What You Need to Know Before Betting on NBA Games

Basketball is inherently a fast-paced game that provides unrivaled intensity, making the NBA one of the most entertaining leagues to bet on. The NBA schedule provides no shortage of betting options over the course of the season. With multiple matchups, gamblers can bet on games almost every night. Knowing the ins and outs of NBA betting will help improve the odds of winning. Here’s what you need to know before betting on NBA games.

Betting Lines Explained

There are several different ways to wager on NBA games. The most popular forms of wagering are the point spread, the Moneyline, and Over/Under totals.

Point Spread

Many NBA betters prefer the point spread because it levels out the difference in skill between two teams. The spread is calculated through close analysis of both teams, considering the venue the game is in, current team form, and any player injuries affecting the lineup.

Negative values indicate a favorite. The favorite team must win the game by more than the spread to win. Underdogs will have a positive point spread value. The underdog team can either win or lose by less than the spread to generate a win. 

For example, the Los Angeles Lakers are -2.5 spread favorites over the Toronto Raptors at +2.5. For the Raptors to cover the spread, they need to either win the game or lose by two points or less. For the Lakers to cover this spread, they must win the game by at least three points.

The Moneyline

Betting Moneylines is one of the simplest forms of betting because you simply bet on the team you think will win.

Moneyline odds for NBA games are generated by sportsbooks based on the probability of a team winning. Since NBA starting lineups aren’t always evenly matched, Moneyline odds reflect their chances.

Most sportsbooks display Moneyline odds in hundreds. The team with negative odds is the favorite, and the one with positive odds is the underdog.

Over/Under Totals

Oddsmakers measure matchups between NBA teams and set an expected number of points each side will score during a game. Once this total is set, bettors can wager whether the final score will go over or under the predicted total.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are rapidly increasing in popularity as a way to bet on NBA games. They allow you to bet on more than just the final score but on different aspects of the game. Prop bets focus on game events like an individual player or team performance, including the number of three-point shots, the first team to score 20 points, or a player’s number of rebounds.

Tips and Strategies for NBA Betting

Shop for the best odds

Oddsmakers set odds in each individual sportsbook. While the Lakers might have -140 odds at one sportsbook, they could be -120 at another. Placing your bets at the sportsbook with the best lines will help improve your bankroll long-term.

Look at derivatives

You can chop NBA betting odds into halves and quarters that set sides and totals for different game segments. Derivative odds hold the added value you won’t find in full-game lines because they show trends that often fly under the radar of oddsmakers. Some teams are slow starters, so it’s better to bet on their performance in the second half. Others are stronger in the first quarter. Uncovering the derivatives can help you capitalize on these trends.

Focus on current form

Getting caught up in the overall standings can hurt your chances of winning. Even the best teams have slumps, and losing teams have winning streaks. Paying attention to the past three games a team has played gives you a better idea of how they’ll play.


If you’re placing a bet, comb through the NBA injury reports and which players are sitting out. Big-name basketball stars have a huge impact on NBA odds but don’t miss the impact undervalued player injuries can have on a team’s performance.

You can bet on the NBA all season long at the new BetRivers Sportsbook in New York. That you can bet on player props, totals, moneylines and more with the best NY sports betting has to offer now in the Big Apple.