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How to read nBA Odds
Basketball has a wealth of options to choose from for any sports bettor -- we'll examine a few different methods and explain how to read the corresponding odds.
What Does -110 Mean?
-110 is often referred to as the "magic number" of sports betting. It defines the amount required to earn $100 on either side of a wager and appears frequently on popular options. A bettor must lay $110 to win $100 when wagering on point spreads, for example, which are game-specific lines set by oddsmakers with hopes of getting equal action on both sides.
What Does -1.5 Mean?
NBA point spread betting is one of the most popular ways to bet on basketball, as it adds some excitement to every basket and better odds over picking an outright winner. In this example, -1.5 means the favored team must win by more than 1.5 points for the bet to cash. If the odds were reversed (+1.5), then your bet would cash if the underdog either loses by no more than one point, or wins outright.
The -1.5 spread is always accompanied by traditional odds, like our magic -110 number, indicating the value of the spread bet.
Popular Types of NBA Betting Options
An NBA moneyline bet means you pick one of two teams to win the game -- no catch, no angle, just the right or wrong answer by the time the buzzer hits 0:00 in the 4th.
Each team is given a separate numerical value for bettors to wager on -- these are the odds for moneyline betting. These odds are determined by oddsmakers and sportsbooks based on how the two opponents match up. Each number is displayed with either a minus sign (-) or a plus sign (+) in front of it, indicating the favorite and underdog respectively.
In an NBA example, let’s say the Golden State Warriors are hosting the Chicago Bulls. Since the Warriors are the better team, they’d receive -220 odds, making them the favorite. The underdog Bulls would have +180 odds. The outright winner determines if you win or lose your bet and the odds decide your payout.
As we explained before, NBA spreads offer another way to bet on basketball beyond picking an outright winner. In spread bets, favorites are given a minus (-) sign beside their total, while underdogs receive a plus (+) sign.
Like our previous example, let’s say the Warriors are favored over the Bulls. The spread might be 4.5 points, meaning the Warriors are favored at -4.5 (-110) and the Bulls are underdogs at +4.5 (-110). The -4.5 spread is always accompanied by traditional odds, like -110 for example, indicating its value. While the odds won't change much, NBA lines can range from one point difference makers to complete blowouts depending on the matchup at hand.
OVER/UNDER (Total) Bets
NBA over / under bets require you to make an accurate prediction about the combined score of both teams. It revolves around deciding whether the total score will surpass or fall below the number that was determined by oddsmakers.
For example, let’s take a Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat game with the total set at 224.5 points. As a bettor, you would select the OVER if you believe the game’s final combined score will be 225 points or more. You would select the UNDER if you believe it will be 224 points or less.
At the sportsbook, the odds would be laid out like this:
If you bet $10 on the OVER and the combined score was 228, you would get a payout of $19.09 – your original $10 comes back along with your $9.09 win. Conversely, if the game ended 110-105, that would be a pooled score of 215 points, meaning the game went UNDER. That same $10 bet on the winning UNDER would get you $20.50 – your first $10 plus your winnings of $10.50.
Betting on parlays combines multiple wagers on one ticket. Usually, bettors pool straight-up bets with spreads and totals, however, you can have multiple versions of the same bet as long as it’s on different games.
Let’s say you pick the Milwaukee Bucks (-160) and the Toronto Raptors (+120) both to win. You’d receive increased odds since it’s less likely both teams win and you need both the Bucks and Raps to win, otherwise you lose your bet. The more teams (or variables) you add to a parlay, the longer the odds get. Beware, though, all it takes is one bet to misfire and your wager is lost -- calculate your potential earnings on multiple bets with our parlay calculator.
NBA Player Prop Bets
This is a wager on the occurrence or non-occurrence of a specific player or team milestone that may not directly relate to the outcome of a certain game. Common prop bets include points scored for a specific players, rebounds, steal, assists and team totals for these stats as well.
Futures odds let basketball betting fans wager long in advance of significant NBA events throughout the season. An NBA futures bet focuses on the biggest individual and team achievements every year.
For example, you can wager on the winner of each NBA division, the Eastern Conference or Western Conference champion, bet on certain teams to make the playoffs, or place your money on the MVP of the NBA Finals.
Timing is everything with successful futures bets. The sooner you pounce on the action, the bigger the payouts will be if you win the bet. However, you’ll have updated NBA betting lines and relevant news to analyze the longer you wait on a futures wager -- it's ultimately up to you to decide whether or not a futures option has enough potential at its current value!
Keep up to date on all the latest future odds for the NBA championship, NBA playoffs and athlete awards such as the Defensive Player of the Year or Sixth Man of the Year. Additionall, you can learn how to bet on NBA games and NBA prop bets with our basketball betting guide.
Live Odds Betting
Live betting lets you place wagers while the game is unfolding. Especially popular with basketball bettors, in-play wagering gives you the chance to take advantage of the NBA's live odds while you’re watching everything from the NBA Finals to the first game of the regular season. Sportsbooks release new point spreads, moneylines, props and totals before each quarter and half. If there’s a scheduled break during play, you’ll see new live odds.
Understanding Line Movements
After oddsmakers release their lines at sportsbooks, the betting public almost immediately reveals which side of the number they prefer and oddsmakers adjust them accordingly. While these early line moves may show where the public money is initially going, it does not tell the whole story until we see where the closing odds end up.
It's vital to understand that line movements during a sport event can be extremely volatile, especially with basketball where an injury to a superstar can wreck the odds for an entire game or series. Timing is important, so if you see a bet you like at great value, snag it before the public hammers it in the same direction. Alternatively, if you’re high on a team that is being faded, wait as long as possible to get underdog value.
True Odds vs. Implied Odds
True odds are what you, the bettor, believes the line should be after all your research and handicapping -- the implied odds are a team’s chances of winning represented by a percentage and based on the odds set by the sportsbook. You can calculate the implied odds for any bet using our odds calculator!
Biggest NBA Betting Events
As we explained before, betting on NBA awards is an exciting endeavor. At the start of the year, there’s tons of value to lay on any award, like the Most Improved Player, or MVP. Once the season unfolds, the market will evolve and new value can emerge. Either way, futures bets are just plain fun.
NBA All-Star Weekend
NBA All-Star Weekend offers basketball bettors a wide array of fun wagers. There’s the traditional game itself, skills competitions, a tightly contested All-Star Game MVP award and even a celebrity contest to bet on.
NBA Play-In Tournament
The NBA Play-In Tournament setup can be quite complicated for new bettors and even professional ones trying to wrap their heads around it. Eight teams will be part of the NBA Play-In Tournament, with four from each conference. There will be six total games played involving only the teams that finish seventh to 10th in each conference after the regular season.
You can bet on each game or wager on which teams will win the tournament and ultimately make the playoffs.
You can make a number of futures bets on the NBA playoffs -- namely, you can wager which teams will make the playoffs, or who will win each playoff series and advance to the next round.
From the get-go, you can wager on NBA championship odds. Once the season reaches the Finals, you’ll see tons of betting markets expand on props, series bets (like how many games the series will last) and more.
Biggest Team Rivalries
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
As the two most storied franchises in basketball, the Lakers and Celtics were bound to have some kind of rivalry. The two clubs have met a record 12 times in the NBA Finals. The C’s and Lakers each have 17 championship titles, accounting for 34 of the league’s 74 titles (45 percent). Larry Bird and Magic Johnson spearheaded the rivalry in the early 1990s, though the animosity has been less intense since then.
New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Knicks and Nets’ rivalry is based more on proximity than anything else considering these squads have met just three times in playoff history. The Knicks have won two of the three series.
Profit & payout
If you win your bet, you’ll make a profit. Let’s say you wagered $10 on +100 odds; you’ll win $20 (a return of your $10 bet plus an additional $10 in profit).
This is the amount you can expect to win on a specific bet. Let’s say you’re risking $100 on the Hornets to win on the moneyline at -150. Your expected winnings would be $67.
An expected payout is your stake along with the expected winnings. Going back to that $100 bet on the Hornets, the expected payout is $67 of winnings and your $100 stake for a $167 expected payout.
You construct your bet on a “bet slip” before placing the wager. All available bet types as well as the most recent odds and lines for your pick will be shown on the bet slip once you have added at least one selection.
Bonuses and Promotions
The best online NBA betting sites should come with certain rewards besides the money you get from a winning bet. Sportsbooks see how valuable their customers are and want to give back. Most online betting sites give a welcome bonus, which matches a certain amount of your initial deposit up to a specified percentage. These codes can come in the form of a promo code or could be applied automatically upon your first deposit on-site.
For instance, you could be offered a bonus of 100 percent up to $200. This means that if you were to add $50 to your account, you’d get an additional $50 to bet with. Make sure to read the terms and conditions before accepting rewards. All the best NBA online betting sites have different stipulations that need to be met to claim a risk-free bet or deposit bonus.
Where To Bet On the NBA
Looking to find a sportsbook? We’ve got you covered. Check out our sportsbook review page to learn how to evaluate every sportsbook.
Sports Betting Apps
We can’t tell you which of the sites we list above has the best app because the best betting apps simply boil down to personal preference. What we can tell you is what to look for in a legal sports betting app to help you make an informed decision. Read up on what to look out for here.
NBA Odds FAQ
How Do I Read NBA Odds?
To read NBA odds, you need to know what NBA spreads are. Spreads, or NBA lines, are figures set by oddsmakers that try to offer reasonable odds for both sides of the outcome of an NBA game. The three main betting lines that betting sites set for every game are for a point spread, a total and the moneyline.
How Do I Handicap NBA Games?
The best way to handicap NBA games is through consistent research and watching the games. This can give you the ability to identify trends for future games or for live betting. Read up on our How To Bet NBA guide to help you get started or you can always check out NBA consensus picks for further guidance on how to handicap NBA odds today.
Which Team Is The Favorite To Win The NBA Championship?
Jayson Tatum and his Boston Celtics were set as the early betting favorites to win the NBA championship. Over the course of the season, NBA lines on the championship have changed, and the Milwaukee Bucks are now the favorite. These odds are constantly changing, so once you find futures odds you like, don’t hesitate – place your bet or risk missing out on the best odds.
How Are NBA Betting Odds Calculated?
Sportsbooks review a number of variables to come up with odds. But the easiest way to explain it is that sportsbooks calculate the number of events that produce a specific outcome to those that do not.