NBA Betting Guide

Betting on any sort of sports is as easy as anything, all you need to do is predict the winning team, and you are good to go. But betting doesn’t end there. Many games, including the NBA, gives options to bet on different side bets which can give you options to bet on other factors. And if you are willing to go pro with the betting career, it’s important that you do your research. To make sure that you get the most out of your buck by placing the bets, here is an NBA betting guide. 

What is the NBA?

NBA stands from the National Basketball Association. This league was first formed by the major ice hockey arenas in Canada and US. Originally known as the BAA or Basketball Association of America, this started off back in 1946.

basketball player in action

Player in action

The first ever game was played in Toronto between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knickerbockers (Currently known as the Knicks). By the late 1940s, the BBA signed clubs from the rival leagues such as the American Basketball League (ABL) and the National Basketball League (NBL).


basketball court

In 1949, the BAA signed with the rest of the clubs of NBL and changed the league’s name to NBA, which stands till date. By the mid-1950s, NBA got a total of 8 clubs, and many of the former NBA teams had either merged or gone defunct. All of these clubs are part of the league today. But many have since relocated or changed their mascots, so it’s hard to figure them out unless you know each of their histories. 

How To Bet On The NBA?

Basketball is considered to be one of the most fast-paced professional team sports ever. The game has an end-to-end style with high-scoring options, which is what makes the games exciting for both the bettors and the fans. The rules for basketball are pretty straightforward, but the betting market range in a simple to complex terms. 

NBA betting: Understanding the rules

The NBA is supposed to be the elite of the professional basketball leagues from around the world. Keep in mind though that the rules for basketball stay universal for all the leagues. The NBA has 30 teams split into the West and East conference. Each of these has 3 divisions. The 30 teams play a total of 82 games throughout the regular season.

Basketball court floor

Basketball court floor

The 8 teams from these 30 qualify to the knockout round until the winner is chosen in the NBA championship. Betting on the NBA can be both simple and complex, depending on which way you want to go. There are more straightforward options to go with, or more complex ones if you are really up for a challenge. It’s important that you learn about the NBA betting markets first, to see what it takes to come out as a winner each time.  

basketball info graphic

basketball info graphic

Markets / How to bet on the NBA: Basic bet types

Money Line

The money line betting in NBA betting is as simple as it gets. You basically put a bet on the team you think will win. Your bet wins when your chosen team wins. This is one of the simpler types of bets, which is why it’s also one of the most popular ones.


This is slightly more advanced than the money line betting. The teams here are given either a positive or negative point handicap. This is to perceive the differences in abilities. If a team is a clear favorite in the game then they will get a negative handicap which they will have to overcome for the bettor to win. On the other hand, there is the positive handicap for the underdog, which acts as a head start.


For this type of bet, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. This bet lets you bet on the total number of points scored by both the sides. It can be either over or under a figure set by the bookmaker.

Quarter and half betting

Other than betting on the basic markets, bettors can also place their bets on the first half or first quarter of the game. The options such as Handicap, Money Line and Totals still stand and act exactly the same, but the time period for each of them is reduced.

If a team is quick in the beginning but starts to lose towards the end of the game, betting on them to win on the first half or quarter will make sense. For both teams to rack up points early on the game, a bet on the over for either the first half and first quarter is possibly a popular choice.

Outright markets

The outright betting markets for the NBA can be the choosing the ultimate winner of the championship, total seasonal wins of a particular team, the winner of the MVP award, eastern and western conference winners etc. Betting on these markets is different as they cover a longer period of time. This could include the 82 games of the regular season of the NBA or even longer.


Live betting options are available on many NBA betting sites, and it is an additional way to have fun during the NBA. Live options let the bettors place their bets in real time, which can change due to many factors such as injuries, weather etc. Live betting options can offer more exhilarating fun to the overall game. 

NBA Live

NBA Live

NBA Odds

Fractional Odds

The fractional odds are one of the most commonly displayed ways of odds on most online sportsbook you will come across. These are displayed by putting a slash or hyphen between two numbers. So something like 3/1 or 3-1 is a fractional odd. This essentially means that for putting every $1 on a wager, you will win $3. Basically this means that by putting a $100 on a 3/1 or 3-1 bet, you will win or lose some specific amount of money. If you end up winning, say, for example, you will get $300 on profit plus the initial betting money of $100.

NBA Odds 888Sport

NBA Odds 888Sport

Decimal Odds

These type are mainly used on the European continent, and also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The decimal odds are displayed as two different numbers in front of the opposing teams. Say for example a particular game is showing the odds A: 2.50 and B: 1.00. From here you can get an idea of the bet. If you place a $10 bet on team A and it ends up winning, you will get a potential return of $20, because the original stake is added to the winning amount.

American Odds

American odds are different from the aforementioned ones. The opposing teams will have a positive or negative sign in front of them, depending whether they are a Favorite or an Underdog. The Favorites will have the -, while the Underdogs will have the +. Say, for example, Team A will have +250, while team B will have -100. Since team A is the Underdog, it means you will win $250 for making a $100 bet. As team B is the Favorite, it means you will need to place a bet of $100 in order to make a profit of $100.

Major events

These are all the upcoming major events for the upcoming NBA season. Note that these are all tentative dates, and they might change due to unavoidable circumstances.


  • 5th January – 10-day contracts get signed.
  • 10th January – Contracts get guaranteed for the rest of the season.
  • 15th January – Deadline for signing NBA two-way contracts.
  • 17th January – NBA London Game 2019, New York Knicks vs. Washington Wizards (London).
  • 7th February – Trade deadline at 3 PM ET.
  • 15th – 17th February – NBA All-Star 2019 (Charlotte, NC).
  • 1st March – Deadline for a playoff eligibility waiver.
  • 10th April – End of the regular season.
  • 12th April – NBA playoffs 2019 roasters set at 3 PM ET.
  • 13th April – Start of NBA Playoffs 2019.
  • 21st April – Deadline for NBA early entry eligibility at 11:59 PM ET.
  • 29th- 30th April – Start of conference semifinals (Can be moved up to 27th – 28th April).
  • 14th May – NBA draft lottery 2019 held at Chicago.
  • 14th – 15th May – Start of conference finals (Can be moved up to 12th – 13th May).
  • 14th – 19th May – Draft Combine 2019 held in Chicago.
  • 30th May – Start of NBA Finals 2019.
  • 10th June – Deadline for NBA draft early entry entrant withdrawal at 5 PM ET.
  • 16th June – Latest possible date for the finals 2019.
  • 20th June – NBA Draft 2019. 

NBA Favorites

For bettors to make better judgments in terms of wins, there is a need to learn about the favorites. Albeit, the favorites don’t always win, but it does help in making decisions. The NBA has two conferences, and the favorites are listed from both these.

Western Conference

  • The Warriors are looking strong, and their title odds are over 44%. The rest don’t even hold a 20% chance of taking the trophy home.
  • The Rockets have shown a roller coaster ride so far this season, but they still hold the position for the second best team in the West. The win projection is just under 50. The odds to win the conference are more than 16%. The odds are 3rd best with the title at 8.5%.
  • The Clippers also are projected to finish at number 13 in the west.
  • As for the Mavericks, the expected total is just over 35. The projected record for the rest of season makes it 20 – 34. 

Eastern Conference

  • The Raptors has the best record based on the first 2 months of the season. They are projected to finish that way with 59 wins.
  • The Wizards recently made a big trade to fix some of their problems, despite being one of the most disappointing teams this season. After the tradeoff, the playoff chances turned to 31.4%.
  • Indiana is the hottest team right now, after winning 7 games in a row. Projected to finish 5th in the east in the regular season standings, Indiana has the chance of about 10% in the eastern conference championship. The long shot bet at 20 – 1 odds can be worth a shot.
  • For the Magic, magic seems to be the right name. After analyzing the most recent data, they have more than 66.4% chance to make it into the playoffs, a feat never happening after 2012.

NBA Betting Tips

Bet When You See Value

To get success from NBA betting, you need to identify the betting values. With no regard to this aspect, you will run out of your bankroll real quick. It takes time to identify value, but with time and experience, you can gain insights to these.

Be Ready to Learn

When you start betting on any sports, it’s basically because you actually enjoy watching that sport. In most cases, this is bad for a beginner bettor, as it can dilute your judgment. Chances are, you think you have a better grasp of the game and its outcomes than you actually do. Recreational betting might be good enough for you if that’s the case, but for professional betting, you need to do much more.

Start with Familiarity

If you are a beginner, it’s better to begin betting on teams you are already aware of or familiar with. Just because there are 82 games and 30 teams playing in the NBA, it doesn’t mean that you need to place your bets on every single match and on every single team. Stick to what you know, and you are more likely to become successful.

Bet on the Markets You Know

The most popular markets are definitely the money line, point spreads and totals. There are dozens of other markets available for each of the NBA games. But you should begin with these 3 first as they are the easiest to understand.

Be Aware of Your Budget

Know how much you can spend without risking your life. Don’t bet your rent on the NBA just because you think you can double the money, it doesn’t work like that in real life. Only spend what you are ready to lose. 

NBA Betting FAQ

Q: Is it possible to make decent money on NBA betting?

A: Yes! There are plenty of people out there who actually make their livelihood from betting on sports. If you do your research and place your bets accordingly, you can make some good cash from it.

Q: How do I get started?

A: Getting started these days is easier than ever, thanks to the online sportsbooks options. Just choose a site, make an account, deposit some money into it, and start betting.

Q: Do I need to learn about the complex bets to win them?

A: No! You can make your bets by using a simple money line bet and still win if your prediction is right. The key here is to make the correct prediction, no matter what method you are using.

Q: Are big bets necessary to win some good amount?

A: If you are looking to make some serious cash, then yes, you will need to make the big bets. But for some recreational fun, betting the minimum allowed is good enough.


NBA betting can be one of the most fun and exhilarating ways of betting, given you know your ground rules. Don’t lose sight as you’re placing the bets, and try to see what is of value while you place them. Like anything else, time and experience will make you a better punter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *