Updated: December 2019

How to Bet on the NBA

8 May 2019

The NBA is the worlds most popular Basketball tournament, and basketball seems an easy enough sport to understand. Two teams of five play a match across four quarters, scoring points for throwing the ball through a hoop and the winner is the team who scores the most by the time the match finishes.

But, successfully betting on the sport isn’t quite as simple as that.

What is the NBA?

The National Basketball Association, founded in 1946, in the North American men’s professional basketball league.

Thirty teams are split down the middle into either the Eastern or Western Conference, and then those fifteen are again split into three divisions.

Each team then plays 82 matches during a regular season, with 41 at home and 41 away. These matches cover games against every other team in the NBA, with:

• 16 matches against teams in the same division
• 36 matches against teams from other divisions in the same conference
• 30 matches against teams from the other conference

The top eight teams from each conference at the end of the regular season qualify for the play-offs, where each team plays another in a best-of-seven match. The first team to reach four wins advances to the next round until there is one team standing in each conference.

Those two teams then meet in the NBA Finals to determine the champions for that season.

Betting Markets for the NBA

There are several betting markets available for the NBA, with most of them pretty easy to understand.


The Moneyline bet is the same as match betting in soccer, with the punter backing a team to win at given odds. Because overtime is played in basketball, the draw isn’t a possible result so this market is just a two-horse race.

Spread Betting

Spread betting is the equivalent to handicap betting. In basketball betting this tends to mean both teams will start at the same given betting odds, but one team will have a handicap to overcome. This handicap could be 10.5, meaning they would need to win the match by 11 points to be successful.

Over/Under Total Points

The bookmaker will set a points target, for example 205, and the punter can wager a bet on either under or over this number of points being scored during the match. The total points scored by both teams combined is used for this market.
Half and Quarter Betting

The above markets are also available to bet on but for the first quarter or the first half. Markets include:

• First Half Moneyline
• First Quarter Moneyline
• First Half Point Spread
• First Quarter Point Spread
• First Half Total Points Over/Under
• First Quarter Total Points Over/Under

Outright Betting

As in most sports, bettors with a long term gain in mind can place bets on the end of season outcomes. These punters can bet on markets including the winner of each conference, the outright NBA champions, total number of wins for a team during an entire season, and the MVP (Most Valuable Player) for the season.

How to Bet on the NBA

The difficult bit about betting on the NBA is finding a strategy that works and trying to understand that the best or in-form team doesn’t always win. Here are a few tips of things to take note of when betting on the NBA.

Home Advantage

One of the main things to look out for when betting on the NBA is which team is at home. This can be slightly confusing because the away team is generally listed first on the fixtures list and at some bookmakers. So, you need to make sure you know which team is at home before betting.

The reason this is so important is that there are many factors that can come into play. You must remember that teams will need to travel extremely long distances, to cities in different time zones, and sometimes play at altitudes they aren’t used to.

All of these factors can have an impact on the outcome of a match. Especially when the home team is playing an opponent who have played away in their last two matches, in different time zones. Fatigue can set in for those away team players and make it much easier for the home team to pick up the win.

Stick to a Market

A solid tip when it comes to betting on the NBA is to find a market you are successful in and stick to it. You may be better at the over/under total points market than you are at picking a winner in the moneyline market, so stick to what you’re good at.

This is especially the case if you are relatively new to NBA betting. Do not waste money betting on every available market when there’s one you are better at.

Research the Stats

Obviously, this is important with regards all sports betting and the NBA is no different. In fact, the NBA is probably the sport with the most statistics available in the world.
This can help the punter work out how many points on average a team scores, number of times they have been involved in matches where the total points were over/under, records against other teams, and other useful stats.

Pay attention, make notes, and find the statistics that can help you become more successful and make a profit betting on the NBA.

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