Betting on the NBA
The NBA is a real sports betting gem. There is nothing else quiet like it.
The length of the season, the heavy schedule and high points turnover make it an incredibly exciting sport to bet on.
The NBA is currently on a par with the MLB in the US in terms of popularity, but when it comes to betting it has more of a global reach.
The most common form of betting on basketball is a spread, as the point system is a perfect match with the nature of the sport.
We have listed all the popular forms of NBA betting below.
The best sportsbook for NBA betting in NJ
Betting on the NBA in NJ is huge. In the first year of legalised online sports betting, the state received an incredible $823,596,443 in wagers.
This means that NJ based sportsbooks have placed a large emphasis on NBA betting, so you have a wide selection of choices.
Our top picks are:
DraftKings and FanDuel established themselves in the fantasy sports world before moving into online sports betting when it was legalised in 2018. They set up shop in NJ very early on, and are a top choice for anyone based in the state.
Sugarhouse began as a brick and mortar sportsbook and casino in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before moving online and expanding into NJ in 2018.
Bettingscanner recommends for NBA Spread Betting
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Picking the best sportsbook for NBA spread betting
It might seem strange to look for a sportsbook with the best spread betting instead of the best moneylines. Of course, moneylines remain one of the most popular forms of betting when it comes to the NBA, however you can usually find a much better value in spread betting.
We have already explained why that's the case; the high points turnover. But it's also that you usually get a strong favorite in NBA game, which means that moneylines - backing a winner - are not as relevant.
NBA SPREAD BETTING EXPLAINED
Compared to other sports, a lot of points are scored in Basketball. Add to this the fact that the NBA scoring is at an all-time high - currently, 113.4 points per game - and you can start to understand why sportsbooks and punters alike favour a betting spread.
The spread will reduce the differences between the favourites and the underdogs by giving them a points handicap or points head-start.
The handicap is written as a number preceded by a minus symbol (-), which indicates the favourite and a plus symbol (+) which indicates the underdog.
The Celtic are playing the Wizards and the following opening line is offered:
Celtics -2 (-100) Wizards +2(-100)
This minus means that the favourites are the Celtics and the plus means that the Wizards are the underdogs. This number two refers to the points handicap. The -100 are the odds.
Say you choose to accept this spread and back the Celtics. You place $10 on them to win. This means there could be three potential outcomes to the game:
- The Celtics win by more than two points. You receive $20 ($10 profit and a $10 original wager)
- The Celtics win by exactly two points. Your $10 wager is returned.
- The Celtics lose, or they win but only by a point. The sportsbook wins.
Bettingscanner recommends for NBA moneylines
Top Performer: FanDuel
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They really have proven themselves in the US sports betting market. Now, that they have partnered with the NBA, their selection of basketball bets have gone through the roof!
NBA Moneyline Betting explained
This is the simplest type of sports bet and is thus popular amongst fans of the NBA. However, moneyline betting and the NBA are not a perfect match.
The reason for this is that in Basketball, more than other sports you will get powerhouses playing much smaller teams, creating an imbalance which makes it less exciting, or valuable to place a moneyline bet. Take soccer as an example, which is much lower scoring, and were the favourites are less expected to win, in general, than in the NBA. This makes soccer much more suited to moneyline betting than basketball.
The Warriors are playing the Clippers and the moneyline odds are as follows:
Clippers +700 Warriors -800
You want to back the favourites, so you place a $10 bet on the Warriors.
There are two potential outcomes:
- The Warriors win. You receive $11.25 ($1.25 profit and $10 original wager).
- The Warriors lose. You lose.
Here you can see that if you are backing a strong favourite to win you won’t get much in return unless you put a huge wager, which increases the risk of losing big. That is why moneyline betting is not as popular as spread betting when it comes to NBA bets.
NBA moneyline betting on the LA Clippers vs. the Golden State Warriors
A neat way to learn how basketball moneylines actually work is to work out how much profit you’ll make with your wager. Now, we don’t expect you to sit there with your calculator every time, but working out the logic behind the odds will help you read them in the long run.
Let’s use the same example as above where you place a $10 wager on the Warriors at moneyline odds of -800
To calculate this you can use the following formula:
- Winnings = (your stake / minus moneyline odds) x 100
- Winnings = ($10 / 800) x 100
- Winnings = (0.0125) x100
- Winnings = $1.25
Basketball and moneyline bets are not always a perfect match
Let’s say you put down a $10 wager on the underdog, the Clippers, at moneyline odds of +700.
To calculate this you can use the following formula:
- Winnings = (your stake x plus moneyline odds) /100
- Winnings = ($10 x 700) /100
- Winnings = 7000 / 100
- Winnings = $70
NBA Over/Under or Totals Betting explained
With this type of NBA bet you’ll be placing a wager on how many total points there will be in a match. It will not matter who wins the match. These type of bets are also known as ‘totals’.
The sportsbook will set a predetermined points benchmark and offer you odds either side of this points total. As expected for such a high scoring sport, you’ll see some pretty big over/under numbers.
The Raptors are playing the Pacers and your sportsbook have offered the following juice:
Over 200.5 at -105
Under 200.5 at -110
You feel that this will be a very high scoring match, so you place a bet on over 200.5 points. You are feeling confident, so you place a $20 wager. There could be two possible outcomes:
- The match ends in over 200 points. You receive $39.5 (your original $20 wager and $19.05 in profit).
- The match ends in under 200 points. You lose
NBA Quarter Lines explained
This type of sports bet remains relatively unique in the world of sports betting. As an NBA game is broken down into 12 minute quarters, sportsbooks offer you a ‘meta’ bet, where you can treat a quarter as a single match.
This can work well if you feel a team plays or will adapt their play to start with high intensity and gain an early lead, or vice versa.
Since this is quite a niche type of bet, there will almost always be a reason for it appearing as an option. If you have heard something in the news, it is very likely that your sportsbook has as well and may well have adjusted the juice. Sportsbooks are huge corporations, with specialized teams and computer software processing vast amounts of information. So, make sure that even if there is a method in your decision, the potential returns must reflect value in the bet.
NBA Halftime Lines explained
A 1st half line follows the same concept but only applies to the second half of an NBA game. This type of bet treats the last 24 minutes as its own game. The first half in this instance is only relevant as a tool by which you, as a punter, can predict the second half and to help the sportsbook set their juice.
The Houston Rockets are playing The San Antonio Spurs. The halftime score is 50-48.
The halftime Line is as follows:
Rockets -2 (-110) Spurs +2 (-100)
You feel that Spurs will stage a comeback and win the game comfortably, so you place a $10 bet on them at these odds.
The final result is 90-95.
This means that the Rockets have scored 40 (90-50) points and Spurs have scored 47 (95-48) in the second half.
So, you have covered your spread and will receive $38.18 from your sportsbook ($18.18 in profit).
NBA Parlay Betting explained
This type of bet is a combination of bets, which in turn lengthens the odds and increases the payout.
You can generate a large amount of money if you win a parlay, but it is important to remember that with each bet you add, you increase the risk of losing, as it only takes one loss, for you to lose your whole parlay.
Usually, we would not recommend using a parlay as you often can find a better value in placing single bets. However as long as you don’t combine too many bets, we actually like using this betting form when it comes to NBA betting. Compared to other sports, basketball games are pretty short, with lots of points which means it can make some sense to combine a few of your bets.
NBA Teaser Betting
NBA teaser bets, like parlay bets, are an amalgamation of parlay bets and a spread bets in that you combine bets into one and then receive an adjusted handicap in your favour. This means that you will not get as big a return as a parlay. We like to think of it as a ‘Parlay lite’.
This betting form is easier to understand when you look at an example:
You want to bet on the Bulls +5 and the Pistons -4.5.
If you combine these two your sportsbook offers you a point teaser of 6.5. This will shift the spread to Bulls +11.5 and Pistons -2.
The price you pay for this boost is a lower payout than you would receive with a parlay.
NBA Sportsbook Apps
If you bet using your smartphone in the USA, then a good sportsbook app can be of huge benefit. Currently, all reputable sportsbooks have a website that is optimized for mobile use. However, fiddling around on your browser is less than ideal.
A lot of sportsbooks now offer apps where you can bet on the NBA.
It is a factor which we take into consideration when evaluating which sportsbooks are the best for USA customers. The USA is still lagging behind Europe in terms of online betting, so there are fewer apps available stateside than across the pond.
Even so, not all betting sites in Europe have apps. This is mainly down to restrictions placed on them by Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
To download betting apps, you are often required to change your security settings to allow unrecognized apps, which can frighten some customers or they simply can’t find the app when searching for it.
This, in turn, has led some betting sites to not develop an app.
Live betting or quarter or halftime betting are popular forms of bet form when it comes to the NBA. These only leave you with a limited amount of time with which to place your bet which means an app you are familiar can prove very useful.
NBA In-play bets
Online in-play sports betting sprung onto the scene a few years ago as internet speeds got faster and betting sites looked at new ways to attract punters.
The NBA with its short games, split into four quarters is perfectly designed for quick live bets. But live betting has some requirements that other forms of betting don’t.
- A fast internet connection
- A sportsbook that can load pages quickly
- A user-friendly site that you can navigate with limited time.
There are some additional features that a sportsbook can offer which can vastly improve your experience when betting on the NBA.
- Live infographics which provide you with all the current information. Sometimes streams or TV coverage can lag.
- A live stream. There is currently no streaming from a betting site for NBA matches. You can stream the NBA using some betting sites based in Europe. This may be something that will appear in the future when the sports betting industry is more established in the USA.
Does the NBA consider betting legal?
The NBA originally tried to play hardball with the states demanding an ‘integrity fee’ of 1% for each bet placed on the NBA, but they have since relaxed their view. They have now focused on the opportunities in fan engagement and increased coverage over gaining a financial cut from betting. The goodwill this optimism has garnered so far has meant that the NBA has not stood in the way of the relaxation of betting legislation.