NBA Point Spread, Money Line and Totals
How To Understand NBA Odds
The National Basketball Association is unrivalled in its entertainment value and drama both on and off the court. In addition to the thrilling nature of the sport, the NBA also provides sports bettors with the opportunity to cash in with some serious money-making opportunities. We took the time to identify some key terms you will want to be able to understand when you first get started NBA lines and betting on the association. Here is a closer look at what you need to know in order to understand NBA odds.
What Are NBA odds?
There are three main types of NBA odds: the point spread, the moneyline and totals. The point spread is a margin of victory, the moneyline focuses on the straight-up winner of the game and the total focuses on the combined final score of the two teams playing. We’re going to fully explain what each of those are below along with a few other bet types like futures and props.
How Do You Read The Odds In Basketball?
In this section, we’re going to go over all of the main types of NBA betting odds and explain how to read them.
What Is Moneyline NBA?
The first and most obvious type of NBA wager is the moneyline. Essentially, this bet is about picking which team you think will win a given matchup outright and putting your money down on it. Unlike the National Hockey League or Major League Baseball in most cases, the disparity in talent and success between the top and bottom teams is much more pronounced in the NBA. This means that the sportsbooks will adjust to those disparities when they list the betting odds for each matchup. Here is a look at what the moneyline might look like for an NBA contest at MyBookie:
New York Knicks +320
Milwaukee Bucks -450
In this specific scenario, the Bucks are the obvious sports betting favorites playing at home against the visiting Knicks. Since Milwaukee appears to be a lock to win this game outright, they are listed at a ridiculous -450 odds. This means that you would need to risk $450 to win $100 betting on the Bucks. While the odds will vary from one matchup to another, we can understand the disparity in the odds based on the perceived disparities in the matchups that the sportsbooks need to consider. In this example, New York is listed at +320 as the betting underdog. This means that you could risk $100 to win $320 betting on the Knicks to come out on top in this matchup. While the moneyline doesn’t necessarily work for everyone in every matchup, it’s the most basic type of NBA wager on the board.
See: Moneyline Betting
What Is The Spread In Basketball?
NBA spreads are a margin of victory that a team has to win by to “cover” the spread. The favorite has to win by more than the margin while the underdog can lose within the margin or win outright to cover the spread. In most cases where the matchup appears to be lopsided on paper, the point spread makes more sense. Sportsbooks will have a point spread in place for each and every matchup on the board regardless of the difference in talent between the teams involved. Here is a look at what the NBA point spread odds might look like at BetOnline:
New York Knicks +8.5 -110
Milwaukee Bucks -8.5 -110
Using the same scenario as we discussed in the moneyline section above, we can assess that the Bucks could be listed at -8.5 on the point spread while the Knicks would be listed at +8.5 as the betting underdog.
This would mean that if New York wins outright or loses by eight points or less, they would cover the point spread. In order for Milwaukee to cover the point spread, they would need to win by nine points or more in order to cover the point spread.
As you might have noticed above, both teams are listed at with NBA betting odds of -110 to cover the point spread. The point spread lines and odds will vary from matchup to matchup as well as from one sportsbook to the next.
See: Point Spread Betting
What Is Over Under In Basketball?
Another type of NBA wager pertaining to the final scores of each matchup is the total. Also known as the over-under, the total is a bet on the predicted combined number of points the teams in a specific matchup will combine to score. Here is a look at what an NBA total bet might look like at Bovada:
Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers
Over 189.5 -110
Under 189.5 -110
In this matchup, the total has been set at 189.5 points. This means that if the teams combine to score 190 points or more, then the over would hit. At the same time, if the teams combine to score 189 points or fewer, then the under would hit. You might notice that the odds for both sides of the total are listed at -110 odds, which is usually standard for most sportsbooks in most matchups. However, you could notice that the actual odds for the sides will vary from one matchup to the next.
Make sure you track NBA over under lines from one site to the next in order to make sure you are getting the best possible number at the best possible odds.
See: Over/Under Betting
NBA futures is the term used to cover the category that includes any future result that will not be determined for a significant period of time. Unlike betting on the actual game outcomes, NBA futures tends to focus on the bigger picture over the course of an 82-game season. Here is a look at what an NBA futures bet might look like:
Los Angeles Lakers To Win NBA Title +200
In this scenario, the Lakers are listed at +200 odds to win a championship. This means that you could risk $100 to win $200 wagering on Los Angeles to win it all. NBA futures could include anything from betting on which team you think will win the title before the season starts to betting on the number of wins each team will record in a given season. While it will take a significant amount of time before we learn the outcomes of NBA futures bets, the value makes these types of wagers worth playing from time to time when the opportunity is there.
The final type of NBA basketball lines we will look at here is the prop bet. This type of wager pertains to any type of player or team prop irrespective of an individual matchup result. Here is a look at what an NBA player prop might look like:
James Harden 32.5 points vs. San Antonio Spurs
In this example, you would bet on whether you think Harden will score more or less than 32 points in a matchup with the Spurs. If you think he will score 33 or more, you would take the over on this prop. If you think he will score 32 or less, then you would take the under. The majority of NBA prop bets feature both sides of the matchup listed at -110 odds, but that could vary from one sportsbook to the next. NBA prop bets are a fun and entertaining alternative to making money betting on the association without having to worry about the outcomes of the actual games. If you haven’t checked out the NBA prop bet section of your sportsbook yet, you might want to have a look soon to see if there is any value there that you can capitalize on.
See: Prop Bets
How Can I Bet On The NBA?
Now that you know how to read the odds, the next question is where can you bet on the NBA? Luckily, we have created a list of the best sportsbooks that allow you to bet NBA games online. They all have spreads, over-unders, moneylines, props and futures for every single game. Check out our full list of online betting sites to see the best places to play and start betting the NBA spreads today!