NBA Odds

NBA Betting Lines

Understanding NBA Betting Odds

One of the fastest-growing types of sports betting is NBA basketball. It has become available recently to many more players as more states legalize online gambling and more providers offer NBA betting odds. 

For those not familiar with betting on the NBA or sports betting in general, this guide is an excellent resource for beginning and experienced bettors.  

How Do NBA Odds Work?

When looking at NBA odds on any online sportsbook, they are represented as a number that is either positive (+) or negative (-). The minus sign in front of the odds means that the team is the favorite to win the game, while a minus sign represents the team that is the underdog or the team that is more likely to lose the matchup

The odds also indicate how much a winning bet will pay. A minus before the odds show how much needs to be wagered to win $100, while a plus sign indicates a bet on the underdog with the number indicating the amount won for every $100 wagered. 

Types of Betting

  • Moneyline – A moneyline wager is a bet on the team that you think will win the game outright, without any lines involved. The odds are shown as a three-digit number with a plus or minus to indicate the favorite and underdog for the matchup. 
  • Point Spread – A bet on the spread is the most popular wager in NBA basketball. It encourages action on both teams, no matter how much better one is than the other. The team next to the negative number is the favorite, with the number indicating how many points they are favored to win by. 
  • Total – Betting on the total, or over/under, is a wager on how many total points will be scored between both teams in the game. Players can bet whether the total will go over or under the number indicated. 
  • Parlay – A parlay is a wager that includes more than one bet. It can consist of a combination of a moneyline, spread, or total wager from one or more games. 
  • Teasers – A teaser is a parlay where all bets are against the spread or the total. The bettor will be given more favorable spreads on their picks, with the potential payout being less than a standard parlay. 
  • Futures – These are wagers that can be made before the start of the regular season and predict the season outcome in categories such as who will win the NBA Championship or which player will win MVP at the season’s end. The odds on these types of bets will change as the season progresses. 

Betting Examples

The most popular bet in NBA wagering is the spread. With this type of wager, the team with the negative number is the favorite. For example, if New York is -10 against the Rockets, who are +10, a bet on the Knicks means they must win the game by 11 points or more to win the bet. A bet on the Rockets means they would have to either win the game outright or lose by less than 10 points to win.

When betting on the total, or over/under, say the Knicks and Rockets’ total is 205. To win taking the over, the total points scored by both teams must be at least 206 points. For the under bet, the total points scored must be less than 205 to be a winner.   


How long before the start of an NBA game should you place your bet?

A few hours before the start is a good time as it permits you to learn which players are on the injury report and may sit out of the game.

Can I bet on NBA games legally online?

Betting on NBA games is legal, depending on where you live. Check the laws in your state to see if NBA wagering is available.

Can I place a parlay across multiple NBA wagers?

Yes. Just like many other sports, parlays can be placed across several bets.

What’s the best type of bet to place on the NBA?

It depends on the knowledge and skill of the bettor and how much risk they’re willing to take. But, of course, the most popular bet is the spread bet.
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