NBA basketball isn’t just one of the most popular sports leagues in America—it’s gained global popularity, which comes as no surprise to those who love the game. Not much can compare to the excitement of a no-look pass, a “not in my house” rejection, an acrobatic dunk, or an improbable long-distance three. And few games are impacted as much by a single star going on a tear. All of this excitement makes NBA basketball must-watch entertainment—and the ideal sport to bet on.
The season's first games are always an excellent opportunity for sports bettors. The excitement for a new season is palpable; until tested under the bright lights, all previous anticipation has been speculative.
There’s little as thrilling as the NBA playoffs. A lifetime of work and devotion has led to this point, and the stakes are high as teams play their hearts out to stay alive.
The best from the East meets the best from the West. When the top teams face off in the NBA Finals, childhood dreams and glory are at stake—and it doesn’t get any better than that.
Odds are the amount you can win versus how much you bet. Reading basketball odds is fairly straightforward, but a clear understanding is crucial to help you pick your next big winner. First, the basics. In the United States, odds are based on a bet or payout of $100. Odds are represented by a (+) or (-). The ( + ) represents the underdog and means a winning bet of $100 will return that amount. For example, a $100 bet on a +170 underdog will pay out a total of $270 - $170 in winnings plus your original $100 bet amount. On the other hand, the ( – ) means a team is favored, so you must bet that amount to win $100. In other words, a –170 favorite means you have to bet $170 to win $100.
Now that you know how to bet on basketball, there are several ways to win big betting on the NBA. If you’re confident that your favorite team will win, there’s a bet for that. If you like one team to win by a larger amount than the spread, there’s a bet for that. Feeling a defensive matchup that’ll lead to a low score? You guessed it—there’s a bet for that. Here are the most popular types of bets in the NBA.
This is the most straightforward bet. A moneyline bet is a bet on a winner, no matter the score. If the team you bet on wins, you win. If that team was a big underdog, your payout could be massive!
Example time. Let’s say the big Friday night game sees the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Chicago Bulls in Milwaukee. The moneyline may look like this:
Chicago Bulls +120
Milwaukee Bucks –130
Chicago is the underdog, so a bet of $100 on the Bulls will payout a total of $220 if they win—$120 in winnings plus your bet amount of $100. The Bucks are favored, so to win $100, you’ll have to bet $130 on Milwaukee.
One thing to note is the home team is always listed second, so in this example, Chicago is visiting Milwaukee.
A point spread is the amount a team is favored to win or lose by. If a team is projected to win by 6 points, you bet on them winning by more or less. These bets are popular because they make an uneven matchup more competitive, and it’s no longer about winning outright. The winner of the game is irrelevant.
NBA spreads have the same ( + ) or ( – ) odds as NBA lines. However, you’ll also see the spread number. So using our previous example, the spread may show up as:
Chicago Bulls +5 –115
Milwaukee Bucks –5 –105
This means the Milwaukee Bucks have to give 5 points since they’re the favorites to win. If they win by more than 5, this bet will pay out $100 if you wager $105. If they win by less than 5 or lose, a $100 bet for Chicago will pay $115.
Feel like betting on a specific game statistic? Over / Unders, also called Totals, is the bet for you. The most common of these bets is the total points of the game. Think it’ll be a high-scoring shootout or a low-scoring defensive grind? Make your call with an Over / Under bet.
Using our Chicago versus Milwaukee example, the Over / Under may look like this:
O 220 -110
U 220 -110
The total combined score is projected to be 220 points. There’s the option of betting that the tally will be over ( O ) or Under ( U ) this number. In this example, either choice will pay $100 if you wage $110.
A prop bet, short for proposition bet, has nothing to do with the final outcome. Player props are bets made on a single player’s performance. Feel like someone’s going to have a big night on the boards? Place a prop bet he’ll get more than the predicted number of rebounds. Confident your favorite player will continue their hot streak? Bet they’ll surpass the projected point total. There are bets on assists. You can wager on blocks. In fact, there’s a player prop bet for most stats you can think of.
Futures bets are picks for the entire season (or the remainder thereof). The most common NBA futures bet is the winner of the NBA Championship, and these picks add a thrill to the entire season. Plus, they pay well because it’s tough picking a winner so far in advance.
A parlay combines multiple bets to raise the stakes. Want to increase your payout size? All your picks have to win, but you can win a hefty sum if they do.
Awards are another type of NBA futures bet, and they’re granted after the basketball season. Until the prizes are awarded, you can bet on player awards like Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, or Sixth Man of the Year. Want to expand your NBA betting to leadership? You can bet on Coach of the Year as well.
NBA live betting is the perfect way to stay engaged with a game, allowing you to add to your total winnings or hedge your bets if you no longer like your pick. It’s great to place a bet, sit back, and enjoy the game. But why should the fun stop there? Check today’s NBA odds for in-game stats and moments with live NBA betting. You can place many of the same bets after tip-off as before, with constantly updating spreads or over/under odds.
Rivalries are ever-evolving. Take a game that leads to blows, a heated tight series, or a controversial non-call, and suddenly a new rivalry is born. But these rivalries tend to be short-lived, dying down as soon as the players move on to other teams. Other rivalries last a lifetime. Here are a few famous rivalries, some young, some old.
The biggest rivalry in the history of the NBA is the Lakers vs. the Celtics. They’re the winningest teams ever in the NBA, far beyond any other competitors. The rivalry intensified in the 80s, which saw Magic Johnson and Larry Bird lead their respective teams to eight out of ten titles that decade.
Beginning in the late 80s, the Detroit Pistons defended Michael Jordan with unrivaled physicality and eliminated the Chicago Bulls for three straight years. However, under the leadership of Phil Jackson, Jordan adapted, finally beating the Pistons and eventually winning six titles.
A more modern rivalry began when the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Warriors in overtime to eliminate them from the 2021 play-in tournament and crush their hopes of an NBA Championship. And that was just the start. They faced off again the following year in a playoff battle that led to multiple injuries, including Gary Payton II breaking his arm in a foul that Warriors coach Kerr said: “Broke the code.”