NBA Basketball Betting Guide

NBA Basketball Betting Guide

Basketball is one of the world’s most popular sports, both to watch and also to bet on. Having worked for a wagering company, I know first hand the volume of NBA bets taken on a daily basis, and also the generous profit margin that the bookies enjoy, particularly on the NBA.

Games are fast paced and often comes down to the final seconds, making for an exciting and hopefully profitable betting outcome. Like with most popular world sports, there are several leagues and organizations around the globe, offering different markets and styles of play for the punters. The most popular league, which we will cover here is the NBA (National Basketball Association).

If you’re an long time NBA basketball fan or a newcomer looking to get in on the action (and possibly a bet or two), you’ve come to the right article. We’ll take  you through all that you need to know about NBA basketball, and then some. Including how to bet on it, the different betting markets and types, and of course tips and strategies to be a more successful NBA punter. NBA betting is quite simple overall, and is a nice place for newbies to get start their sports betting and for experienced bettors to make some long term profits.

NBA Basketball Betting – The Low Down…

Before you can become a pro at NBA basketball betting, you need to make sure you have all of the basics down. Betting on anything that you don’t know well is a losing play and will result in many lost bets. It’s fine to bet dollar amounts to help get you excited to learn a new sport, but when you actually start betting in larger amounts, it’s a different story.

If you are completely new to basketball and don’t even understand the basics of the game, we’ve got some links below that might be able to help you out beyond this article.

To dumb it down to the most basic level, the point of basketball is for a team to try and get the ball through the basket more times that the other team, while also managing to score more points (these two things are mutually given).

Varying amounts of points are awarded for different areas of the court.

The most basic being –

Foul Shot 1 Point
Field Goal 2 Points
3-Point Field Goal 3 Points

We aren’t going to be diving too much into the basics of NBA betting here, as we are looking to focus more on intermediate and advanced betting tips and learning (plenty for the beginners to absorb also though).

How the NBA Season plays out

The NBA season is regarded as the top league in the world, with games played throughout the USA, and Toronto, Canada (Toronto Raptors).

Formed in 1946, the NBA now has 30 teams, separated into 2 Conferences that are each divided further down into 3 divisions with 5 teams in each. Here is the breakdown of teams by conference and division as at 2017.

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division Central Division Southeast Division
Boston Celtics Chicago Bulls Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets Cleveland Cavaliers Charlotte Hornets
New York Knicks Detroit Pistons Miami Heat
Philadelphia 76ers Indiana Pacers Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors Milwaukee Bucks Washington Wizards

 

Western Conference
Northwest Division Pacific Division Southwest Division
Denver Nuggets Golden State Warriors Dallas Mavericks
Minnesota Timberwolves Los Angeles Clippers Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder Los Angeles Lakers Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trail Blazers Phoenix Suns New Orleans Pelicans
Utah Jazz Sacramento Kings San Antonio Spurs

The NBA regular season is 82 games per team, with 1/2 at home and 1/2 on the road.

Each team’s season schedule is played the following way –

  • Each team plays each of their division opponents 4 times per season (16 games total)
  • Each team plays 6 of the teams from the other divisions in their conference 4 times (24 games total)
  • Each team plays the other 4 teams from the other divisions in their conference 3 times (12 games total)
  • Each team will play each team in the other conference 2 times per season (30 games total)

NBA season schedules are generally a lot more rigid than in other sports. The NBA is also one of the few sports where teams play all teams in the league at least once regardless of their conference or division. This creates an equal and fair schedule for all teams, making gauging the strength of NBA teams much easier for the bettor, particularly come NBA Finals time.

How are the NBA Playoffs Structured?

A traditional playoff system determines the NBA Champion.

16 NBA teams make the playoffs each year, with the playoffs beginning late April.

8 teams from each Conference will make the playoffs and are decided by the following criteria:

Teams that make the NBA playoffs –

  • 3 division winners and the team with the next best record in each conference are given one seeds
  • The next 4 teams with the best records in each conference are given the remaining lower seeds

Playoffs then follow a bracket format with teams playing a best of 7 series.

Once a team loses a best of 7 series, they are eliminated, with their opponent moving to the next round. Once a conference champion is decided, the 2 teams meet in the NBA Finals to decide the NBA Champion over another best of 7 series.

Basketball Betting for Beginners

NBA basketball betting is one of the simplest forms of betting in sports.

While more complex markets are available, simple options are the most popular and allow you to get into the action easily without getting confused as a newcomer. As you will read further down, basic markets can have the same potential for winnings as more complex markets. If you still have no idea what we’re on about, we’re going to take you through all of the NBA betting basics and bet types, step by step.

By the time you’re through reading this basketball betting guide, you should know more about betting on NBA than most seasoned punters.

We also have a couple of useful posts to get yourself up to date with betting terms and some common questions from new bettors.

Betting Glossary Betting FAQs

Types of Basketball Bets

Understanding the different basketball bet types is the most important step in becoming an NBA betting machine. If you’ve bet on other sports, you’ll know that the main bet types are very similar. Below are the most common and popular basketball bet types, with links to further pages that we’ve created as a guide to NBA betting. We recommend you read each of these posts as they are a better overall summary of each bet type mentioned in this article.

Total Points Spread Betting
Parlay Betting Moneyline Betting

Basketball Betting Advice

We always tell new bettors to make sure they are learn the common mistakes so as to avoid them.

Take a few minutes and read through the list of tips below that our experts have offered to help you out.

Always check your bet-slips before you confirm

The number one rule as a tradesman is to measure twice, cut once. The same counts for your betting.

Always check your bet-slips before clicking “CONFIRM” to make sure that you’ve actually selected the correct legs. It’s a horrible when you’ve followed a full game only to find out that what you thought was a win was actually a loss. Also highly embarrassing.

It only takes a moment to check that your bet-slip has the correct teams, lines amounts and whatever else you intended.

Check twice!

Don’t make things too complicated

There is a trend in basketball betting where newbies think that the more complicated a bet is, the more profitable it will be.

This is not true.

Seasoned bettors use simple bets and simplest of best to build their winning strategy. It’s ultimately about picking winners and losers and being able to identify trends. Don’t let anyone try and convince you that more complex bets are a necessity to be a winner. These are usually ignorant bettors that think the complex bets make them look cooler.

Be Wary of Trends or Popular Opinion

People and the media have a love for over-hyping things.

They tendency to exaggerate things to create a better storyline means that a lot of the time betting lines will be influenced in a way that they perhaps should be.

It’s important to stick with the data and not get sucked into betting with your emotions. Ask a bookmaker what the best piece of advice is and they almost all say “always bet against the public”.

More information about how the public can sway the lines.

Bet on the markets you know

This tip applies to sports betting and any other form of betting in general.

Pro punters will tell you to stick to the sports that you know. We also want to mention that this extends beyond just sticking to the sports that you are comfortable betting on. To be a successful bettor you’ll need to ensure that within each sport you are sticking to the markets that you are best able to evaluate.

If you find that you are able to judge money lines best, stick to money line betting until you become more familiar with other markets, or don’t.

Whatever method will make you money in the long run is the market to take.

Things to watch for when betting on NBA games

  • Recent matchups – Some teams play well against others and some sub .500 teams have great records against better teams. Pay attention to the last 5 match-ups between teams, as lineups would likely be the similar to the previous season.
  • Home and Away Formlines – It’s easy to find  stats on a team’s performance at home and on the road. The general rule is that teams have a much higher chance of winning at home, but there are also teams that play very well on the road. There is value when two evenly matched teams play, with the travelling team having a positive road record. Take the away team as the underdog.
  • Last 5-10 game results – Teams often go on winning and losing streaks. Watching a team’s form over their previous 5-10 games is a fair indication of chemistry and form coming into a match-up.
  • Back-to-backs and travel – No matter how great a team is, if they are playing back to back (or back to back to back), they will likely be mentally and physically worn out. Likewise, if a team is travelling on a road trip, they will be tired. If a team has rested for a few days, they should have cleared themselves of small injuries, and freshened their minds and bodies. Keep an eye on a team’s history over these stretches.
  • Player injuries  – Injuries on either team can cause a big changes in the lines. Being a 5-on-5 game, the loss of a star player can be the difference between a win or loss, more so than any other professional sporting league. Keep an eye on pre-game reports for injuries and “leave” of players, and you could spot a weak line from the bookmakers.

Online Basketball Betting – The Benefits

The ability to shop for lines 

For seasoned bettors, this is one of the biggest benefit that online betting bring.

Traditionally, you would be forced to accept whatever line is offered by a betting shop of casino without argument. If you didn’t like the line on offer, you would either have to make a bet you didn’t think was smart or shut your wallet and walk away. Very frustrating.

If you’re new to betting on sports, or betting general, you may not know what we’re talking about when we are refer to “shopping lines” and how it benefits the bettors.

Let’s use an example:

You want to bet on the Thunder vs. Bulls game.

You like the Bulls and notice that your local casino that they are a 4.5 point favorite. You head to the casino and place the bet.

As far as you know, you took the right bet…

What if we told you that there was the same bet available at much better odds for you. The casino a few miles down the road is offering odds on the same game, but they only have the Bulls favored by 2.5 points.

In the real world, you must take the 4.5 points on offer unless you felt like making your way to the other Casino (time is precious).

If these were online casinos, you’d be able to easily place your bet at the betting site offering the better line without wasting time.

This one might not seem like a big deal at first, but over a longer period, it becomes much more of a significant problem.

The first line would require the Bulls to win by 5 points or more for you to win your bet. The second line would only require them to win by 3 points for you to win your bet. If the final score were Bulls 94, Thunder 91, you would lose your bet at the first betting site, but win your bet at the second betting site.

You would lock up a win just by taking a few extra moments to check the lines at the other betting site. Online, you can shop lines at many different betting sites in a matter of minutes. So shop around and take the best deal for the market you are looking to bet on. It will 100% benefit you in the ling run.

Comfort and Convenience

If the profit benefits from shopping lines is not enough, the convenience of online betting should entice you further.

Let’s put it this way, would you prefer to get in your car and drive 30 minutes up the road to place a bet on at a physical bookmaker or casino, or lean back in your favourite chair with a nice beer and shop for lines, place you bet and watch all of the action at the same time?

We’d choose that latter every time.

How to get started betting online 

If you’ve decided that it’s a better idea to move your betting to the online (you’ve made the right choice), you may be wondering how to get started.

The first step is to select which betting site that you want to bet with. This can definitely be overwhelming, with so many different options around. We’ve spent hours and hours going through what’s available, looking for the most secure, trusted, free-bet heavy, best lines, and user-friendly sites available.

Once you’ve selected a site/s (remember to line shop you’ll need more than one), the next step is creating and funding your account. The online signup process is very easy and just involves providing a few basic details about yourself and selecting a username and password.

After your account is created, follow the instructions to fund your account. There will be many deposit options, so just pick what you’re comfortable with.

If you have trouble while creating your account, simply contact their customer service ( they’re of course incredibly eager to get you started).

Read our bookmaker review section to find site/s that suit you.

GOOD LUCK!