An Introduction to the National Basketball Association (NBA)
Established in 1946, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is undoubtedly the best basketball league in the world. It’s one of the four major sports leagues in the United States and Canada; the others being Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL).
Only 11 teams contested the inaugural NBA season, but a sequence of expansions means the league now consists of 30 teams: 29 in the United States and the Toronto Raptors in Canada.
Teams are divided into two conferences of three divisions, with five teams competing in each division. The Eastern Conference consists of the Atlantic, Central, and Southeast divisions, while the Western Conference consists of the Northwest, Pacific, and Southwest divisions.
Each team plays 82 games during the regular season, so you’ll have plenty of NBA betting opportunities each week. Following the regular season, 16 teams advance to the NBA playoffs. This best-of-seven elimination tournament features qualifying, quarter-final and semi-final rounds before the championship series.
How to Bet on the NBA Online
Now that you know the structure and format of the NBA, it’s time to bet on the latest games.
Don’t worry if you’re new to betting on basketball and don’t know where to begin. At SBO.net, we’ve helped hundreds of beginners open betting accounts to bet on the world’s most exciting basketball league.
Follow our step-by-step guide below to bet on the latest NBA games online:
Features of the Best NBA Betting Sites
Virtually every online betting site accepts wagers on the NBA, but we understand that so many options can make it difficult to decide where to sign up.
Luckily for you, we have been reviewing the best basketball betting sites since launching in 2011. We’ve done all the hard work for you by reviewing and rating the top sites to bring you an honest an unbiased list of the best NBA betting sites on this page. We’ve helped hundreds of basketball fans find their ideal site for NBA betting, and we’d love to help you.
Betting on NBA Game Lines
There are three game lines that all NBA betting sites offer: moneyline, point spread, and total points (over/under). Below you will find more information on each of these popular NBA bets.
NBA Moneyline Betting
Moneyline betting is the simplest form of NBA betting. There are no point spreads to cover or any other stipulations. You simply predict which team will score the most points and win the game outright (or half/quarter). For instance, you might bet $100 on the Chicago Bulls winning against the Boston Celtics at odds of +200. If the Bulls were to win, you would receive $200.
NBA Point Spread Betting
For each NBA game, there is a standard point spread, with an underdog and a favourite. If you wanted to take the Los Angeles Lakers -5 against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers would have to win by 5 points or more for you to win your bet. If the Lakers win but only win by one point, you will lose your bet. If the Lakers win by exactly 5, the bet is a “push” and your bet is refunded.
NBA Total Points Betting
Most NBA betting sites also offer totals, which is an over/under of combined points of both teams. If you wanted to take the over 203.5 in a Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks matchup, both teams combined will need to score 204 points or more, for you to win your bet.
Alternative NBA Betting Markets
Beyond the typical NBA betting markets, many sportsbooks offer a variety of different betting opportunities, including the above three markets for the first and second halves, and for each of the four quarters. Other interesting – and potentially lucrative – NBA bet types include:
Alternative Game Totals
This is effectively the same bet as total betting listed above but NBA bookmakers offer different lines so that punters have a choice of larger odds. If you think there will be a high-scoring game, for example, you might find very juicy odds on over 200 points.
The double result gives you the chance to select which team will be winning at halftime and at fulltime. This is a good way to boost the odds of a selection, but it does come with greater risk attached. For the bet to win, you must correctly predict the result of both halves of the match.
As stated, this is a bet on the winning margin of your selected team. Your chosen side must win for the bet to land, and you generally have options to back a winning margin of 1-2 points, 3-6 points, 7-9 points, and so on, up to 21+ points. There are some huge odds in this market, but clearly, the risks of losing are far higher.
Betting on NBA Futures
The NBA futures betting market gives you an opportunity to wager on events that will happen in the future. Future bets are always popular among basketball bettors, as they are generally season-long wagers. The best online sports betting sites offer both team and player-specific futures.
NBA Team Futures
Who will win the NBA championship? This is always the burning question on everyone’s lips during the countdown to the first game of the new season. The futures market for the NBA championship lists each of the 30 teams and their respective outright betting odds.
Outright NBA betting odds are often released just weeks after the curtain is drawn on the previous season. This gives you an opportunity to bet on your favorite team, or if you’re thinking with your head and not your heart – the team which has assembled the best squad and has attractive betting odds.
However, the NBA team futures betting market is much more than predicting which team will be crowned champions. You will also find futures betting markets for division and conference winners, as well as more interesting wagers such as which team will score the most points or record the most rebounds during the season.
NBA Player Futures
NBA player futures bets are interesting, to say the least.
The most common of all is the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. Online sportsbooks price hundreds of players before the season even begins, with star players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo featuring among the favourites. As the playoffs draw nearer, dozens of players are wiped from the list as their dreams of becoming an NBA Finals MVP are dashed.
The NBA players’ futures betting market doesn’t revolve around who will be crowned MVP. Here’s some examples of typical player futures that you may find listed at the top NBA betting sites:
- How many triple-doubles will LeBron James score in 2021-22?
- How many assists will Kevin Durant record in 2021-22?
- How many rebounds will Andre Drummond record in 2021-22?
- How many games will it take Giannis Antetokounmpo to reach 100 triple-doubles?
Interestingly, many NBA betting sites accept bet requests. This means you can request odds for a player achieving something during the course of the season. They may reject your request, but it never hurts to ask if you have an inkling that a certain player will exceed expectations.
Betting on NBA Player Props Online
Another popular and profitable niche in NBA betting is player proposition bets. NBA player props allow bettors to wager on an individual player’s game statistics, such as points scored, rebounds, or assists.
Props can be very profitable for some NBA bettors. Often, prop lines will differ from sportsbook to sportsbook, offering value to those who can spot a weakness in a line. Finding the best price with a prop bet you feel has an edge can be a very solid bet.
Historically some players have shot extremely well in certain arenas or against certain teams. For instance, LeBron James has averaged 25+ points per game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, and Indiana Pacers throughout his career. Knowing this stat can help you capitalize when NBA betting lines are set below his average score. Again, this is an example of a trend, so take it for what it is worth.
Take Advantage of Live NBA Betting Lines
Don’t worry if you didn’t have time to place your bets before tip-off time. NBA betting sites also allow basketball fans to wager during the action. The odds change as quickly as players pass the ball from one end of the court to the other, and you can take advantage by capitalizing on live NBA betting lines.
Timing is everything when you bet on NBA games live. Some betting sites update their in-play odds after every basket or missed shot. Every point scored can increase spreads and totals. For instance, the total points line may shift from 220.5 points to 222.5 points after a successful two-pointer, whereas a missed shot could see the line change from 220.5 points to 218.5 points.
Since so many teams come back from large deficits to win NBA games, oddsmakers take this into account when updating live NBA betting lines.
Let’s say the Chicago Bulls find themselves down by 12 points to the Milwaukee Bucks after the first quarter. Although this is a double-digit hole, NBA betting sites may anticipate a Bulls comeback and offer a live point spread such as Chicago Bulls -1.5. Then it’s decision time: do you think the Bulls will put on a clinic to win the game, or do you expect the Bucks to be resilient and cover the spread?
Live NBA betting options are endless. You can bet on everything from the moneyline, spread and totals to which team will score the next point and the number of points a team will score in the next quarter.
Betting on the NBA All-Star Game
The NBA All-Star Game, as the name suggests, brings together the best talent from both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference teams in the NBA. Players are selected to play in the game through fan ballot voting and reserve players are chosen by a group of coaches.
Founded in 1951, the All-Star Game is a one-game match that is extremely popular with fans and showcases some of the best players from within the league. Another cool feature about the All-Star game is the fact that players are usually out of position since starting spots are based on votes cast by the fans to determine position. This always presents interesting NBA prop betting opportunities.
NBA Betting Tips and Strategy
If you love NBA betting it is almost certainly because you enjoy watching the game. You can use this to your advantage to profit from the fast-paced sport. If you are up to speed on the teams and players that are in form, or any other factors that might affect a result, you should have an edge over NBA betting sites and can often find generous odds if the layers aren’t paying attention.
NBA betting can be a challenge to master. As always, be sure to use one of the best NBA betting sites to get the best price for your bet. Whether that be a prop, side, or total, it is imperative to get the best line available when you bet on NBA online.
Here are some other important factors to consider before betting on NBA games:
- Read NBA Injury Reports – Injuries, especially to key players, are factored heavily into NBA betting lines. When injury news breaks, certain games will have reduced limits or may be pulled off the board completely. In some cases, teams will play better despite an injury to a star player. Other times, an injury can be devastating to a team’s chemistry. There are so many “game-time decisions” for players, that it’s especially hard to gauge if a player is going to give it a go or sit this one out. Always consider how an injury will affect a team’s play.
- NBA Scheduling – It is important to be aware of a team’s schedule and how they’ve played coming off back-to-back games. Most teams will go through periods of playing two games in three nights, and this especially affects older squads. Tired legs have led to short jumpers and sloppy basketball. Coaches may give players a rest or slow the tempo down to give their teams a chance to catch their breath.
- Home and Away Form – Some NBA teams may feed off their home crowd especially well and have a great record at home. However, on the road, they struggle. It also should be noted that generally, bench players are most affected when you compare home and road splits. Educate yourself before making a play on how your team reacts to the arena they are playing in.
- Matchups Matter – Another factor to consider when betting on the NBA is matchups. If a team is very weak at center or a backup is starting and they are facing a great rebounding team and/or a great frontcourt, you may want to consider a play. Although this is factored into the line, by knowing the lineups and players, you can help determine how well the oddsmakers are valuing the injury. If you spot a matchup where you see a clear advantage, you may want to look more closely at that game.
- Don’t Overvalue Trends – Some bettors don’t really like to bet/follow trends. We’re very wary of capping solely based on trends because that will surely lose you some money in the long haul. Trends, though, are still viable to use when capping NBA games, but they must not be the only factor. I’m all for betting on a team which isn’t getting the respect of the oddsmakers and has covered the last five games against the spread, but sports bettors must cap based on a variety of factors. So, beware of overvaluing a trend.
Other Major Basketball Leagues and Tournaments
NBA betting attracts the most attention among basketball fans. It is by far the most famous league in the world and its stars are some of the best-paid athletes out there.
However, there is also a big following of the sport in almost every corner of the globe, and most countries have their own leagues of various standing. Such is the popularity of basketball, there are games being played on a daily basis throughout the world.
Below are some of the best competitions if you’re seeking an alternative to NBA betting:
Philippine Basketball Association
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is widely considered the next most popular basketball league in the world after the NBA. It’s the second-longest running basketball league after the NBA and was established in 1975. The history of the sport in the Philippines dates back much further than that after it was introduced (along with baseball) by American teachers through the YMCA and school system.
March Madness is the biggest college basketball event in the United States. It’s a tournament series that consists of a 68-team bracket playing for the chance to advance to the Final Four (the top team from each region) and compete to become champion of the series. The Final Four is played over a weekend ending on a Monday each year and is one of the most watched games broadcasted in the United States.
The EuroLeague, also known as the Turkish Airline EuroLeague for sponsorship reasons, was inaugurated in the year 2000. It is a European-wide professional basketball league for top-tier club sides throughout the continent. Real Madrid is the most successful side in the history of the competition, having won the title ten times to date.
Basketball Champions League
The Basketball Champions League (BCL) is an annual basketball club competition organized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) for club sides which excel in their national leagues. However, the tournament has been the source of controversy as FIBA and EuroLeague basketball wrestle for control of top-level European competitions.
FIBA Basketball World Cup
The quadrennial Basketball World Cup is considered the pinnacle of international basketball, alongside the Olympics. It has been running, in one format or another, since 1950 and is the flagship event of FIBA. Spain defeated Argentina in the final of the 2019 tournament to become champions for the second time. The USA and Yugoslavia have won the prestigious competition five times each.
EuroBasket, also known as the European Basketball Championship, is an international tournament that is contested by 24 European teams. Slovenia will enter EuroBasket 2022 as the defending champions from 2017. Historically, the competition was dominated by the former Soviet Union, who won the EuroBasket eight times in a row while notching their record haul of 14 titles.
Virtually every online sportsbook accepts bets on the NBA. But with so many options to choose from, we understand it can be difficult to decide where to sign up and bet on your favorite team. Check out our list of the best NBA betting sites to benefit from generous welcome bonuses and competitive lines.
NBA bettors have plenty of different bets to choose from, including spreads and totals which make up the bulk of basketball betting markets. Alternatively, the moneyline is a simple bet on which team will win the game without factoring in a handicap.
Over/under bets are popular among NBA bettors. Betting sites predict how many points both teams will score combined (such as 220.5 points), and you bet on whether the total points will be over or under that figure. It’s an exciting bet that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout the game.
When you bet on the spread, you are betting on one team to win the game and cover a points margin set by the bookmaker. The spread is designed to make the odds more competitive as your team must win (or not lose) by a certain number of points.