How to Bet on the NBA – Online Basketball Betting Guide

Your Guide to NBA Betting

Table of Contents

By Jason Radowitz

Sep 30, 2021

The NBA is one of the more popular sports in America. When the season begins, sportsbooks take notice and provide many different wagering options for all NBA games.

Many sites will hand out different promotions and deals to keep you loyal on their site throughout the entire NBA season. It’s important to understand the ins and outs before placing your NBA bets this season.

When looking for a site that works for you, there are plenty of criteria to sort through to find the best site.

Where to Bet on the NFL

Caesars Sportsbook

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How to Pick a Basketball Betting Site

Everyone has different goals when it comes to sports betting. Some users are looking to win the lottery with a heavy dosage of parlays, while others just want to steadily win a couple bucks on straight against the spread wagers.

Here are some criteria that sports bettors will use to pick the sportsbook that best suits them.

User Interface

To some, the user interface matters the most. This user doesn’t care for the best odds or the best promotions.

Instead, they care about being able to navigate the site to find exactly what they’re looking for. If this sounds like you, finding a site with the best user interface is crucial.

Welcome bonuses

If you’re looking to earn some free cash and dip, finding the sites with the welcome bonus is crucial.

Caesars Sportsbook, for example, is giving up to $5,000 in risk free bets for first-time customers. There is no other site giving this much risk-free money out to first-time users.

A site giving away the most money via a deposit match or risk-free bet is crucial if this sounds like the type of bettor that you are.


Many sites have promotions beyond just welcome bonuses. There will be many sites that give out absurd odds boosts and interesting promotions for big games.

On opening day, sites like DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, PointsBet, and many more will have a promotion centered around the league being in action.


Serious bettors care about odds the most.

You’ve heard this plenty of times, but handicappers will always stress finding the best lines and to shop around. Finding sites that give out the best odds helps bettors win long-term.

If you’re looking to bet on the full season of the NBA, finding a sportsbook with the best odds every given night will be crucial when it comes time to check on your profit at the end of the season.

Payment Methods

Some sites have a limited amount of payment options, while others allow countless different types. If you’re only comfortable with using a certain payment method, you’re going to want to find a sportsbook that has a payment method that you can trust.

All payment options that are offered on any legal site are safe and secure, but for those who struggle trusting other options, a large number of payment options is crucial for sports bettors

Betting Types

Not every site has the same betting options and types.

For instance, if you’re looking to bet first-quarter team totals, you’ll have to find the sportsbook that offers those types of wagers. There are many sportsbooks that offer those types of wagers but not all of them.

If you’re looking to bet on types beyond the moneyline, total, and spread, finding a site that gives a lot of betting types is crucial.

How to Place an NBA Bet Online

  1. Find a sports betting site that best suits you. As mentioned previously, some of the best include FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM, PointsBet, and many more. Just make sure these sites are legal in your state.
  2. Click The Game Day promotion link on the sportsbook review page of that particular book.
  3. Make a deposit on the site. When you do this, make sure to read the welcome bonuses before depositing money. Some sites have a welcome deposit up to $1000 for your first deposit. You don’t want to waste your first deposit on a $20 deposit.
  4. Learn the rules of betting and come up with a bankroll.
  5. Place Your Bets. Again, make sure your first wager is connected to any welcome bonus that the site is promoting at the time.

How to Find Value When Betting

To find the best value when betting on sports, go to the Betting Odds section of The Game Day where you will find the best sports betting odds, lines and spreads from legal markets in your area.

This is an odds comparison so that you know where the best odds can be found for the selection you’re looking to wager.

For example, hypothetically speaking, the Milwaukee Bucks are playing the Brooklyn Nets with the Nets favored by four points. At BetMGM, the Nets are favored to win the game at (-160), while at DraftKings, the Nets are favored at (-140).

If you’re looking to take the Nets in this game, finding the Nets at (-140) is clearly more valuable than grabbing the (-160) at BetMGM.

It’s always crucial to find the best odds for each game you bet and by line shopping, you will find the best value when betting on the NBA.

How to Read NBA Betting Odds & Lines

Anytime you see a “-” next to a number, this means there’s a greater than 50 percent chance your wager hits via the sportsbook’s odds.

Conversely, anytime there’s a number with a “+” before the number, your wager, via the sportsbook’s odds, has a less than 50 percent chance of hitting.

Basically, any number with a “-” next to it shows you how much you’d need to bet to win $100. If you see a (-150) wager, you would need to wager $150 to win $100.

A “-” number is a favorite, while a “+” number is an underdog.

Types of NBA Bets Online

There are many types of ways to bet on the NBA legally online. Let’s break down the most common types of wagers.

NBA Moneyline Bets

A moneyline bet is the easiest and most common wager in the NBA. All you have to do is pick which team you expect to win the game.

If the Bucks are (-160) and the Nets are (+150), you can put $160 on the Bucks to profit $100, or you can put just $66.67 on the Nets at (+150).

Because the Nets are an underdog, you would need to wager less to profit more. With the Bucks as the favorite, you’re going to have to lay more money out to profit a smaller amount of money.

However, the Bucks being favored give the bettor a greater chance of winning the bet, which is why you have to wager more money to win less.

NBA Spread Bets

For every NBA game, there will be a spread given out along with a moneyline and total for the game. A spread is where the favorite gives points away or where the underdog gains points in a game.

Let’s say the Bucks and Nets are playing. You will see the Nets +4.5 and the Bucks at -4.5, with both teams listed at (-110) odds.

This means that there’s a 50/50 chance that the Nets lose by more than 4.5 points or lose by less than 4.5 (or win outright.) If you select the Nets at +4.5, you’re rooting for the Nets to win outright or lose by four points or less.

If you grab the Bucks as favorites at -4.5, you’re hoping the Bucks win outright but also win by five points or more. If the Bucks win but only win by three, the Bucks -4.5 wager would still lose.

This type of betting helps bettors get better odds instead of laying a high amount of money on a favorite that would have a smaller payout.

NBA Totals

Totals are among the most common wagers in NBA betting. When you’re betting on a total, you’re betting on the amount of points each team scores.

If the total is set at 220.5 points, you’re either rooting for or against both teams to score over that total. These totals are usually around (-110) odds unless you choose an alternate line.

If you bet the Over In a game with a total of 220.5, you’re hoping both teams combine for 221 or more points in the game. If you select the Under, you’re rooting for both teams to score 220 points or less in the game.

NBA Teasers

A teaser is a combination of multiple betting selections in one bet slip that involves changing the spread or point total of a game by four points. If one of the bets in the teaser loses, the entire wager loses.

The advantage here is that you gain four points for every selection. If you’re doing a spread teaser in the NBA and you’re looking to select the Knicks -4, Suns +7 and the Lakers -6, with a teaser, you can change the spreads to the Knicks +0, Suns +11 and the Lakers -2.

By adding four points to each wager, you have an enhanced chance of winning. However, again, if one wager loses, the teaser loses.

NBA Parlay Betting

In short, a parlay is just like a teaser except you don’t get to change the odds. However, most sportsbooks now offer alternate lines, so you’re really able to select any type of line you’d like.

To put together a parlay, you need at least two selections in one bet slip. Every time a new selection is added, the odds increase and the payout increases along with it.

There are profitable ways of going about parlays, but many will use this as a get-quick rich scheme, which is not the right way to use them.

In a parlay, you can bet teams on the moneyline, against the spread, or the total of the game. Any of those wagers can be included in a parlay.

They’re extremely fun to root on, but the chances of hitting them are slim.

NBA Round Robin Betting

A round-robin bet is similar to a parlay where you are combining multiple wagers into one larger wager. You will start by adding all of your favorite bets into your bet slip.

However, before you submit your bet you will have an option to choose “round-robin” on the bet slip at most sports betting sites.

This is a great way to hedge your sports betting picks, as all of your picks are added into different betting slips as doubles. What this means is, if you are looking to wager on three games in the NBA, you can have all of your wagers doubled up.

This helps in case one of your bets goes wrong. You will still win money thanks to your two-team parlays paired up without the one single bat that loses.

NBA Prop Betting

NBA prop betting allows you to make wagers regarding things that happen in the box score but don’t ultimately have an effect on the outcome of the full game.

By this, I mean that you can bet on different players to score over or under on their points, assists, rebounds, or you can bet on team totals for a given team.

The outcome of these bets don’t rely on the actual outcome of the game. but are a fun way to get action in a game. Betting a player prop is just like having a fantasy basketball team, and betting on a team to score on their team total is better than worrying about their defense in that particular game.

Prop bets can be an essential type of wager to make a killing in sports betting.

NBA Futures Betting

Futures wagers are tough. Not only do you have to wager on an outcome before the season or during the season, but you then have to also wait until the end of the season to get your money — assuming the bet even cashes in the first place.

You won’t be seeing that money for a long period of time, but to some, it’s worth it if they think they have an angle.

You can bet on markets like the NBA Finals Champions, the MVP Award, Rookie of the Year award and so many other intriguing types.

The odds on these bets can be extremely good, and the payout can be very appealing if you think you have an edge. It’s like putting money away in a safe and hoping you remember the code without writing it down.

NBA Live Betting

Sportsbooks now allow you to wager on live NBA games. If you’re watching the game and notice one team playing better than the other, you can bet on it instantly.

Sometimes, markets don’t even change their lines when a player gets injured, which is something you should always take advantage of.

Live betting is really crucial for those with great knowledge of the game. If you understand the game and the direction it’s going, live betting is extremely profitable.

In general, basketball is a game of runs. Finding areas where a team lets up a 10-0 run and calls a timeout as a favorite is usually a good spot to bet them live.

Every team allows big runs, but if a team is a favorite, there’s also a good chance they’ll go on a run too.

How the NBA Playoffs Work

The NBA Playoffs is a multi-round tournament that ends with one team being crowned the champion. The winning team must navigate through four rounds, playing a best-of-seven series in each.

Before even thinking about betting an NBA Playoff game, sportsbooks will dish out odds for the series. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers could be taking on the Utah Jazz in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

The series would have a moneyline, spread, and total wager for the entire thing. This means you could bet the Lakers to win the series.

These markets allow bettors to hedge as each game is played out. There’s tons of value when it comes to playoff series wagers, which helps to decipher good bets on a game-to-game basis.

Here’s an example of how to bet in the playoffs:

Let’s say the Jazz lead the series 3-2 against the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. For Game 6, the Lakers are favorites at (-140), at home, but to win the series, the Lakers are (+150), since they are still trailing.

Instead of taking the Lakers at (-140) in Game 6, there’s tons of value on them at (+150) to win the series instead.

Hypothetically, if the Lakers defeat the Jazz in Game 6, the Lakers would then become favorites in Game 7 and you’d have a (+150) ticket that you can hold or hedge to guarantee a profit.

How the NBA Finals Works

The NBA Finals is a seven-game series with one team needing to win four games to win the championship.

In the Finals, most coaches will never go deep into their bench and will stick to playing their starters for a lot of minutes. On one side, you might see some fatigue out of players, which is why bettors love to take the Under.

Bettors will also favor the Under in the Finals because of the belief that more defense is played in these games in comparison to the regular season.

However, you can’t always just go on that kind of data. Go off of the statistics and analysis that you’re looking at. Follow your gut in the playoffs. It’s much harder to bet than a regular-season game, and there will be many more bets on each game with tons of opinions.

Personally, I love to bet the regular season but tone my wagering down in the postseason. The strategy of fading bad teams ends when the playoffs begin since they aren’t in the playoffs.

Place NBA Bets You Like

There are so many intriguing and fun ways to get involved with betting on the NBA. I love betting the typical moneyline wager and rooting on one team to win the game.

Personally, I’ve found that wagering on team totals has been very profitable. Everybody has their own niche, but finding teams that can score points is mine.

I’d advise any bettor to stick to one or two niches when it comes to sports betting. The more you get good at looking at one area, the better chance you have of winning a wager.

I’ve also enjoyed player props. Before sports betting became extremely popular, fantasy sports was the main thing. Betting on players to perform is just like fantasy sports and a great way to engage yourself in sports betting.

Again, find the wager types that you understand the most and just keep getting better at finding the best spots in that area. Those are the most exciting bets to make because you’ve put all your effort into it and then get to watch it cash.


By Jason Radowitz

Jason Radowitz is a jack of all trades when it comes to writing sports. Jason writes and bets the MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAAF, and NCAAB when the sports are in season. Currently, he's a Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day providing daily content in the MLB. Earlier in his sports career, Jason was a graduate assistant for the University of Men's Hartford Basketball team using analytics and numbers to help put together the winningest season in program history. With his articles, you will be sure to get an analytical approach.