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The only guide you’ll need for betting on the NBA

As we edge closer to the NBA playoffs the excitement levels are through the roof as the final places in the play-in tournament go to the wire. It is sure to be a thrilling finish before we reach the NBA finals, and millions will be adding an extra layer of excitement by placing a bet.

Since the supreme court struck down a federal law that barred sports betting in May of 2018, more states have pushed through bills to legalize sports betting. With over 30 states now allowing some form of sports betting, millions are expected to start betting on the NBA during the playoffs.

For those who are new to sportsbooks, betting could be a little confusing— but it could not be simpler. If you are struggling to get along then look no further than our guide to betting on the NBA

We’ll start with the basics. On a sportsbook like DraftKings, markets are priced by positive (+) and negative (-) numbers. Positive numbers tell you how much you would win when wagering $100. For example, lets say the Nets (-200) are playing the Trail Blazers (+300). In this scenario, a $100 bet on the Lions would win you $300. On the other side, the negative number outlines how much you would have to wager to win $100. So in the above scenario, a $200 wager on the Lakers would win you $100. Of course, you don’t have to wager $100 and to work out the return on a different wager simply adjust the maths. For example, you can deduce that -200 odds would win you back half the amount of your wager plus your wager back. So a $50 bet would win you $25, an $80 bet would win you $40 and so on. Now we have covered the basics of wagering, let’s take a look at the markets available in NBA betting.

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This is one of the easiest bets to place and is the one used in our example above. You are simply betting on the team that you are backing to win. In the NBA, if games are tied during regular time the moneyline still covers the final result after overtime. Whilst it is the easiest bet to make, the moneyline generally offers lower returns when betting on favourites.

The Spread

The spread is one of the most popular wagers amongst sports bettors. The easiest way to explain the spread is that it gives the favourite a virtual points handicap. Essentially, the favourite will start on a negative points total and the underdogs a positive rather than 0. The spread will always be a number set by the sportsbook, with the favourite being negative. A half point is often used to prevent the case of a tie/push. So for example, if in our Nets/Trail Blazers example, you could back the Nets on a spread of -6.5 then they would have to win the game by 7 points or more for the bet to win. Alternatively, you could bet on the Trail Blazers at +6.5, meaning they must either win the game or lose by no more than 7 points. Following a service like Doc’s Sports for detailed information can help you win your bets more easily.


The ‘Total’ is just as simple a bet to place as the moneyline. It is simply an Over/Under on how many points will be scored by both teams combines. Like the spread, sportsbooks set a total that you wager to go Over or Under. So if the Nets/Trail Blazers game had a total of 210.5 you would be wagering on whether there will be over or under that number of points in the game. It is as simple as that.


Player Props

These are some of the most exciting bets to place, especially during the playoffs. A player prop is a bet placed on a player(s) to reach certain milestones during the game. For example these can include the combined number of points, assists and rebounds, the number of threes made, the number of steals and many more. The best thing about these bets is that by putting in the research you can be very successful. Trends are very important in NBA betting and by following them and backing accordingly you can make huge profits.


Unlike all of the markets mentioned above, futures are not bets placed on particular games, rather on future events. For example, you could wager on a particular team to reach the playoffs, to win the NBA finals or to win the conference/division. You could also back players to win awards such as the regular season MVP or the Rookie Of The Year award.

Hopefully this guide has given you a good understanding on how to bet on the NBA. With the playoffs fast approaching, put what you have learnt to good use and make bank!

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