Odds Shark Top Sportsbooks
*Terms and Conditions apply to all bonus offers on this website. Visit operator for details.

How to Bet on NBA Basketball

Betting on the NBA can be profitable and fun if you know what you’re doing. Luckily, we at Odds Shark know what we’re doing and can hold your hand through the process. We won’t physically hold your hand, but we will give you the tricks of the trade so you can make smart NBA bets.

How to Read NBA Odds

There are different bets you can place on NBA games with the most common being the moneyline, point spread and totals. In terms of odds, they will always be expressed with a plus sign (+) to designate the underdog and a minus sign (-) to represent the favorite.

You will also see +110 and -110. This is based on bettors making wagers of $100. The $10 is the juice or vig – what the sportsbook collects from each bet. You don’t have to bet $100. You can bet $50 or $30,000 or $27. It’s up to you and your bankroll – and probably your wife – how much you want to wager.


The moneyline is a bet that involves picking a winner. For example, if the San Antonio Spurs are the favorite in their matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers, you can bet on them to win outright. The line would look something like this:

San Antonio -260

Portland +220

If you were to bet on the Spurs, you would need to wager $260 to win $100. On the other hand, a bet on the Trail Blazers to pull off the upset would see you wagering $100 to win $220. When you bet on the underdog, it’s considered a riskier wager which is why you need to lay down less money than you would on the favorite.

Point Spread

When two NBA teams aren’t evenly matched, the point spread gives bettors a different angle to bet on instead of simply picking a winner. Think back to the 2001 NBA Finals where the Philadelphia 76ers – Iverson being peak Iverson – managed to steal Game 1 from the Los Angeles Lakers only to find themselves horribly unmatched for the next four games. Oddsmakers will gift the weaker team with a certain amount of points so that even if they lose, you can still win your bet. Even though the Sixers played like a high school basketball team against Shaq and Kobe, you still could’ve won money if you’d bet the point spread. The Sixers lost Game 2 of that series by nine points but the spread was 11.5 so you still could’ve won your point spread bet if you wagered correctly.

Another example would be the Golden State Warriors at home vs the Sacramento Kings. The Warriors are extremely likely to beat the Kings at home, especially if the Kings are coming off a long road trip. To make the game more intriguing to bettors, the point spread might look something like this.

Golden State -17.5

Sacramento +17.5

In this scenario, if you take the Kings, they would need to pull off the upset or lose by less than 17 points. If you take the Warriors, they would need to win the game by 18 or more. When a team covers the spread it’s called covering the spread – very creative, right?

Another common example might be if the Boston Celtics are favored by six points over the Toronto Raptors. If the Celtics win the game by exactly six points it’s called a “push” and your money is refunded.


Totals bets give you the chance to wager on whether a game will go OVER or UNDER a set number of points. Let’s say the total is set at 220 for a game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Houston Rockets. If you take the OVER, it means you need total points to be more than 220 to win your bet. If you take the UNDER, you need the total points to be 219 or less to win your wager. Pushes can also happen in OVER/UNDER betting if the total number of points hits the exact number set by the oddsmakers.

NBA Betting Strategies

It’s important to factor home court underdogs into your basketball betting handicapping, particularly when the opposing team is on the end of a losing road trip or has played multiple games in recent nights. Learn more about NBA fatigue and how it can affect your bets here.

Another betting strategy to consider is momentum. When a team gets hot, it can often string together huge winning streaks both straight up and against the spread. Similarly, bad teams can rack up blowout losses in bunches as well. Be on the lookout for these spikes in season momentum and grab them early.

Where to Bet on NBA Basketball

With so many sportsbooks out there to choose from, it can be challenging to find one you like best. Odds Shark has put together a guide to help you find the best sportsbooks for NBA betting. We’ve inspected each book we back so you know you’re dealing with a secure and trustworthy site. Before you make any wager on professional basketball, check out our NBA pages to get everything you need to handicap your bets. You’ll find odds, free picks, betting news and more.