NBA Betting Guide

Basketball is an increasingly popular sport when it comes to betting, with the NBA undoubtedly being the biggest and best competition in the world. Punters can now bet on their favourite teams and players from stateside with a number of bookmakers, with the franchise growing in popularity in India too. This page will tell readers everything there is to know about betting on the NBA, perfect for both beginners and experienced customers.

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What is the NBA?

The NBA was originally founded back in 1946, while it is now widely recognised as the best basketball league in the world. The competition is separated into two divisions, the Eastern and Western Conferences, with 30 teams making up the two. Teams are based in both the US and Canada, with the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers having been among the most successful over recent years. The NBA stands for the National Basketball Association, with the first ever game having taken place between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knickerbockers.

Basketball Dunk

Basketball Dunk / Image by Shutterstock

How to Bet on the NBA

Action from the NBA is among the most fast-paced and exciting from the world of sport, with the game being end to end and high scoring. As a result, there are a wide range of options when it comes to betting on the NBA, with bookmakers introducing new markets all of the time. In order to better understand the different options, let’s take a closer look at the rules of basketball and the NBA.

Keep in mind that contrary to other countries around the globe, at some American countries such as United States the swap the position of HOME TEAM and AWAY TEAM. Some betting sites may do the same: For Example: CHICAGO BULLS@NEW YORK KNICKS means CHICAGO BULLS is the AWAY team and will be playing at NEW YORK KNICKS stadium

NBA: Understanding the Rules

Despite the NBA being the elite of professional basketball worldwide, rules are standard across the board. The NBA features 30 teams split into the Eastern and Western Conference, with each playing a total of 82 games during the regular season. The top eight teams from each conference qualify for the season ending playoffs, with the winner being crowned the NBA Champions. There are both straightforward and complex betting options when it comes to the NBA, so let’s discuss some of the standout markets which are available on the majority of betting sites.

NBA Markets

The number of NBA betting markets differs from bookmaker to bookmaker, however there are a small amount of options which are available across the board. For those looking to place bets on the NBA, the following markets are on offer:

  • Alternative Game Totals
  • Alternative Point Spread
  • Race to 20 Points
  • Double Result
  • Winning Margin
  • Team with Highest Scoring Quarter
  • Game Total – Odd/Even
  • To Win Outright
  • To Win Group
  • Winning Conference
  • Who Will Win the NBA Championship

Money Line

Money line betting on the NBA is as simple as it gets. Customers are required to place a bet on the team in which they think will win a game. Bets will win if your chosen team comes out on top. This is one of the simpler types of bets, which is why it’s also one of the most popular ones.


Handicap betting is slightly more complicated than money line betting, with teams here being given either a positive or negative point handicap based on their perceived ability. If there is a clear favourite for a particular game, then they will be given a negative handicap in which they must overcome in order for punters to win. Elsewhere, positive handicaps are offered for underdogs, which acts as a head start.


For this type of bet, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. Customers are able to bet on the total number of points scored by both the sides. This will generally be either over or under a figure set by the bookmaker.

Quarter and half betting

Other than betting on the basic markets, punters also have the opportunity to bet on the first half or particular quarter of a game. Options such as handicaps and money line still stand, however the time period is reduced.

Outright markets

Outright betting markets surrounding the NBA range from backing the ultimate winner of the championship, total seasonal wins of a particular team, MVP award and Eastern and Western conference winners, among others. Betting on these markets is different as they cover a longer period of time.


Live betting options are available on many NBA betting sites, with this form of wagering being perhaps the most exciting. Live options let customers back their favourites in real time, with factors such as injuries and sin bins potentially having an impact.  

NBA Odds

NBA odds come in a range of formats, which include the following:

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Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are the most commonly used odds across the world, with a hyphen used between the two numbers, whether it be 2/1 or 11/8. Taking the first option as an example, this means that for every $1 wagered, customers will win $2 in return.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are mainly used in Europe, with two different numbers being found in front of the opposing teams. For example, the New York Knicks will be offered odds of 1.50 against the Chicago Bulls, who are available to back at 2.50.

American Odds

American odds are different from the others, with opposing teams having a positive or negative sign in front of them, depending on whether they are the favourite or underdog. The favourites will have the -, while the Underdogs will have the +. For example, Team A will have +250, while team B will have -100. This effectively means that you will win $250 when placing a $100 bet. Meanwhile, as team B is the favourite, it means customers must place a bet of $100 in order to make a profit of $100.

Major Events

During the NBA season, there are a number of standout dates that must be looked out for. The following are the most important dates during 2019, which will potentially have an effect on which teams and players customers will bet on.

  • 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 Favourites

The Golden State Warriors have now won the NBA title for two consecutive years, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the process. In fact, the two teams have met in the final for the last four years, with the Warriors having come out on top three times. For the 2019 season, the following statistics are worth looking into:

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.
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NBA Betting Tips

As with any sport, it is important to have a strategy when betting on the NBA. As a result, our experts have put together the following tips in order to help you along the way:

Keep Things Simple

While more obscure markets can be appealing due to the odds on offer, it is important to keep things simple when betting on the NBA, particularly at the beginning. Whether it be betting on your favourite to win the NBA title or the Golden State Warriors to win at home, consistently placing such bets will see you beat the bookmakers.

Stick to What You Know

Whether you are completely new to the world of the NBA or consider yourself something of an experienced pro, it is important to stick to what you know. Those whose knowledge is not as good as others are unlikely to be able to successfully predict each and every game from the NBA, meanig that it important to stick to teams in which you have some information about. All teams have different tactics and strategies, meanig that it is difficult to predict games.

Do Your Research

As with any sports betting market, it is important to carry out research before placing bets. There is nothing worse than being undone by an unexpected player absence or lack of confidence surrounding a team, with a vast amount of information being available online today.

NBA Betting FAQ’s

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

A: Absolutely! There are a large number of customers who make their livelihood from betting on the NBA, among other sports. As a result, those doing their research and placing bets accordingly are able to make some significant earnings.

Q: How do I get started?

A: With a number of bookmakers now operating online, the first step is to select the betting site that best matches your needs. Choose a site, make an account, deposit cash and start betting.

Q: Do I need to learn about complex betting markets to win them?

A: No! Punters are able to place simple bets on a consistent basis in order to meet their objectives, with the key being to make the correct predictions, 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. However, for some recreational fun, betting smaller amounts is good enough.