Understanding how NBA odds and lines work is critical to betting on the sport successfully.
Here at Ballislife, we spend lots of time analyzing teams across all of basketball, with the NBA at the top of the list. We’ve developed a guide to help you understand how this side of the game works. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about NBA betting odds and lines.
While the NBA season may be winding down when we’re writing this, this guide has been created to help with the remainder of the 2022-23 season and for seasons beyond, as the tips, strategies, and information aren’t based on any single season.
Below, we’ll go over the different bet types to know when it comes to NBA betting odds, how to get started betting, and more.
Throughout this page, you’ll see us use terms like NBA betting odds or lines—these are similar terms that can be used differently depending on the wager you want to make.
As mentioned, there are different ways you can bet on the NBA, and directly below, we’ll cover them in extensive detail, providing examples using real-life games happening today.
But first, let’s go over how to read the odds that we’ll talk about.
Whether looking at NBA odds or odds from another sport, you can read them similarly. Here, we’ll look at odds through the lens of either winning $100 or wagering $100. We do this because it helps simplify things.
Let’s start with determining the favored team and the underdog:
When looking at odds, you’ll see a “-” and a “+” assigned to either the odds, NBA point spread, or both. The “-” indicates the favored team, and the “+” is the underdog.
So, with betting odds, think of it like this—all odds with a “-” in front of it illustrate how much money you’d need to wager to win $100, while the “+” shows how much you would win if you bet $100.
When it comes to NBA lines & odds, no wager is more straightforward to understand than the moneyline.
When you make a moneyline wager, you pick who will win the game outright. However, as you know, with the NBA, some teams are far better than others, which will be reflected in the odds.
As seen above, if a team has a moneyline of -340, they’re the favorite, and you’d need to wager $340 to win $100. Conversely, if a team is +120, you’d win $120 if you bet $120.
You can also read it like this:
While the moneyline is picking the straight-up winner, we also mentioned that, in the NBA, there are teams that are better than others. Well, the point spread is designed with that in mind—it’s a number that NBA sportsbooks come up with for each game in an attempt to make the game as fair as possible.
Like with odds, the “-” shows the favored team and the “+” the underdog; however, with the point spread, there’s another way to view it.
When the game starts, the score is, of course, 0-0. However, if you bet on a team that’s -13.5, you can pretend that, from the start, they’re down 13.5-0. On the flip side, if you bet on a team +13.5, you can pretend they’re in the lead.
In addition to the betting odds, which are always at or around -110, you’ll also need to keep the point spread in mind.
If you can’t decide which team will win or determine with the point spread in mind, the third-most-common wager in sports betting is “totals”.
Totals, also known as over/under bets, allow you to wager on the combined point total in the game. With this bet type, you’ll see the total points line and wager on whether you think the final score will be more or less than the NBA game lines assigned for that bet.
As seen in the example below, we have a line of 218.5. The odds here are similar to the point spread in that it’ll always be at or around -110.
So, if you bet the over at 218.5 and the final score was 110-109, you’d have 219 points, which would be just enough to win the wager.
|Cleveland Cavaliers||Over 218.5 -110|
|Brooklyn Nets||Under 218.5 -110|
The futures betting market allows players to predict events at or toward the end of the season. Popular examples include betting on who you think the winner of the NBA Finals will be, which teams will win each conference, division winners, MVP winner, Sixth Man of the Year, and more.
These wagers are available even before the start of the season, where you can get some great value. However, as the season progresses and the league starts to take form, you’ll slowly see the value deteriorate because, naturally, some teams pull away while others don’t.
Like a moneyline wager, this bet type will have multiple selections with odds attached. Futures are a great way to capitalize on betting odds value. However, these wagers can tie money up for months, so most players don’t take advantage of it.
If you’re going through the daily slate of NBA games and find multiple contests you feel confident in a wager on, you can put them in a parlay to receive improved betting odds.
There are two types of parlay bets in sports betting—traditional and the newly added Same Game Parlays. With a traditional parlay, you’ll pick multiple games, add them to a betslip, and wager on the odds comprised of both teams and the additional risk. With parlay wagers, you only win and receive a payout if each contest wins.
Let’s run through an example:
As you can see, independently, you could bet on two contests with “-” odds, but together, you get +263. Again, both games would need to succeed for you to win. If the Nets win and the Magic lose, the parlay loses.
The other type of parlay you can engage in is the Same Game Parlay. This parlay allows you to focus on one game. However, there are some limitations. For example, you can’t parlay the moneyline and point spread together.
However, you can create a Same Game Parlay combining the moneyline, total, and a player prop.
Like a traditional parlay, each thing you bet on will need to “win” for your parlay to settle as a win.
In addition to the more typical wagers, NBA prop bets are also wildly popular. There are three types of prop bets in the NBA:
As you’ll see with all props, you’ll either bet with straight-up odds or with an over/under line.
Some popular team props include predicting the over/under of an individual team point total, whether the points will be even or odd, and NBA second-half lines for points.
As opposed to a single player or team, game props encompass the entire game. Popular game props include the “race to a certain number of points”, whether a game will go to overtime, the winning margin, and more.
Of all prop bets, player props are easily the most popular and most recognizable. This is where you’ll bet on the statistical performance of a single player, including their points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, three-point shots, and more.
If you miss an opportunity to bet on a game before it starts, you can now wager on it while it’s actively going on.
With live betting, you can wager on most of the markets above; only the odds, lines, and point spreads shift rapidly as the game unfolds. Every made/missed basket, foul, or turnover can alter them.
As you can see, a lot goes into NBA odds and lines. There are multiple betting markets to choose from. Understanding those, how to read odds, and how to get started are essential as you decide to make your first wager.
If you’re a newer bettor, we encourage you to bookmark this page and return as you prepare to make your first wagers at your new favorite online sports betting sites.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
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