Point Spreads in NBA

Point Spreads in NBA

Like in the NFL, NBA point spreads are among the most popular markets available for sports betting. The spread has been a staple in NBA betting and is among the first markets to open at sportsbooks. While it can be more affordable to bet, betting NBA point spreads can also be trickier and may thus require more careful consideration.



What Is NBA Point-Spreads Betting?

NBA point spreads are how oddsmakers make two teams “equal” for betting purposes. They do this by assigning a points handicap for each team, which is determined by a computer algorithm.


The points handicaps are added or subtracted from the team’s final score. If the team’s score is still better than the other’s, the wager is won. A team that is given a negative spread like “-7½” is the favorite. 7½ points are deducted from their final score, while a team given a positive spread like “+7½” is the underdog. 7½ points are added to their score.    



Factors to Consider for NBA Point-Spreads Betting

NBA point spreads can be difficult to beat. There is a reason why it is popular: it is both challenging and rewarding, and both “good” and “bad” teams stand an equal chance of “beating the spread”. Of course, some teams perform better than others, so here are a few things to consider when betting the spread:


+ How the public and media perceive a team factors heavily into the spreads oddsmakers assign them. This is aside from how good the team actually is. Look at preseason outright odds as the title favorites will likely get hefty spreads.


+ Moving deeper into the season, a team’s recent performances will adjust their spreads. If said favorites are underperforming and constantly losing spreads, you may see a point or two get shaved off from their spreads. But not always. 


+ ‘Home court advantage’ is also a big factor for point spreads. Home teams in the NBA tend to perform better than road teams, so it is pretty common to see home teams favored on the spread. 


+ Injuries, missing players, and any roster changes can impact a spread significantly. It also depends on the players who are missing the game. A superstar that will miss the game could deduct more than a few points from the spread.


+ Being rested also plays a part here as an advantage or a disadvantage. Teams on the second night of back-to-back activity may play differently than those with the standard one-day’s rest.



Pros vs Cons

🔷 Pros:

🔹 The point spreads allow bettors to get a better return on favorites while it also gives underdogs more leeway. It is a more “balanced” approach to the moneyline.
🔹 You can parlay point spreads and get a better return than parlaying moneylines.
🔹 Since NBA point spreads are released very early, they can be more prone to discrepancy, which allows bettors a chance to capitalize if a spread is set too high or too low.


🔶 Cons:

🔸 As with most things related to sports betting, point spreads can change when you have already placed a bet on it. An injury or significant factor may also play a part here.
🔸The NBA can be notorious for “bad beats” – these are instances when a team scores unnecessary points during “garbage time.” 



NBA Point Spreads Betting Examples

 Every NBA game will feature a point spread, and they can show up in many ways. Let’s go through a few examples in this section. NBA point spreads in a sportsbook could look something like this:


Mavericks logo Dallas Mavericks +5 -110

Warriors logo Golden State Warriors -5 -110


In this example, five points will be added to the Dallas Mavericks’ final score (+5) while five will be subtracted from the Golden State Warriors (-5). The game is played and Golden State defeats Dallas 109-101. The winning side belongs to the Warriors. 

Golden State’s 109 points minus five equals 104 points, which still defeats Dallas’s 101 points. On the flipside, if we add five points to Dallas’s 101 points, it is 106 and still short of the Warriors’ 109. 


In the event that the final score difference is exactly the same as the spread, in this example, five points, the bet is a “push”. Your stake will be returned. Consider this a “draw”.   


The next set of numbers beside the spreads are the odds. Both are set at -110, which is the standard line when spreads are opened. This is an American odds format and indicates how much you have to bet to win $100. In this case, -110 means you bet $110 to win $100. 


These odds can change depending on the type of action (bets made) that one side gets. Let’s use another example:    


Knicks logo New York Knicks +6½ -115

Nets logo Brooklyn Nets -6½ -105


In this example, the Knicks’ odds have moved, thanks potentially to a) getting one-sided support from bettors, or b) a “sharp” (a bettor a book highly respects) has placed a wager on them. In this case, you get a better return when you bet the Nets at -105 though not by too much.




NBA point spreads are a challenging but rewarding way to bet on NBA games. It affords bettors the chance to bet on teams at a close-to-equal playing field.



NBA Point Spreads Betting FAQs

1. How to Read NBA Spreads?

NBA spreads are as they read: “+3½” or “-3½”. Unlike the moneyline, this is not your potential payout but rather how much is added or subtracted from the team’s final score, respectively. The positive number indicates the underdog and the negative one is the favorite.

2. How Do NBA Point Spreads Work?

Point spreads for NBA work by adding or subtracting a set amount of points from a team’s final score. If the spread is a positive number like “+5”, the team gets five points added to its final score and if it is “-5”, it loses five points.

3. Do Point Spreads Go Into Overtime in the NBA?

Yes, overtime counts for your spread. Whatever the final scores are, whether it’s from overtime or regulation, these will be the scores from which the spreads are calculated.

4. How to Calculate Your Own NBA Spreads?

Your NBA point spreads are calculated using a computer algorithm. If you want to calculate your spread, add or subtract the spread to your team’s final score. If your team’s score is still higher than its opponent’s, they “beat the spread.”

5. How Accurate Are NBA Spreads?

NBA spreads are usually accurate, as they are computer-generated. However, nothing is perfect and sometimes a spread may be set too high or too low, thus giving bettors an opportunity to take advantage.


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