icon imageWhat you need to know about NBA betting

    The NBA season lasts from late October to the Finals in early July. The long season offers an opportunity to really get to grips with each team’s strengths and weakness and hone your sports betting skills.

    The NBA provides high points scoring games with lots of celebrity players that attract the action. Basketball is not just a different game from Football or Baseball, it offers a different risk profile for the sports bettor and its characteristics make it appropriate for a different betting strategy.

    Spread, Moneyline, Parlay/Teaser, 1st Quarter/1st Half, Halftime, and Futures are all bet types that the NBA bettor needs to have in his armory.


    NBA games with spreads as high as 15 points are not uncommon, something that is rare in the NFL. Spread betting is one way to take advantage of these high scoring games. 

    Spread bets work on the basis of the score in a game, but the bet is on the margin of victory not on which team will win. Spread bets are the most popular form of sports betting in the US.

    Spread betting can be thought of as a form of handicapping so that each team has an equal chance of winning.

    If you bet on team A to beat team B, and Team A is a much more successful team, then we add a points spread to equalize the odds. If the spread is set at 10 points, then Team A must beat Team B by 10 points in order to be considered the winner. Spread bets are sometimes known as equalizer bets.

    Let’s take an example:

    • Celtics -2 -110 96
    • Knicks +2 -110 86

    The -2 indicates that the Celtics are the favorites even though the Knicks have the home field advantage.

    The -110 next to the line is the vig or the juice. The vig is the fee the sportsbook charges for taking the bet.

    The final score shows that the Celtics beat the Knicks by 10 points, 96 to 86. If you had bet on the Celtics you would have won because the 10 point margin of victory was well above the 2 point spread quoted.

    If you bet $110 on the Celtics you would have won $100.

    Industry stats show that NBA games fall within .5 points of the spread 5.5% of the time. Given how little variance there is, it is important to pick a sportsbook that offers the best spread for the game you want to wager on.


    The Moneyline is a simp,e bet on who will win. In the NBA, the odds difference between the two teams can become enormous when the top teams pair off against lower ranked teams struggling to average over .500.

    As an example, a moneyline bet on the Warriors v the Spurs is quoted at +600 and -850. In other words, you have to bet $100 to win $650  on the Warriors. But f you want to bet on the Spurs, you need to wager $850 to win $100. Clearly wagering on the favorites risks a lot of money for very little reward.


    A total wager a bet placed on the combined score of each team. It doesn’t matter who wins the game, the only thing that matters is how many points are scored by both teams added together.
    The bookmaker sets  number and you bet on whether the combined score will be over or under that number.

    The bet is often asymmetric, with the over perhaps quoted at -105 and the under at -115.

    Quarter/1st Half Lines

    NBA games are broken down into four quarters of 12 minutes apiece and bettors can put money on the first half or quarter before a match gets underway. 

    Some teams have the habit of starting well then fading over the course of a game while others are slow-starters who regularly come from behind to take the win.

    Obviously the team history determines the odds, but bets are complicated by exactly who their opponents are. Some teams seem to do well against teams that normally would outrank them on any measure. Playing style has a lot to do with this

    Halftime Lines

    Halftime lines are only available during halftime. The betting operators take what happened in the first half to estimate spreads for the rest of the game. It is a bit like having a whole new game to bet on with different odds based on the history of what happened in the first half.


    • Bulls 58 -4 -110 102
    • Pistons 53 +4 -110 90

    If you were to think of the start of the 3rd quarter as 0 to 0, the final score would be 44 to 37, meaning the Bulls would have covered the halftime spread by 3 points. Halftime wagers are not nearly as popular as bets placed before the game, but a winning wager still creates the same profit.

    Parlay and Teaser Bets

    Parlaying bets is essentially increasing them to maximise your earnings off a win.

    If you bet on five matches taking place in one day as a parlay bet, then you have to pick the winners for all five in order to win. If even one of your team picks loses, you lose the entire bet.
    The odds of picking five winners in a row are a lot higher than betting on each match individually.

    A teaser bet is fundamentally the same as a parlay wager except the bookmaker gives you points to increase your odds of winning, but decrease your overall payout. 

    For example:

    If you are wagering on a 4-point teaser and the Knicks spread is -10, it would become -6. This 4-point advantage is included on each part of the teaser wager. 


    With Futures bets you can wager on league events that are far beyond a single game. These can include the winner of a conference or NBA Championship.

    Futures bets can also be used to wager on players’ performance during the eason. Who will be the MVP, who will score the most points in the season, and so on.

    Because the events are in the future, the odds are often very good for futures bets.
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