nine points or more for a bet on them to win. Odds for point spread bets are usually around -110 on both sides. A $110 wager would win $100.


A prop bet is a wager on an outcome within a game. It isn’t necessarily tied to the final result of the game. Some bettors consider these bets to be a more fun way to bet on basketball. A sportsbook will have player, team, and game props.

For example, online sportsbooks will have props for total points by a player, the first player to score in the game, and more. There are NBA betting odds and props for so many different facets of the game. It can be easy to get overwhelmed. This is why betting strategy is important as your start getting into the betting action.


An NBA parlay is a combination of different bets into one wager with the goal to boost the odds and increase the potential payouts for bettors. The more bets you add to your parlay, the bigger the potential payout becomes. Keep in mind, the more you add to the parlay the less likely you will win the bet as the probability goes down.

The wagers can be from the same game or multiple games. Each bet added to a parlay is called a “leg.” Most sportsbooks allow two to twelve legs for a single parlay.


Futures bets are wagers on events down the road. You can bet on which team you think will win the NBA Championship way back at the beginning of the season. Futures odds are a form of betting that give bettors enhanced odds if they can make the right bet early on.

There are all sorts of futures to place such as betting on a particular NBA player to win the MVP or which rookie will take home the Rookie of the Year award.

Live Betting

In-game betting has taken off in recent years. Bettors can bet on games while they take place. There are odds and lines that are quickly changing based on the action. It’s a popular option for NBA bettors as they watch the best basketball teams in the world compete.

NBA Basketball Betting Tips

When you are looking to bet online or in-person with NBA games, there are a few things you need to consider. Here are some tips to help you make smarter NBA bets.

Bet Earlier

If you are looking to gain an edge when betting on NBA games, you should consider placing your bets as soon as the markets open each morning. Odds are usually available before 10 am eastern time.

The NBA is a massive market with a ton of wagers being placed. Any potential betting opportunities are quickly seized by sharp bettors and betting syndicates. By betting early, you can take advantage of inefficiencies within the market and lines that may be off before they are corrected.

As we get closer to tip-off, oddsmakers, and bettors receive more information on the games, resulting in the lines becoming more accurate. Betting the NBA early allows you to capitalize on the mistakes made by oddsmakers on the initial lines they release before these errors are corrected.

Check Injury Reports

With just five players on the court at a time, NBA lines can easily be impacted by injuries. It’s important to keep up with the injury report before betting on the moneyline or NBA spreads. If you are keeping up with the latest injury reports, you might be able to catch a line before it shifts based on the latest information.

Check the Schedule

With teams playing so many back-to-backs throughout the season, you should consider the NBA schedule as you look to bet on a team. How many games have they played recently? Are they on the back end of a rough west coast trip? Keep up with the schedule for upcoming NBA games and see if you can give your betting a boost based on the schedule.

Stay Away From Teasers

Another betting mistake in basketball is placing too many teasers. A teaser is popular in the NFL because a lot of games come down to just one or two possessions. When this is the case, a six-point teaser can be a smart decision.

In an NBA game, there are way more possessions. A six-point teaser is just a couple of possessions. You aren’t getting much value by moving the lines by a few points for a teaser.

Common Mistakes When Betting on Basketball

It can be exciting to bet on so many different types of National Basketball Association games. Be careful. Here are some of the common mistakes that are usually made when betting on basketball.

Betting Blindly

If you want to win your bets, you will have to put in the time. It takes strategy and research. Betting blindly will allow you to watch your bankroll drain to zero. Take a look at the schedule, injuries, and more before placing bets.

Betting Too Many Games

There is a lot of action to choose from each day. Don’t go crazy and bet on every single game. Pick a few teams that you can follow throughout the season and learn as much as you can. Just because there is a slate of 10 NBA games doesn’t mean you have to throw money at every game.

Poor Management of Your Bankroll

Understand what your wager size is and have a plan. Many novice bettors lose a couple of bets and start wagering more. They completely abandon their bankroll strategy. It’s important to know how much your bet amounts and when they should change.

How to Bet on the NBA

Let’s recap a few things we’ve talked about plus add a couple of other tips as you get ready to place your first NBA bet. Here’s what you should do.

Do Your Research

Don’t rush. It’s such a common rookie mistake. Take the time to figure out a strategy and do your research. There is no point in making quick bets because you will just burn through all of your money.

Find the Best Odds and Value

One of the best things about online betting is that you can find the best odds and lines. Compare the odds on different sportsbooks to see if there are any differences. You might find a sportsbook that has better odds on the game you are looking to bet. This helps you get the best value for your bets.

Find a Reputable Sportsbook

Choose legal and regulated sportsbooks. These sportsbooks have to follow strict rules and guidelines. They are the best option for placing wagers and keeping your personal information safe as you start betting on NBA games.

Place Your Bets

You are ready to place your first bet. Fill up your bet slip, add your wager amount, and click submit. Follow the action and hope you placed the right bet. You can also live bet during games if you think you have a feel for which way the game will go.

Best NBA Sports Betting Sites

There are several sportsbooks to choose from when you are looking to place your bets on NBA teams and games. Here are a few to consider when you go to place a bet.


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FanDuel Sportsbook is one of the best sportsbooks for live betting. It has also made the same-game parlay famous across the industry. Sports bettors can combine multiple picks into one bet on the same game for a chance to win big.

The sportsbook runs promotions and offers throughout the year. These have included bonuses such as a “No Sweat First Bet.” This means your first bet at FanDuel is covered if it loses up to a certain amount.


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DraftKings is another popular sportsbook with a solid user interface and betting options. You are able to bet on a long list of college games making it one of the most common NBA betting options.

Promotions in the past at DraftKings have included offers such as bet $5 and get $200 in bonus bets. New users should check the latest offers and take advantage.


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Caesars has a tremendous rewards program and has made a name for itself in the betting scene. In the rewards program, you can earn points for placing bets. These can be redeemed for rewards.

The sportsbook has had great offers such as a first bet on Caesars. Your first bet is covered if it loses up to a certain amount.


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BetMGM is another major player in the sports betting industry. The sportsbook has live betting, competitive odds, a solid interface, and more.

The sportsbook has offered promotions such as First Bet Offers of up to $1,000. This means your first bet with the sportsbook is covered if you end up losing.


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The PointsBet Sportsbook has some unique betting options that separate the book from its competition. Users can participate in “Points Betting.” You can earn more money based on the result of the game when betting point spreads.

PointsBet has offered Second Chance Bets as promotions. Users can get their first loss replaced with bet credit from the sportsbook.

How to Bet on NBA Games FAQs

Can I bet online for NBA games?

Yes. You can bet on NBA games online. There are several states where sports betting is legal and online. The sportsbook will use geolocation to confirm you are within the borders of a legal state and can start placing wagers.

What are common NBA bet types?

The most common NBA bets include moneylines, spreads, totals, and props. You will find these bets at the top sportsbooks across the country

What is an NBA point spread?

A point spread is a bet looking at the margin of victory in a game. For example, the Bulls are +6.5 underdogs vs the Timberwolves. The Bulls would need to lose by six points or less or win the game to cover the spread.

Do sportsbooks have basketball odds for every NBA game?

Yes. The top sportsbooks will have moneylines, spreads, totals, and more for every NBA game. It’s one of the most popular sports and leagues bet on in the entire world.

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written by

Sam hails from Grandville, Michigan. He has a rich sports background, including playing baseball at Central Michigan before covering high school sports and working with the Orlando Magic. He earned his broadcasting/journalism degree from Central Michigan University and was a member of the 2010 MAC Championship baseball team. Sam developed his expertise while working with Betsperts, Bleacher Nation, and 4for4 in various areas such as writing, social media, betting research, and business development. He's a big fan of the NBA, NFL, and MLB, highly interested in data and statistics.

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