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NBA Betting Explained

This is the Definitive BettingBrain.com Guide to NBA Basketball Betting and was written to give bettors a complete understanding to betting on NBA games.

The NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. This sport is televised the world over and the game’s biggest stars are household names. Due to the popularity of the game, gambling goes hand and hand with the NBA. On each and every game there are a huge variety of bets available. Here you’ll see an explanation of all the bet types you’ll be able to place.

NBA Point Spread Bets

The point spread is the most popular bet when it comes to the NBA. This market (also known as sides) is one where the odds makers will try to ensure that each team has a 50/50 chance of winning, and they do this by taking what they consider the right amount of points from the favored team.  Here is an example:

Lakers         +8.5   -110
Heat            -8.5    -110

The sports-book considers that the Heat is 8.5 points better here. If you back the Heat, your bet will win only if they win by nine points or more. If you back the Lakers, your bet will win if either the Lakers win, or if they lose by eight points or less. In both cases, the odds of -110 mean that a wager of $110 will see a profit of $100 if your bet wins.

NBA Totals

When betting the totals, you are trying to predict whether the total amount of points in the game (by both teams combined) is under or over the line given by the book. Here is an example:

Over 198.5      -110
Under 198.5    -110

In this game the sportsbook considers that 198.5 is the expected number of points, so you’ll either go under or over that number. In both cases if you were to bet $110 you would win $100 if you are correct.

NBA Money Line

In many ways, the money line is the most straightforward bet in the NBA, and it is simply a wager on one of the teams to win. Unlike the point spread and the totals, the odds will vary here, meaning lower odds on the favored team, and higher odds on the underdog. Here is how the point spread bet above might look in the money line market.

Lakers           +280
Heat               -300

If you back the Heat you’d have to wager $300 to make a profit of $100. Backing the Lakers here, for $100 you would make a profit of $280. As you can see, the odds are much worse on the Heat here without the spread, but much better on the Lakers.

In all of the above three bet types, the books will offer odds which are always relative to $100, however you can place bets of any amounts – and you’ll be paid out on a pro rata basis. For example, if you were to back the Lakers on the money line for just $10, you would make a profit of $28.

Now that you know the basic NBA bets it’s time to form a solid basketball betting strategy, so you can make smarter bets.

NBA – Other Game Bets

As well as the above three most popular bets, many sports-books will offer other markets on each game. These might be a market on which team will be leading at the end of a particular quarter, which team will reach 20 points first or whether one player will score more points than another. On the more popular games, examples being the all-star game or the NBA finals, the odds makers will offer an even greater variety of interesting markets.

NBA Futures Betting

As well as markets on individual games, you’ll also find markets for the much longer term. The main example of this is the winner of the NBA finals, and this market will be available pretty much as soon as the final basket is sunk at the end of the previous season. You’ll be able to place a bet here both before the season starts and throughout the season.

You’ll also be able to place a bet on the winners of the Conference Finals. As well as the playoffs, you’ll be able to gamble on which teams will win their respective divisions – you might think that the Clippers are a good bet for the Pacific division for example.

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