A Complete Guide to Betting on the NBA

Content on this page may include affiliate links. If you click and sign up/place a wager, we may receive compensation at no cost to you.

NBA full betting guide

This full 2024 NBA betting guide explains how NBA betting works. You will discover the best sportsbooks to use, different kinds of bets that can be made and some strategies to implement. 

Betting on the NBA is incredibly popular across America, and the sportsbooks detailed throughout this page accept a range of NBA bets, all of which you will learn more about below.

How do NBA odds work?

NBA odds work the same way as they would in any other betting market in that the minus (-) sign typically signifies the betting favorite, while the plus (+) sign usually marks the betting underdog. When an underdog team is +200 to win a game, it means a $100 bet would get you $200 in profit. If the favorite team is -200 to win a game, you’d need to wager $200 to make $100 in profit.

Betting on an NBA game

There are three main types of bets that you can make for every NBA game: Moneyline, point spread and total (over/under). 

Moneyline

Moneyline betting is the most straightforward form of NBA betting because all you need to do is pick which team you think will win the matchup outright.

Let’s take the following as a moneyline bet example: The Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers are scheduled to play, and the moneyline odds look like this: MIA +180 and PHI -215 at FanDuel Sportsbook.

This means that the Heat are the underdogs and a $100 bet on them would return $180 on top of your $100 back, if they win. The Sixers, meanwhile, are the favorites and the -215 means that you’d need to bet $215 to win $100 on top of your initial wager.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) shoots past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the second quarter of a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
USATSI

Point spread

Point spread betting is similar to moneyline betting, but you’re betting on more than just an outright win. In fact, if you bet the underdog, your team doesn’t even need to win the game for you to win your bet. The favorite needs to win by a certain amount of points and the underdog needs to come within a certain amount of points of winning for you to win a bet on the spread. Here’s an example:

The Orlando Magic are +4.5 on the point spread against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are -4.5 on the point spread line at DraftKings Sportsbook. Know that the point spread line is always the same on both sides.

In this example, if you bet on the Magic, your bet will cash if the Magic win outright or if they come within 4.5 points of winning. A bet on the Cavaliers will cash if they win by at least 4.5 points.

  • Cavs 109, Magic 101 – The Cavs win by 8. They covered the spread, so a bet on the Cavs wins.
  • Magic 112, Cavs 111 – The Magic win by 1. A bet on the Magic wins.
  • Cavs 109, Magic 107 – The Cavs win by 2, but don’t cover the spread. A bet on the Magic wins.

Notably, more often than not, both sides of a point spread bet will have -110 odds. So, to win $100 you will need to bet $110.

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) shoots the ball over Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Kia Center.
USATSI

Totals

Totals betting is sometimes referred to as Over/Under betting, and what you’re betting on is the total combined points scored by both teams in a particular game.

For example, the matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago Bulls has an over/under set at 221.5 points at BetMGM Sportsbook. So, if you take the over, the total combined points must be 222 or more. If you take the under, the combined points need to total 221 points or fewer.

Chicago Bulls guard Javonte Green (24) defends Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) during the second half during a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at United Center
USATSI

Like point spread betting, the odds on a totals bet are normally positioned at -110 on both sides. However, you may come across something like -105 on one side of the bet and -115 on the other side now and then.

Up To $1,500 In Bonus Bets
If Your First Bet Loses

Validated on: July 19, 2024

Claim bonus

Must be 21+. Min. first deposit of $10. New customers only. Subject to eligibility requirements. Rewards are non-withdrawable bonus bets that expire in 7 days. Bonus bets amount equals lost stake. Must be physically located in NC, NJ, IN, WV, DC, CO, PA, MI, IA, AZ, LA, TN, IL, VA, MD, MS, WY, MA, KS, OH, or KY. Void where prohibited. In partnership with Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel. Add’l terms apply – see BetMGM.com. Please Gamble Responsibly. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP or text NEXTSTEP to 53342 (AZ), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), (888) 789-7777 or ccpg.org (CT), 1-800-981-0023 (PR), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), or www.mdgamblinghelp.org (MD), or morethanagame.nc.gov (NC), 1800gambler.net (WV). Data & text rates may apply. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (Available in the US) Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY) Call 1-800-327-5050 or visit GamblingHelpLineMA.org (MA).

Validated on: July 19, 2024

Other popular NBA bets

The traditional “Big 3” bet types are far from the only kinds of NBA bets that are popular and available. Here, you will find other popular NBA bets that you can place at every reputable sportsbook:

Player and game props

When it comes to player props, you are betting on individual player performances within a specific game. Check out some of the most popular NBA player prop bets:

  • Player total points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, threes made

You will find something like a DeMar DeRozan over/under style of prop, which is the most common, but there is also a yes/no style of prop. For example, you can be on whether or not DeMar DeRozan will have a double-double or a triple-double in the game. The over/under style generally gives you even (-110) odds on both sides, while the yes/no style could be a lot more lucrative. You might be able to get +260 odds on a player recording a double-double, and then much higher for a triple-double.

Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) looks to drive past New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden
USATSI

Game prop betting is also very popular among NBA bettors, and these refer to game events that occur within a matchup. You will see game props like: Team total points, race to X points, odd/even total points, half/quarter point spreads.

  • An example of an NBA game prop could be the Los Angeles Lakers’ first half total points over/under 56.5 at -110 odds from BetRivers Sportsbook.

Parlays

You can make both traditional parlays and same game parlays in the NBA betting market. You can combine multiple bets on one betslip to increase your odds, and in turn, your potential payout. 

Parlay bets are tougher to win than straight bets. Every bet in a parlay needs to win for the whole parlay to be considered a win and for you to get any money at all. With each bet you add, your odds and potential payout increases exponentially. Each bet in a parlay bet is referred to as a “leg” and some sportsbooks let you add as many as 20 legs to a parlay.

Now, a same game parlay is exactly what it sounds like — a wager from one game that includes multiple bets, or legs.

Here’s an example of a parlay containing two spread bets on a night of NBA playoff basketball:

  • Boston Celtics -8.5 @ Cleveland Cavaliers (-110)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder +1.5 @ Dalla Mavericks (-112)

That hypothetical two-leg parlay at DraftKings would have the combined odds of +261. If you were to bet $100 on this two-leg same game parlay at +261 odds, your potential payout would be $361.86 if your wager wins (including your initial $100).

Futures

Futures betting is incredibly popular in the NBA betting market, especially during the offseason when games aren’t occurring. The most common NBA futures bets are:

  • NBA Finals
  • Team win totals
  • To make the NBA Playoffs
  • Award winners
  • NBA Draft

NBA futures odds on the aforementioned markets will usually be posted well before the season gets underway and they will update throughout the season based on the performances of both teams and players.

Factors like game outcomes, injuries, and roster moves can have a big impact on the odds of NBA futures bets.

These bets are so popular because of the value you can get on them. If you believe in a sleeper team, you’ll find generous odds for them to win a championship before the season starts. As we get more information with more games played, the odds will change accordingly.

Bet $5 And Get $150
In Bonus Bets Instantly!
NO Code Required Claim bonus

21+ only (18+ KY/WY). Offer available in AZ/CO/CT/IA/IL/IN/KS/KY/LA(select parishes)/MA/MD/ME/MI/NC/NJ/NY/OH/PA/TN/VA/VT/WV/WY only. Void where prohibited. 1 per new customer only. Eligibility restrictions apply. Ends 8/18/24 at 11:59 PM ET. Min. deposit of $5. Min. first bet of $5. Reward issued as 6 Bonus Bets of $25 each. Bonus Bets expire in 7 days (168 hours) after being credited, are single-use and non-withdrawable. Stake removed from payout. See terms at sportsbook.draftkings.com/promos. Please Gamble Responsibly. Call 1-800-522-4700 (NH), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org (CT), or visit www.1800gambler.net (WV). Data & text rates may apply. GAMBLING PROBLEM? CALL 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (AZ/CO/IA/IL/IN/KS/KY/LA/MD/ME/MI/NJ/OH/OR/PA/TN/VA/VT/WV/WY), (800) 327-5050 or visit gamblinghelplinema.org (MA). Call 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY).

Live betting on the NBA

Now that you know how each of the main NBA bet types works, it’s time to discover how you can actually place bets during an NBA game and what advantages come along with doing so.

Odds update in real time these days, allowing you as a bettor to place bets while the action is taking place on the hardwood.

Let’s say that the Boston Celtics entered their matchup with the Brooklyn Nets as a -325 favorite on the moneyline. Then, Brooklyn jumps out to a 10-point lead after the first quarter ends and the moneyline shifts to -270 in favor of Boston. Now could be a great time to place a live bet on the Celtics to come back and win the game outright with the improved odds.

The strategy with live betting on the NBA is to wager along with the flow of the game. The NBA is a game of runs. So if you wanted to bet on an underdog on a +7.5 point spread, you could wait for the favorite to take a double-digit lead, which would move the line a couple of points. That’s when you may want to place a live bet to get the most favorable odds.

Up To $1,500 In Bonus Bets
If Your First Bet Loses

Validated on: July 19, 2024

Claim bonus

Must be 21+. Min. first deposit of $10. New customers only. Subject to eligibility requirements. Rewards are non-withdrawable bonus bets that expire in 7 days. Bonus bets amount equals lost stake. Must be physically located in NC, NJ, IN, WV, DC, CO, PA, MI, IA, AZ, LA, TN, IL, VA, MD, MS, WY, MA, KS, OH, or KY. Void where prohibited. In partnership with Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel. Add’l terms apply – see BetMGM.com. Please Gamble Responsibly. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP or text NEXTSTEP to 53342 (AZ), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), (888) 789-7777 or ccpg.org (CT), 1-800-981-0023 (PR), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), or www.mdgamblinghelp.org (MD), or morethanagame.nc.gov (NC), 1800gambler.net (WV). Data & text rates may apply. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (Available in the US) Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY) Call 1-800-327-5050 or visit GamblingHelpLineMA.org (MA).

Validated on: July 19, 2024

NBA betting strategies and advice

Is there a tried-and-true science to NBA betting that guarantees success? Not really, but there are some betting strategies you could use to increase your chances of winning more often.

Find the best odds

Sportsbooks don’t always post the same odds. In fact, they often post different odds from each other, which gives you as a bettor the ability to shop for the most favorable odds.

This strategy is straightforward and it doesn’t take much time or effort. All you need to do is sign up for multiple sportsbooks, choose an NBA bet that you’re interested in, and place it at the sportsbook that’s offering the best odds for that market.

For example, if you want to bet on the Denver Nuggets on the moneyline in their matchup against the Phoenix Suns, and BetMGM has Denver at -125, but Caesars has them at -108, you should place the bet at Caesars.

Consider injuries and rest days

The NBA is a league that’s known for rest days and load management. Star players sit out regular season games quite often, so you’ll want to know exactly who will be playing before betting on a game.

The last thing you want is to bet the Los Angeles Clippers -8.5 on the spread against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and later find out Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out due to soreness.

Notably, NBA teams are required to release their injury reports by 5 p.m. local time on the day before a game.

Per the NBA’s official rulebook: “NBA teams must report information concerning player injuries, illnesses and rest for all NBA games. By 5 p.m. local time on the day before a game (other than the second day of a back-to-back), teams must designate a participation status and identify a specific injury, illness or potential instance of a healthy player resting for any player whose participation in the game may be affected by such injury, illness or rest. For the second game of a back-to-back, teams must report the above information by 1 p.m. local time on the day of the game. Reports are updated on a continual basis throughout the day.”

Back-to-back games live betting strategy

Avoiding betting on teams who are on the second leg playing back-to-back games is a very popular NBA betting strategy. Unfortunately, oddsmakers know this and position the betting lines to reflect that.

This is where live betting comes in handy. If you see that the team who is playing their second game in as many nights jumps out to an early lead, It could be beneficial to hop in and bet against them, because often they will end up losing due to tired legs.

Specific NBA team records playing with zero days rest is an available statistic that you can locate.

Up To $1,000 In A Bonus Bet
If Your First Bet Loses

Validated on: July 19, 2024

Claim bonus

Must be 21 or older and physically present in AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, or WY. Void where prohibited. New users only. Must register using eligible promo code. First bet after registration must qualify. Max. Bonus Bet: $1,000 (amount equals to lost stake). Bonus Bet expires 14 days after receipt. Void where prohibited. See Caesars.com/promos for full terms. Know When To Stop Before You Start®. Gambling Problem? CO, IL, KY, MD, MI, NJ, OH, TN, VA, WV, WY, KS (Affiliated with Kansas Crossing Casino), LA (Licensed through Horseshoe Bossier City and Harrah’s New Orleans), ME (Licensed through the Mi’kmaq Nation, Penobscot Nation, and Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, federally recognized tribes located in the State of Maine), NC (Licensed through Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise), PA (Affiliated with Harrah’s Philadelphia): If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) or MD: visit mdgamblinghelp.org or WV: visit 1800gambler.net; AZ: Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP; IN: Call 1-800-9-WITH-IT; IA: Call 1-800-BETSOFF. Data & text rates may apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Hope is here. GamblingHelpLineMA.org or call (80‍0) 327-5‍050 for 24/7 support (MA). Call 1-877-8HOPE-NY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY).

Validated on: July 19, 2024

How do you find the right NBA betting site?

Several factors go into selecting the best sports betting site to suit your individual needs.

The first thing to always look out for is the sportsbook’s welcome offer. Heck, it’s even recommended that you register at multiple sportsbooks to take advantage of more than one of these offers.

In addition to that, take a look at the site’s promotions page to see if they provide any offers that are specifically for the NBA. Other important things to consider are the effectiveness of the mobile app, the available bet types and whether or not they offer features like early cashout.

SportsbookKey NBA feature(s)
FanDuelBest NBA live betting experience
DraftKingsVast NBA betting markets
BetMGMFrequent NBA odds boosts
CaesarsGreat NBA futures odds
BetRiversNBA odds adjuster tool
Bet $5 & Get $150
In Bonus Bets

Validated on: July 19, 2024

Claim bonus

21+ only (18+ in KY). Offer available in AZ/CO/IA/IN/KY/LA (select parishes)/NC/NJ/OH/VA. Void where prohibited. New customers only. Must claim offer within 30 days following registration. Deposit $10+ and place $5+ qualifying bet. Bonus bets are non-withdrawable and the Bonus Bets wager excluded from returns. Bonus Bets expire after 7 days. Add’l terms and restriction apply see at bet365.com. Data & text rates may apply. GAMBLING PROBLEM? CALL or TEXT 1-800-GAMBLER (AZ, CO, IN, KY, LA, NC, NJ, OH, VA) or 1-800-BETS OFF (IA).

Validated on: July 19, 2024

What type of promos are you likely to find

You can always find promos to elevate your NBA betting experience throughout the season. Here, you will see some types of betting promos that you will likely come across:

Odds/profit boosts

Both odds boosts and profit boosts are pretty self-explanatory. You will see something similar to this for an odds boost promo:

  • Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks both to win: Was +520 / Now +560

Meanwhile, you can sometimes opt-in for a profit boost, which could add 50% more to your winning NBA wager.

Bet/parlay/SGP insurance

Get your stake paid back if your NBA parlay or NBA same game parlay loses. Sometimes, you can get your stake refunded no matter how your parlay loses, and sometimes only one leg of your parlay can lose to receive a bonus bet equal to your stake up to a specified amount in return.

Other NBA-specific promos

  • Same game parlay Bet & Get: Opt-in and wager $10 on a same game parlay with +400 minimum odds on any market to get a $5 bonus bet to use on a same game parlay for any sport.
  • NBA early payout: Get your straight bet paid out if the team you pick gains a 20-point lead at any point.
  • Parlay club: Place four (4) $10+, 4+ leg standard parlays during the promotional period. Win or lose, receive a $10 bonus bet.
Up To 10x$100
In Bonus Bets
NO Code Required Claim bonus

Must be 21+ and present in AZ, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, MI, NJ, NY, PA, VT, VA, or WV. Not available in OH, TN, KY and NC. Void where prohibited. New customer only. Must opt-in daily (except day 1) by navigating to Discover or Promos page in the app & place $5+ qualifying wager each day with odds of -200 or longer to get a Bonus Bet match (max. $100 each day) for that day up to a total of 10 straight days. Qualifying wagers must be placed within 10 days from registration. Bonus Bets expire 7 days from issuance. Bonus bets amounts are non-withdrawable and winnings exclude bonus bet stake. Add’l Terms apply – see Fanatics Sportsbook app. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP or text NEXTSTEP to 53342 (AZ), (888) 789-7777 or http://ccpg.org (CT), or 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), or www.mdgamblinghelp.org (MD), or morethanagame.nc.gov (NC), or 1800gambler.net (WV). Data & text rates may apply. GAMBLING PROBLEM? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (CO/IL/KS/KY/MD/OH/MI/NC/PA/TN/VA/VT/WV), (800)-327-5050 or http://gamblinghelplinema.org (MA), Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369) (NY).

FAQ

How do NBA odds work?

NBA odds work the same as odds on other betting markets in that the favorite is signified by a minus (-) symbol, while the underdog is generally marked by a plus (+) sign. So, if the Lakers are a -150 favorite against the Clippers, you would need to wager $150 on the Lakers to win $100. 

What’s the difference between a moneyline and a point spread?

In a moneyline bet, you simply need to pick which team you believe will win the game outright. Meanwhile, a point spread bet considers the margin of victory. For example, if the Knicks are at -4.5 on the point spread, they would need to win by five points or more to cover the spread.  

How can I live bet on NBA games?

You can place in-game wagers on NBA games at any one of the sportsbooks detailed throughout this page. Just log into your account, navigate to the game that’s underway and place your live bet.

What is the best sportsbook to use to bet on the NBA?

The best NBA betting sportsbook to use in 2024 is FanDuel. This is due to them providing the best all-around experience, from betting markets and bet types to NBA-specific promos, they have it all. 

Is NBA betting legal?

Yes. You can bet on NBA games at any regulated sportsbook in any state that permits sports wagering, such as those listed on this page.