How to Bet on Basketball: Key Tips

Written by:
Don Shapiro
Published on:

Basketball has become one of the biggest and most popular sports in the world attracting millions of fans not just in the US but all around the world. It has become especially bigger in recent times in the States due to the rise of legal sports betting.

Ever since the supreme court struck down the law that blocked it in 2018, millions have been able to get access to legal sports betting methods. Now, over 2/3 of US States have some form of legal sports betting be it online or in person. With the playoffs currently in full flow NBA is one of the most popular sports to wager on. DraftKings Sportsbook currently have the Boston Celtics as favorites to take home the championship this season.

With sports betting only becoming legally available to so many just recently, some may feel like they are playing catch up. But have no fear. This is where we can help. Lets go over some key tips including the markets you can bet on and how best to wager on the NBA.

To start with, lets go over how the odds work. Each and every market is priced with either a positive (+) or negative (-) number. A positive odds bet tells you how much you would win from a $100 wager whilst a negative price tels you how much you would need to wager to win $100. For example, a $100 bet on a +200 market would win you $200 plus your stake back. A -200 market bet however would win you $50 from the same wager.

Most Common Bets

Moneyline – The moneyline is the most straightforward bet you can make on any sport. You are simply wagering on the final result of the game. When betting on the NBA this includes overtime.

Point Spread – The spread is a very popular bet to place on ball sports. A spread is essentially a virtual handicap/advantage given to the favorites and underdogs respectively by the sportsbook. So if the spread line is set at 6.5, imagine the favorite starts with a score of -6.5. They would need to win by 7 or more clear points to win the bet. With the underdog, they must lose by no more than 6 points or win the game.

Total – This is just as easy as it sounds— You are betting on the total number of points to be scored between both teams to be over or under the number set by the sportsbook. For example, if the line for an NBA game was set at +/-203.5 you would need 204 or more points for the over or fewer than 203 for the under.

Player Props – Player props are some of the most exciting bets to place. These are placed on specific milestones to be reached by players e.g. points scored, assists, rebounds etc. This season the likes of Joel Embiid would have hit the most on overs (33.1ppg), Domantas Sabonis on rebounds (12.3rpg) and James Harden on assists (10.7apg).

Top Tips

Pay attention to form and trends – Betting blindly is never a good idea. Try to keep up with the trends of the markets you are betting on according to the teams or players you are backing. For example, this season the Warriors were the best team to back the over points total with a record of 35-21-2.

Road form matters – This one kind of branches off from our first tip but is specifically important. Even the best teams in the league can struggle on the road and so it does not pay well to follow them blindly. For example the Denver Nuggets finished the regular season as top seeds in the West with probably MVP winner Nikola Jokic impressing all year. However, despite their final placing they actually finished the season with a negative win-loss road ratio at 19-22.

Listen to the experts – Although plenty of research is needed to confidently place a sports bet, you don’t actually have to do it all yourself. Thankfully thousands of hours are dedicated every season by betting experts into stats and analysis of bets. If you don’t have time to research your bets as well as you would like to take a look at the YouTube channels, podcasts, articles and more that have done it for you.

Hopefully through this article you have gained a better understanding of how to bet on the NBA and will be able to bet with more confidence. Always make sure you know exactly what you are wagering on and remember that no bet is a sure thing so only bet what you can afford to lose. Of course, the most important thing when betting is that you enjoy yourself and when you are fully aware of the bets you are making it makes it much more easier to do so.

- Don Shapiro,

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