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A point spread is the margin of points that oddsmakers generally set between the team favored to win the game and the underdog. That number is based on several factors, including player availability, head-to-head records and each team’s performance. 

If the game is considered a close matchup, you can expect to see the point spread as low as a point. If it’s a game between one of the best teams in the league and one of the worst teams, the point spread could be around 15 points, if not higher.



How to Bet on NBA

Point spreads are considered a popular form of betting because they are available on multiple sports betting sites and easy to understand.

Most of the time, it comes down to whether you think the favored team will win, and do so by more than the point spread.

When the favored team wins by more points than the point spread, that means they “covered,” or “beat” the spread. If the underdog loses by fewer points than the spread or outright wins the game, they’ll also “cover” the spread.

Tips, Tricks And Advice For NBA Betting

In the NBA, we know things can happen in an instant. For example, if the Brooklyn Nets are playing the Detroit Pistons -in other words, one of the better teams in the league versus one of the lesser teams- then the Nets could elect to rest Kevin Durant hours before the game.

The spread would probably be north of 10 points, given the record discrepancies of the teams. However, if you have a feeling the Nets wouldn’t be playing up to their fullest potential that night, the Pistons at -say, +10½ points- might be the play.  

Injury report

It’s a good idea to get out ahead of potential NBA injury/rest news (see the above Durant example) or of other factors, since odds could change close to tipoff. If they don’t, a bettor can lose out on value that’s hard to replicate.

If the point spread margin suddenly shrinks from 10½ to 6½ points in this theoretical Nets-Pistons game, but you placed a Pistons’ bet at +10½ and they end up losing by seven-to-nine points, the bet would win since you placed it earlier. 

However, if you bet the Pistons after the odds changed and that same outcome happened, it’s a losing wager.

Ignore the percentages

Another piece of advice to consider when betting is to ignore the percentages. Instead, you should do your own research on the latest trends, identify advantages and trust the gut before placing your bet. 

Percentages can vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, anyway.

Focusing on individual battles

For example, if you know that Rudy Gobert is capable of shutting down just about any big man in the league, and the Utah Jazz are playing the Philadelphia 76ers, you should take that under consideration since the Sixers rely so heavily on Joel Embiid’s post scoring on a nightly basis. 

Track your bets

If you want to get serious about sports betting, one of the best things to do is to track your bets. Identify your betting patterns and what’s valued in making your bets. See if it is, or isn’t, working. 

If it’s not working, return to the drawing board and make adjustments, same as athletes when their performance is off. You only learn and get better by identifying where things went wrong.

Don’t chase losses

After losses, place your next bet the way you normally would, rather than trying to recoup the money you lost earlier. If you try to chase the losing bet, it could end up depleting your bankroll rather quickly.

It’s also important to stick with your process instead of changing everything because you had a losing wager. You’re going to lose a bet, but if you’re succeeding most of the time, stick with that process. 

If you are continuously losing, try making minor adjustments before going too crazy.

NBA Betting Trends

Professional handicappers use public betting trends data to determine the value of their bets. This allows you to see behind the lines to understand what is causing the line to move. 

Instead of only knowing that the line opened at Denver -7 and moved to Denver -8, bettors will know that 88% of the public is betting on Denver -7, which led to the sportsbook moving the line to Denver -8. This will give you better insight as to why a line moves and which team is more valuable.

Contextualizing trends is also an important factor when placing your bets. Another example would be if the Phoenix Suns are 10-2 against the spread at home, note their level of competition and whether they earned wins against legitimately good teams (Golden State Warriors) or whipped inferior (Orlando Magic).

It may be hard to roll with the underdogs often when placing bets, though sometimes it’s best to trust them, especially when the point spread is so wide.

If the Toronto Raptors, a good young team with a championship a few seasons ago, play the Boston Celtics, and the Celtics are favored by 5½ points. Consider a bet on Toronto, since it has an excellent shot of keeping the final score within the spread.

NBA History

The Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946. It played for three years under this moniker before merging with the National Basketball League in 1949 and becoming the NBA. 

In 1946, the BAA had 11 teams. However, four of those teams were lost before the start of the next season. Despite losing four teams, the BAA was enjoying a lot of success against the NBL. In 1948, the BAA was able to attract four NBL premiere franchises to join it.

The merger of the two leagues in 1949 brought 17 teams together, but the new league quickly lost its way. Six years later, the number of teams was just eight. The league was plagued with financial problems . 

This was particularly true for NBL teams that joined during mergers in smaller markets. Fred Zollner, the owner of Fort Wayne Pistons and a former NBL player, was crucial in keeping the NBA financially sound during this period.

From 1955 to 1961, the NBA had eight teams. The Chicago Packers joined in 1961. The Packers, now known as the Washington Wizards, are not considered the first expansion team. That distinction goes to the Chicago Bulls since the Bulls joined the league in 1966. The league saw an expansion boom from 1966 to 2004, with 21 teams joining.


NBA betting is fun because of many variables that can happen at once.

Teams, schedules and trends are significant when determining which direction to go, and if you understand the tendencies in play, you should be able to get the desired result most of the time. 

There are so many possessions throughout the course of an NBA game, and point totals tend to be somewhat high. Thus, if you understand which teams bring it defensively to each game, you should be able to get the results you want most of the time.

It just takes practice, persistence and an overall commitment to the craft. Remember to have fun with it along the way.

NBA Faqs

Is It Legal to Wager Real Money on the NBA?

You can bet on the NBA in most states of the U.S. You can also wager real money on betting sites such as the ones we have included on our list.

Is It Possible to Place NBA Bets Online?

There are many online sportsbooks that offer odds on NBA games. We have compiled a list of the top online sportsbooks and listed them below.

What Does It Mean to Bet In-Game?

When a bookmaker takes a moment to review the events and offers a new line, you can place a bet “in-game.” This kind of wagering is growing in popularity.

What Is the Best Type of Bet to Place on an NBA Game?

Your skill, knowledge, as well as your risk tolerance, will determine the best bets. You may prefer to stick with simple moneyline bets or over/under bets if you’re looking for a simpler bet. Spread bets or prop betting may be more suitable for advanced bettors who want to be more detailed.

What is Handicapping?

Handicapping is a way of predicting the outcome of a game. Different people may weigh different factors, depending on how they view a particular game.
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