Search Categories

All About NBA Online Betting: Read Odds, Win Bets

Here is our NBA betting guide for those who want to place bets online and can do it legally at online sportsbooks such as BetRivers or BetMGM. Get your questions answered!

NBA Betting Explained
On this page:

    After the king of all sports betting, the NFL, the NBA is strong second-place holder in the wagering hearts of North American sports bettors. One that the NBA clearly has in its favor is that it is a global game, perhaps second only to soccer in worldwide approval. Basketball can count billions of fans in just about every corner of the planet.

    One factor that makes the NBA a popular betting sport is that of the four major North American sports – the NFL, NHL and MLB being the others – the NBA is the one where the form charts tend to hold with the most consistency. Over the past decade, all but eight NBA teams show a better than 50 percent home-court winning percentage. The top teams in the league win nearly seven out of every 10 home games.

    In the NBA, favorites win just about 60 percent of all games played.

    Here is how to place NBA bets online, build a successful strategy and make profits.

    Types of NBA bets.


    A straight win bet on the outcome of the game, moneyline wagers are calculated based on $100 bets. The moneyline would read Philadelphia 76ers +145 at Boston Celtics -175. In this example, the Sixers are the underdog. If you bet $100 on them and they win, you’ll garner a $145 profit. Favorites are figured in the moneyline based on how much a bettor needs to put down in order to realize a $100 profit. At -175, they’d be required to wager $175 on the Celtics to realize a $100 profit on your bet.

    Point Spread

    Another element that makes the NBA popular with sports bettors is that it offers a point spread system that is identical to what is utilized in football betting. The point spread is designed to enable oddsmakers to balance the books in the betting on a game. If the New York Knicks are -4.5 against the Atlanta Hawks, it means the Knicks are 4.5-point favorites. They’ll need to win the game by a minimum of five points in order to cover a point spread wager on them. As for the Hawks, bet on them and the bet will cash if Atlanta wins outright, or as long as the Hawks lose the game by four points or less. 


    Also called the over/under, with this wager it doesn’t matter which team wins the game. All that counts is the number of points scored by the two teams. If a total is set at 266.5, bettors then wager on whether the final score of the game will be over or under that total. An interesting trend with NBA betting – during regular season play, the under terms to be the more successful play. But in the playoffs, the over carries the day more often than not.


    Props are wagers on outcomes within the event. It could be a team prop, such as which club will be leading the game after one quarter of play. There are also player props, such as over/unders on 3-point field goals made during a game. 


    Future book wagering is for the patient bettors in the bunch. They’re willing to trade the chance to wager a little to win a lot in exchange for having to wait until the end of the season to see if their bet will cash. They might be wagering on the winner of the NBA Finals. Or it could be a player future, such as who will be voted the Defensive Player of the Year. 


    The parlay is similar to the future bet in that you can bet a little and win a lot. Only you don’t have to wait nearly as long to find out if you’ve won. Parlays combine a number of outcomes into one wager. Bettors can put together a parlay card with different games, or they can choose to play a same game parlay, in which multiple outcomes from one game are assembled. Remember, though, that all legs must come in for the parlay wager to cash.

    Live Betting

    The newest form of online sports betting, live or in-play wagering is just what it claims to be. You’ll be wagering on outcomes within the game while the game is in progress. It could be a bet on which team will score the next basket, or which player will be assessed the next foul. If one bet doesn’t cash, another opportunity to make a play is upcoming in a matter of moments. The best sites for NBA live bets are Pointsbet and WynnBet. They offer HD live streaming and fast updates on odds and results.

    Now, let’s take a look at where you can bet on the NBA. 

    How To Read NBA Betting Lines

    When it comes to betting on the NBA, the first step for newcomers is going to be to learn how to read an NBA betting line. During the NBA season, these betting lines can be found by checking in with any leading online sports betting site such as BetMGM or Caesars. 

    A standard NBA betting line features three main items – the point spread, the moneyline and the total. Each element is a separate wager. Here’s what an NBA betting line looks like:

    Team Moneyline Point Spread Total

    Golden State Warriors +125 +3.5 (-110) O 214.5 (-110)

    Boston Celtics -145 -3.5 (-110) U 214.5 (-110)

    The total is the simplest wager to explain. The 214.5 number is the assessment by oddsmakers of how many points will be scored during the game. Bettors wager on whether the two teams will go over or under that total.

    With point spread betting, bettors are getting or giving points, depending upon whether their wager is on the favorite or underdog. In this case, betting the favored Celtics at -3.5 means Boston would need to win the game by at least 4 points to make the bet a winner. Bet underdog Golden State at +4.5 and the bet cashes if the Warriors win, or lose by three points or less. The -110 in parentheses following the odds is the vig or the juice. It indicates how much you’d need to bet on the play in order to turn a $100 profit.

    What Does The Total Mean In NBA Betting?

    Perhaps the easiest method to follow when choosing to be betting on NBA games is through the total. Also referred to as the over/under, the bet simply asks how many points the two competing teams will combine to score during the game. 

    A total for the game is established by oddsmakers at a sportsbook such as PointsBet or BetRivers. Suppose the New Orleans Pelicans are playing the Charlotte Hornets and the total is set at 211.5. That indicates oddsmakers are projecting the combination of points scored will be 211.5. 

    Of course, that can’t be the final total, because teams aren’t able to score a half point. The half point is included to ensure that the game doesn’t finish at exactly the total posted, causing all bets to be refunded.

    The betting play is self explanatory by the over/under name. You’re asked to wager on whether teams will go over or under the total. Odds will be assigned to each play to indicate what the payout on a winning wager will be.

    What Does 224 O/U Mean In NBA Betting?

    One of possible straight bets that is available on the NBA is the total. This wager is also commonly referred to as the over/under, or O/U for short. 

    In NBA total betting, the task assigned to the bettor is about as simple as placing a wager can get. A total of expected combined points scored during the game by both participating teams is established prior to tip off by oddsmakers at online sports betting sites.

    In this case, 224 points is the assigned total. As a bettor, should you choose to play this wager, you must decide whether you are betting on the teams to go over or under this total. 

    Odds will be assigned to both calls on the wager. A total betting line on an NBA game could look something like this:

    Team Total

    Orlando Magic O 224 (-105)

    Miami Heat U 224 (-115)

    In the instance of this hypothetical game between the Magic and Heat, the under is being given shorter odds. That would mean oddsmakers are of the opinion that it is the more likely outcome of the two possibilities.

    The true beauty of the total wager is that it doesn’t matter which team wins the game. The only factor impacting your wager will be whether they combine to hit the same target as you. For example, if you bet the under and Miami beat Orlando 111-103, your bet would be a winner, since the total scored is just 214 points.

    What Does -1450 Mean When Betting On NBA Playoffs?

    The NBA playoffs are about to get underway and the excitement is palpable. Suppose you were to call up the day’s NBA playoff odds through an online sports betting site like DraftKings. You see that the Golden State Warriors are -1450 favorites over the New Orleans Pelicans in the moneyline on Game 1 of their series.

    First of all, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever get such lopsided odds on an NBA game, regular season or playoffs. Putting that number into perspective, the implied probability of victory on a -1450 favorite would be 93.55 percent. A $100 wager at those odds would return a paltry payday of $107.

    It’s more feasible that you’d see odds that are one-sided such as this in NCAA basketball than NBA games. College sports occasionally deliver this level of difference between favorites and underdogs when powerful programs play non-conference games against much weaker opponents, often referred to as cupcakes by oddsmakers.

    Through both live betting and prop wagers, online sports betting sites make available other options for total wagering during the course of an NBA game. There is action offered on the total following the first and third quarter, as well as at halftime. Also, bettors can choose to wager on one-team totals for each of these junctures and of course, for the final score.

    What is Spread Bet and How Does NBA Spread Betting Work?

    In straight betting on the NBA, there are three wagering options available to the player. They can wager on the moneyline, the point spread, or the total. In the case of the spread, each team is assigned a positive or negative point total. With spread wagering, teams are either giving or getting points. An NBA point spread betting line could look like this: Los Angeles Clippers -6.5 over Houston Rockets. 

    What does that 6.5 number mean? In the case of the Clippers, they’ve been designated as the favorite to win the game. Bet on them and you will be laying the 6.5 points. In other words, you will be requiring the Clippers to win the game by at least seven points in order to cover your bet as a winner. The tradeoff for doing this is that you will be getting better odds to wager on the Clippers in the point spread than you would via a moneyline play.

    Should you opt to bet on the underdog Rockets, you will be getting the 6.5 points. In essence, Houston is starting the game with a 6.5-0 lead on the scoreboard in your bet. If the Rockets go on to win the game, great. You’ve won your bet. However, as long as the Rockets lose by six points or less, the spread ensures that your bet is still a winner. 

    In this case, you’ll get lower odds to play Houston as an underdog in the spread than you would through the moneyline. This is the price you pay in order to get those points on your side. But by wagering with the spread, it increases the chances of the bet being a winner. 

    NBA Proposition Bets

    Ever been on a vacation with family and to pass the time on the highway, you begin taking guesses on what color the next car that passes by will be? If so, then you are already familiar with proposition, or prop wagering.

    Prop bets are plays made on outcomes within the course of play during an NBA game. In its simplest term, it’s an educated guess on something that will or won’t happen during play.

    Oddsmakers set totals for a variety of events that take place during a game. Bettors wager on the over or under on that total. 

    Some props will be related to the result of the game, while others will not. An example of the latter could be a prop on which club will be scoring the first basket of the game.

    Props can be both team and player oriented. It might be on total shots taken by the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter. Or it could be on how many three point field goals Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors will hit during a game.

    NBA In-Play Online Betting

    For those who crave action and the people for whom instant gratification must be at their fingertips, live in-play wagering on the NBA was created and designed for you. It will fill your need for all of these elements.

    Live in-play wagering is like prop betting on steroids. Today’s younger generation loves to bet on the NBA. What they don’t love is a lot of down time. Betting on a game and then waiting 2-3 hours for the conclusion to see if they won isn’t part of their DNA.

    This is the sort of approach that live in-play betting was created for, because they will take advantage of the opportunity to bet until their heart’s content.

    Live in-play wagering is like a good friend in that it is always there. From the moment of the opening tip off, through each quarter and throughout both halves, a persistent array of live bets will be giving sports bettors the chance at a get rich hit quickly.

    In fact, some sites will let you bet on which team wins that opening tip, which team scores the first basket, grabs the first rebound, commits the first turnover or is called for the first foul.

    Once the first in a category is established, the live in-play menu switches to next in that department. The next player to hit a 3-point field goal, or the next team to call a timeout.

    Live in-play wagering is designed to give a bettor access to action every minute of the game. If that bet didn’t cash for you, not to worry. There’s another live bet coming right up.

    Live Betting Ramps up Prop Wagering

    The evolution in sports betting that led to the creation of live betting has taken the ability to wager on props to an entirely new level of opportunity. 

    Live betting is designed for today’s instant gratification society, with their obsession for texting and smart phones. Young people today crave action and live betting gives them that action and then some.

    Who will score the next basket? Which player will commit the next foul? Might the next basket be for two points, three points, or a free throw? All of these are examples of live bet possibilities. If you lose one, no fear. Another opportunity to wager is coming right up.

    How To Build An NBA Betting Model

    Just as there are many layers to building a successful basketball team, building an NBA betting model that works will also involve a number of steps. 

    For starters, it’s best to narrow your focus when wagering on the NBA. With 32 teams, following all the action is going to prove quite time consuming. Pick an element to make your pursuit. It might be totals, it could be betting on home underdogs. It’s entirely up to you. 

    Once that focus is established, the next step is to do a deep dive into the data. For instance, let’s say you opt to put the emphasis on betting NBA totals Do the math, put together charts. If the Washington Wizards are playing the Detroit Pistons, you should have the raw data on whether their games generally go over or under at your fingertips. Break it down even further to see the outcome of games in each team’s arena. The more you know, the better your chances to win. 

    Another important factor in any NBA betting model will be your budget. How much discretionary income do you have available to bet on roundball? This amount should be determined before a first bet is placed and must be adhered to religiously. As well, eliminate emotion from the equation. Bets shouldn’t be made on the spur of the moment but only after careful and well thought out research.

    You should never wager more than 5 percent of your entire bankroll on one bet. Thus, if you have a betting budget of $500, then your maximum bet should be no more than $25.

    What Does Double Result Mean In NBA Betting?

    Double the pleasure and double the fun? With double result betting on the NBA, that is indeed a possible outcome.

    A double result wager is a bet that combines two outcomes on the same NBA game into one wager. Here’s how to play a double result bet. Suppose the Minnesota Timberwolves are playing host to the Memphis Grizzlies. Minnesota is a 4.5-point betting favorite in the spread to win the game. The T-Wolves are also the 2.5-point chalk to be leading the game at halftime.

    To place a double result bet, you are going to take both of these outcomes and package them into a single wagering play.

    Straight Bets vs Double Result Bets

    With straight betting, there are three possible outcomes from the wager – win, lose, or draw. A double result best triples the possible outcomes. There is win-win, win-loss, win-draw, draw-win, draw-draw, draw-loss, loss-win, loss-draw and loss-loss.

    The beauty of the double result bet is that these added outcomes increase the odds and thus increase the potential payout. Meanwhile, the reality a bettor must accept when playing a double result wager is that with the potential for greater reward comes greater risk. More outcomes equals more chances to lose. You’re trading the opportunity to cash a bigger ticket for the fact that it’s more likely that you’ll lose.

    Double Result Betting Strategy

    Knowledge is always king when it comes to betting on the NBA and that’s certainly the case with a double result bet. There are going to be NBA teams that are slow starters and strong finishers. Those clubs would lean toward a loss-win play on a double result bet.

    Some teams will be strong at home and weak on the road. They might be a solid win-win option on their home court and just as strong of a loss-loss play in another team’s arena. 

    The Public Betting On The NBA

    Public betting on the NBA is often also referred to as consensus betting. Online sports betting sites such as BetMGM will reveal how the public is wagering on that night’s NBA games well in advance of the tipoff. 

    Percentages will be shown for the handle and the total bets on the moneyline, the point spread and the total. It opens a window into the way the people are wagering on the game and how those bets are shaping the odds. 

    Pros And Cons Of Following Public Betting Trends

    This public betting information sometimes provides contrasting information. Occasionally, while the larger percentage of the bets are on one team, the handle may be leaning toward the opposing team. This generally means that while the majority of people are liking the first team, the bigger bettors, often referred to as sharps, are backing the other squad.

    The contrasting information can lead to a betting trend that’s known as fading the public. Sharps are considered to be more knowledgeable bettors. If they look to be leaning the opposite way on a wager than the consensus, there must be a reason for that. It’s considered a wise betting strategy to follow the smart money.

    Another factor to take into consideration is the total number of bets that have been played. A smaller sample size can skew the results. However, if there are thousands of bets placed, that data can be considered a trusted source and you should follow that trend.

    How Much Are Points Worth In NBA Sports Betting

    Also commonly referred to as the line or the spread, points in NBA betting is point spread betting. With a point spread wager, a bettor is either getting or giving points when the bet is laid.

    A typical NBA point spread will look something like this:

    Portland Trail Blazers +3.5 (-110) at Denver Nuggets -3.5 (-110)

    A point spread is a handicap assigned to the outcome of the game. The underdog in the wager is indicated by the positive number. The favorite in the play is assigned the negative number.

    In the case of the Trail Blazers, they are the underdog in this NBA game. Place a bet on them and you will be getting points – in this example, 3.5 points. In essence, should you choose to back Portland, when the Trail Blazers take the floor, it’s as if you are starting out the game with a 3.5-0 lead on the scoreboard. 

    Should Portland win the game outright, that’s great. Your bet has covered and you are a success. Go collect your winnings. But wait, it’s even better. Portland can lose the game, as long as the Trail Blazers do so by three points or less and the bet remains a winner. Again, congratulations are in order. Go collect your winnings.

    However, should you be the favored Nuggets, there’s more work to do and only one outcome that produces a winning wager. To cash a winning point spread bet on Denver, the Nuggets must win by four or more points. Any other final result and the best you’ve played on the favored Nuggets is a loser.

    Explaining The Vig

    The number in parentheses following the point spread on each team is now as the vig, or the juice. It’s the odds assigned to a wager placed on the assigned outcome. In this case, whether you play the favorite or the underdog, the vig is -110. That means were you to bet $110 on either team and they covered your play, you’d win a $100 profit.

    Overtime Work In NBA Betting

    You’ve bet on an NBA game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, placing a moneyline wager on the Knicks to win. At the end of regulation time, the score is tied at 98-98. 

    The teams are heading to overtime. Now what happens to your bet? 

    Nothing at all, as a matter of fact. The ticket is still live. Your moneyline wager includes the potential that the game may require overtime in order to reach a decision. 

    It’s the same whether the bet played was a point spread or total wager. If the game goes to overtime, the wager stays live and isn’t concluded until the game reaches a conclusion. 

    Of course, that’s not good news if you bet the under on the total, or you played the underdog in a point spread bet. Should the favorite cover thanks to overtime, or the over become the winning play during extra time, sorry about your luck. You lose your bet.

    Excluding Overtime From An NBA Bet

    It is possible to eliminate the impact of overtime from a straight NBA wager. Mobile sports betting apps such as BetMGM or WynnBET will offer 48-minute or regulation time plays on NBA games. 

    Make this bet and you will be removing the possibility of overtime impacting your wager. Your bet is decided entirely by what occurs during regulation play. This wager also adds the option of a third play on the moneyline, the chance to bet on a draw in an NBA game. 

    The draw would mean the game is tied through four quarters and it will be heading into overtime. The draw price will usually be quite lucrative but remember, it’s going to be a rare occurrence. A little over six percent of NBA games require overtime in order to reach a decision. 

    NBA Referee Betting

    Is there a more popular lament among fans of sports than to blame a failed outcome on the game officials? Those who wear stripes have been taking the brunt of fan abuse for decades and it’s no different in the NBA. Fans will complain about every call that goes against their team, no matter how blatantly obvious the foul committed might be. 

    However, did you know you could bet on the NBA based on the supposed influence of the game officials involved? Betting sites have been charting the work of NBA referees for years. In fact, there are web sites devoted solely to tracking the won-loss records of every NBA team based upon the people working the whistles.

    Refereeing Can Open Up Betting Opportunities

    Now, we’re not suggesting that the officials are deliberately impacting the outcome of games. That being said, every referee has their own unique style of calling a game and that most certainly can affect how you might want to wager on that game.

    Referees who call plenty of fouls, combined with a team that is a strong shooter of free throws, is a factor that might make the over on the total look to be a solid play. 

    Online betting sites recognize the impact refereeing can make on a game. Many of them offer referee-specific stats on each NBA game official. Who oversees the most home victories? The most road wins? Which referee calls the most fouls? All of this data is available to be searched, as are each team’s won-loss record while having their games called by every NBA official. 

    What Is Regulation 3-Way NBA Betting?

    An NBA 3-way bet is just what it sounds like it would be – a bet on an NBA game which offers three possible outcomes.

    A 3-way bet takes in the usual favorite and underdog that are included in a standard moneyline on an NBA betting line. The difference in a 3-way bet is that the possibility of a draw is not included in the standard betting options. The three-way bet is similar to the type of moneyline offers that are commonplace in soccer betting. 

    What’s that you say? Draws aren’t possible in the NBA. All games are played to a conclusion, even if overtime proves necessary to complete the outcome.

    Yes, that’s true. However, an NBA 3-way bet is based upon regulation time only. Thus, should the game finish in a deadlock following the regulation four quarters of 48 minutes playing time, with a 3-way bet, this result would be considered a draw. In other words, should the game go to overtime and you’ve wagered on the draw in an NBA 3-way bet, you’re a winner.

    Advantages And Disadvantages of 3-Way Betting

    The advantage to NBA 3-way betting is that since there are three options to play, the odds tend to be a bit more favorable than with a standard moneyline wager. The implied probability of winning with a 3-way bet is 35 percent. Another positive is that you can opt to middle a 3-way bet. You play one outcome with one online sportsbook and hedge your bet by playing a different outcome on the same game at a rival sports betting site.

    However, it’s those same three options that can prove to be the downfall of placing a 3-way wager on an NBA game. Three outcomes means that your chances of losing the bet are two out of three. With a standard moneyline, the won/loss percentages are 50-50.

    How To Make An NBA Betting Strategy

    When it comes to assembling an NBA betting model to follow and hopefully bring success to your wagering endeavors, first, it’s important to understand that developing an NBA betting model is no simple process. It’s going to take time and effort.

    Getting Started

    It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the available data that is out there referencing the NBA and its member teams. The challenge for the bettor is to determine which stats are worth pursuing and which are just noise. 

    It’s best to stick to what you know and perhaps just as importantly what you find that you are passionate about. Maybe that’s 3-point shooting averages. It could be betting on home underdogs. Whatever the case, find a trend, and study it until you know the data inside and out. Use that info to create a predictive model for NBA betting.

    Remove Emotion For The Equation

    You may want to bet on the NBA because you love the game and that’s fine. However, don’t bet on something because you love it. Just because you’re an avid Los Angeles Lakers fan, if the data indicates they are going to lose to the Golden State Warriors, then that’s the bet you must play.

    Allowing emotion to rule your wagering or betting as a fan will soon separate you from your money. Bet with your head, not with your heart.

    Manage Your Money

    There’s an old saying about if you use your cents wisely, the dollars will take care of themselves. We’re not certain about it but we think this adage was first spoken by a sports bettor.

    Budgeting wisely is vital in any successful NBA betting model. Firstly, establish how much you can put aside to bankroll your betting. Secondly, never bet more than 5-10 percent of that bankroll 

    Thus, if you set your bankroll at $1,000, the absolute most you should ever place on one bet is $100, or 10 percent of your total bankroll. Set your bets in advance and stick to that gameplan. Accept that you will lose and when you do, stay on point. Don’t spend good money chasing bad. 

    Key Stats To Compare When Betting On NBA Games Online

    The beauty of the internet is that information is more easily accessible today than ever before. That aspect is creating an invaluable tool when it comes to NBA betting and sports betting in general. There is a vast amount of data that can be analyzed before placing a wager.

    However, this fact of life also brings to mind the famous quote from Winston Churchill about there being lies, damn lies and statistics. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

    Let’s look at some NBA stats that can prove invaluable to NBA bettors.

    Three Point Shooting

    Clearly, the NBA game has evolved to a point where the teams that shoot threes well are collecting the majority of the wins. Teams are opting to fill out their lineups with smaller, quicker players who can get into open space and nail the shot from beyond the arc.

    That being the case, it’s vital to know not only which teams shoot the three but which among those teams shoot the three well.

    Turnover Rates

    With the game being played at such a faster pace, protecting the ball is even more vital than in past years. Just as winning the special teams battle is a trend that is often a tell in NHL betting, the teams that commit the fewest turnovers in an NBA game are the winners far more often than not.

    Possession Metrics

    It’s hard to win the game if you don’t have the ball. That’s why measuring the number of possessions a team averages over the course of a game is another valuable bit of information. 

    It’s simple, really. The more a team holds possession of the ball, the more likely it is they will be scoring points. 

    Be Aware Of Trends

    Doing your homework will always pay dividends in NBA betting. Which teams are strong at home and which ones play effectively on the road? Knowing the NBA schedule inside and out is a given. Is a team nearing the end of a weary road trip, playing a day game after a night game, or known for bouncing back with a win following a loss?

    NBA Online Betting FAQs

    Where Is NBA Betting Legal?

    The landscape for betting on the NBA and other sports did a 180-degree turn on May 14, 2018. That was the date the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That law, introduced in 1992, barred almost all state-authorized gambling on just about all sports except horse racing. It left Nevada as the only state in which a person could wager on the results of a single sporting event. The ruling turned the USA into the wild west when it came to sports betting. It was open season. All of the 50 states were now free and clear to offer legal and regulated sports betting, both retail and online, as well as through mobile apps.

    What Is The Moneyline In NBA Betting?

    The simplest way to wager on a favorite in NBA betting is via the moneyline. All they need to do is win the game and the bet cashes. However, the drawback is that the payout will be lower than what it would be with a point spread wager. 
    With this game, Boston is a -145 favorite. That number is what the bettor would need to wager in order to realize a $100 profit on their play. As the +125 underdog, bettors would realize a $125 profit were they to bet $100 on the Warriors and they won the game.