How To Bet On Basketball

Basketball betting guide

There is no shortage of markets when it comes to basketball betting, and for those of you who are new to the game or at least new to betting on it, here is a guide to the betting markets you need to know about before and during the season.

Outright betting on the basketball remains a great way to make a profit while betting on the premier competition in basketball, but of course you have to have some patience because these types of bets are not ones that pay out quickly, unless you have placed them during the final days of the season.

Read more: Our latest basketball tips and best bets

Outright markets are straightforward – you are betting on subjects such as league champions, conference winners and division winners, and these basketball prediction markets are available all season long so you can wait to see how a team performs before backing them in one of these markets.

So what markets are available? Read on for our basketball betting guide using the NBA (National Basketball Association) as an example…

Basketball Betting Guide


The NBA Winner market is exactly what the title says – you are betting on who will win the NBA Finals and be crowned world champions. This market goes live very early on – you could bet on the 2018/19 Winner market as soon as the 2017/18 season was over – and the earlier you bet on it, the bigger the price you will get in most instances. Every NBA team is backable in this market, but of course the likes of the Golden State Warriors are going to be a short price from the start and those odds will only get shorter if Stephen Curry & Co. continue to dominate the opposition.

Conference Winner

Much like the National Football League, the NBA is split into two conferences with 15 teams competing in the Eastern Conference and 15 competing in the Western Conference. This market does not require you to back the team that will win the NBA title, you just need to back the team that will have the best record in their conference at the end of the season. Golden States’ dominance in recent years means they are likely to be the only team available at very short odds heading into the new season, so that means you can back some of the best teams in the league at decent prices in this market. But of course, those prices will fluctuate as the season unfolds.

Division Winner

Just like the NFL, not only is the NBA separated into two conferences, those conferences are then divided into three divisions of five teams. For this market you do not need to worry about who are crowned Conference champions and who are crowned world champions, you are betting on who will finish top their division standings at the end of the regular season. While some divisions will have clear favourites, others will be wide open and that means a really healthy profit could be made by betting on this market. But as with any outright betting market, the odds will shift around as the season progresses and if one team starts to take control of their division, their price will soon shorten.

Money Line

The Money Line market is just like the Match Betting market in soccer – you are betting on who will win the game. However, this is not an easy way to make a sizeable profit when betting on the NBA because the only way you are going to land a big return here is by successfully backing an underdog to be victorious, and while upsets do happen you really have to be very confident about it to use this market. But don’t worry, that does not mean you should rule out betting on the outcome of a game because this next form of betting offers much more appeal than Money Line…

Read more: Official NBA website

Spread Betting

Ever wanted to back a team to win but think their Money Line odds are far too short for you to claim? Spread betting offers you the chance to back a favourite at bigger odds, while you can also get even larger odds if you are looking to back an underdog.

Spread betting could not be any simpler. The bookmaker will give the favourite a fictional handicap and the underdog a fictional head start. So, for example, if Golden State Warriors were favourites for a game against Chicago Bulls, the bookies could give the Warriors a -11.5 handicap with the Bulls +11.5. At the end of the game, depending on which bet you placed, you would either knock 11.5 points off Golden State’s total or add 11.5 to Chicago’s total. If your team still wins the game after this adjustment, your bet would be a winner.

For example, if you backed the Warriors -11.5 and they won 143-94 like they did in November 2017, they would still be 131.5-94 winners once the handicap was taken off so your bet would be a winner. If they won 119-112 like they did in January 2018, after the 11.5 points were removed they would be 107.5-112 losers which means your bet loses. If you backed Chicago +11.5 and they lost 119-112, you would be a winner because the Bulls would be 123.5-119 winners once you add those 11.5 points on.

The bookmakers offer Spread Betting for every single game and there will always be a variety of handicaps to choose from. Usually it is a case that the bigger the spread, the bigger the price so for those games where one side is a massive favourite, you may end up having to back them to win by a large margin in order to land a decent return.

Over/Under Betting

You can also bet on markets like Total Points, First-Half Points, Second-Half Points, First Quarter Points etc. The bookmakers will offer you a host of options to choose from, it just depends on how many points you expect to see in a game. Are two great defenses going to be on show? If so, go for a low total. Are two incredible offenses going to keep the scoreboard staff busy? Go high.

So, for example, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors went head-to-head twice in the 2017/18 regular season before meeting in the NBA Finals, and in both of their regular-season meetings the two teams combined for in excess of 180 points. So if you expected to see more of the same when they met in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, you could have backed Over 179.5 Total Points. It would not have mattered who had scored what points, as long as the combined points total for your team was 180 points or more your bet would have been a winner. And of course, the bigger the risk with the Over/Under you select, the bigger the reward if your bet is a winner.

Over-Under Betting is a great way to make a profit when betting on the NBA and you will not be short of options each and every day throughout the season because these markets will be available for every match-up from opening night right through to, and including, the last game of the NBA Finals.

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