NBA Betting Guide

nba betting guide

The NBA was founded in 1946, spurred by Boston Garden owner Walter Brown’s realization that vacant ice hockey arenas could host basketball games. Since then, the NBA has grown into a massive multi-billion dollar league, rising through the ranks of popular sports. Now, it has a firm spot in the “big four” US sports alongside hockey, baseball, and football.

Basketball’s high pace of play and displays of athleticism make it an excellent spectator sport, which has catapulted the NBA to a permanent spot in the public eye.

Combine the sport’s 70-year (and counting) growth spurt with the advent of US sports betting, and you’ve got a perfect match. Sports betting is on the rise in the US, with new markets opening up regularly. Now, bettors in various US states can place bets on their favorite teams, players, and sports.

As sports betting becomes widely available to millions of US sports fans, new bettors are learning more about odds, lines, and wagers. Frankly, it can be confusing. Sports betting has its own lingo, and there’s some math involved. In this extensive guide to NBA sports betting, we’ll help new bettors get familiar with basketball wagers and the betting industry in general. Whether you’re a casual bettor or a seasoned NBA fan looking to up your betting game, we’ve got you covered.

The Rules Of Basketball

On its surface, basketball is a simple game. Two teams of five players each compete to score points by throwing the ball into the hoop—two points from inside the semi-circular arch, three from outside of it. If a player is on the receiving end of a foul, they get a free throw—an uncontested shot at the hoop for one point.

At its core, that’s basketball. Outscore your opponent. But deep down, it’s not quite so simple. Teams devise various plays and intricate schemes to set themselves up for success. The Triangle is one of the most notorious play structures in basketball, made famous by coach Phil Jackson and the heyday Chicago Bulls. In other words, basketball is a carefully orchestrated sport that favors a combination of sharply honed strategy, quick thinking, and sheer athleticism. Behind every point scored is a manufactured play or an explosive burst of athletic prowess.

You don’t need to understand every play or maneuver to enjoy a game of basketball, though. It can enhance the experience, but basketball can be enjoyed even if you only know the basic rules.

NBA Betting Explained

The NBA comprises 30 teams, and each team plays 82 games in the regular season. Because the league has so many games, and because those games are incredibly fast-paced, basketball lends itself well to the betting world.

Thanks to the sport’s easily understandable rules but incredibly deep gameplay, basketball is an excellent starting point for new bettors and a great place for veteran bettors to test their mettle.

Online sports betting on the NBA is now easier and safer than it has ever been. The US has legal online sportsbooks live in many states, and others are on the way. With regulated and legal sportsbooks available, bettors can rest easy knowing their NBA bets are secure and protected by an organization dedicated to gambling oversight.

With a plethora of sportsbooks available and the ever-increasing list of legal markets, now is the time to start betting on basketball. Plus, with 82 games played by 30 teams over the course of a seven-month season (including playoffs and the championship), casual and seasoned bettors alike can enjoy basketball betting for most of the year.

How NBA Betting Works

There are various ways you can bet on NBA matches. Sportsbooks offer bets (or “lines”) on all sorts of events and outcomes within a specific game.

First, it helps to understand odds, how they’re displayed, and what they mean. For example, you might see a Chicago Bulls moneyline bet at -300 while the team’s opponent, the Milwaukee Bucks, is listed at +280.

Here, a minus symbol (in -300) means that team is favored by bookmakers to win. If you bet $300 on that matchup and the Bulls won, you would receive $400 (your initial bet plus the win).

A plus symbol (+280) means that’s how much you’ll win if you bet $100. A $100 bet at +280 odds would pay $380 (your original bet plus $280 for the win).

With a basic understanding of odds, you can place various types of bets on the NBA.

Types Of NBA Bets You Can Place

There are plenty of bets on offer at major sportsbooks for NBA bettors. Here’s a sampling of the most popular types of NBA bets you can place.

How To Find Value On NBA Bets

When you’re placing a bet on any sport, it’s in your best interest to find the best possible value on that bet. There are a few tips and strategies you can employ to give yourself an edge.

Where Is NBA Betting Legal?

Thanks to the proliferation of sports betting across the US, bettors in more than two dozen states can wager on NBA games. The following markets have legalized sports betting to some degree, and more are on the way:

  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • Mississippi (in-person only)
  • West Virginia
  • New Mexico (in-person only)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Arkansas (in-person only)
  • New York (in-person only, online on the way)
  • Iowa
  • Oregon
  • Indiana
  • New Hampshire
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Montana (in-person only)
  • Colorado
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina (in-person only)
  • Wyoming
  • Washington (in-person only, online allowed at retail sportsbook locations)
  • Arizona
  • South Dakota (in-person only, online allowed at retail sportsbook locations)
  • Connecticut (in-person only, online on the way)
  • North Dakota (in-person only)

None of the regions above have any betting restrictions that affect the NBA. Some have college sports restrictions in place. For example, Illinois and New Jersey prohibit betting on any game or match that includes an in-state team (even if the game is played out of state). No such restrictions are in place for professional sports, however.

On The Cusp

A few markets are on the verge of allowing online sports betting. Among them, a few are very close to launch. New York, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Maryland are all in the near-final regulatory stages before online sportsbooks can officially go live.

Where To Find NBA Betting Picks & Predictions

There’s no shortage of NBA blogs and news outlets that offer weekly picks and predictions. You can find our expert insights on our NBA Picks page. The page is maintained by NBA betting experts that seek out the best odds, lines, and picks for each week’s games.

Check back weekly for our top picks and our expert analysis of the NBA.

Finding The Best NBA Betting Sportsbook

If you’re looking for the best place to find an NBA sportsbook, look no further. Our full NBA Sportsbooks page has a rundown of the best sports betting sites available in your region. Here are a few of the criteria we look for.

NBA Betting Mistakes To Avoid

Whether you’re just getting started with NBA betting or you’re already placing wagers on this season’s games, there are certain mistakes you can easily avoid.

NBA Betting Online Vs. Retail Sportsbooks

Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose between online sportsbooks and retail sports betting lounges. Each comes with its fair share of pros and cons.

How To Place A Basketball Bet: Step By Step

Once you’ve chosen your favorite sports betting app and have it downloaded to your phone or loaded on your desktop browser, placing a bet is simple. Here’s a step by step process using a Pistons moneyline bet on DraftKings as an example:

  1. Login to your sportsbook account
  2. Navigate to the “NBA” section
  3. Find the game you’d like to bet on
  4. Select your wager. In this example, we’ll go with the Pistons moneyline
  5. Head to your bet slip (bottom of the mobile screen or right-hand side of the computer screen)
  6. Type the amount you’d like to wager
  7. Click “Place Bet”

That’s it; you’re all set. Note that if you’d like to place multiple bets at once (either individually or as a parlay), you can do that without repeating the process for each wager. Just add all your bets to your bet slip, then type each wager amount in separately, then click “Place Bets.”

How To Watch NBA Games You Bet On

You’ve signed up for one or more sportsbooks, placed a bet, and you’re ready to watch the game play out. What next?

To be honest, most NBA games require a subscription of some sort. You might find high-profile games on some of the more common streaming services, but for the most part, you’ll have to pay a premium to get live streams of NBA match-ups.

You could also go to a local bar or, if there’s one nearby, a retail sportsbook to watch the game.

If you can’t find a live stream or a good location to watch a game, most online sportsbooks offer real-time match updates, so you’ll never miss a big play. Find the method that works best for you and stick with it.

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