NBA Betting Advice

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NBA Betting Advice

NBA betting is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep that in mind before you dive too deep into your pockets.

With 82 games scheduled, played by 30 teams, plus 4 rounds of playoffs in a best of 7 series, it is one of the most grinding betting seasons for bettors.

If you’re really serious about betting on NBA, the best advice we could give comes in the form of one word, and that’s … bankroll (explained below).

Below we have described the most common NBA betting markets along with a few NBA betting tips.

If you’re a keen NBA bettor, visit our sister site for some NBA expert picks.

NBA betting is not for amateurs

Before you get to excited leading into an NBA season, open a nice beer, have a cigar and stare into the sunset. It’s a long season, and composure is the key to sustained success.

NBA basketball is very difficult to wager on successfully, with bad teams often playing it out until the final whistle and better teams resting their star players in late in games, there is a 6-9 minute period in matches where things can go from joy to misery. It’s these last few moments of  NBA games where your spread bet can be ruined.

However, after heeding these warnings we must admit that NBA betting is our true sports betting love, and it’s the ones you love that hurt you the most.

Our friend Alonzo Mourning can sum up our thoughts on NBA betting in one GIF…

NBA Betting Markets

Now that you’ve decided to dive into the world of NBA betting, it’s probably best to discuss the most common betting markets available on NBA basketball.

Below is a list of the most common NBA betting markets available to bettors –

NBA Point Spreads

Betting on the ‘Spread’ is the most common and popular betting market for NBA, generally offersing more value than a straight up Moneyline bet. The Spread is an educated guess from the sportsbook as to how much teams should win or lose by in a single NBA game.

Sportsbooks will aim to get around 50% of bets on each side of the Spread, while taking “Juice” from the bettor to enable them to make a profit regardless of the outcome of the game. (5Dimes offer Reduced Juice betting.)

The Spread is shown in sportsbooks as either a (+) or a (-), with the favorite given a handicap of points (-) that they must beat for the bet to be a winner.

A Spread bet will generally have odds ranging from -110 for each team in the game, with Reduced Juice sportsbooks offering odds of around -105.

An example of a spread bet in NBA –

Dallas Mavericks __ -8.0 (-110) |  Cleveland Cavaliers __+8.0 (-110)

Here, the Dallas Mavericks are solid favorites, and must win the game by 9+ points for a winning bet, and 8.0 points for a Push (money back on your stake, depending on bookmaker).

In the same example, the Cleveland Cavaliers must win the game, or lose by 7 points or less for a winning bet. A loss of 8 points will make it a Push (money back on your stake, depending on bookmaker).

NBA Moneyline Betting

A Moneylie bet requires the bet on the team they think will win a game outright, regardless of scores.

Moneyline bets in NBA are riskier than a Spread bet, as there is no margin for error.

If you happen to fancy an underdog at the Moneyline, there is more value in your bet than with a Spread market, with odds ranging anywhere from +100. to around +700 and above. One nice aspect of  betting on NBA is that it’s not unheard of for a long shot underdogs to win. Remember, it’s a 5-on-5 game and sometimes a shooters luck pays off.

An example of a Head to Head Bet –

Dallas Mavericks__(-178) |  Cleveland Cavaliers__ (+142)

In this example, the bettor would simply select either the favorite “Dallas” or the underdog “Cleveland”.

NBA  Total Points Betting

The Total Points market has the bettor wager on whether the total number of points in a game (both teams combined) will go over or under a total given by the sportsbook.

An example of a Total Points Bet –

Total Points Under 199.5 __($1.91) |  Total Points Over 199.5 __ ($1.92)

In this example, the bettor would simply select either the Over or Under Total Points line.

NBA Futures Betting 

An NBA Futures bet is a bet placed on a market that will have it’s outcome determined at the end of the NBA season. An example of NBA Futures bets include the NBA Finals Winner, NBA MVP and NBA Rookie of the Year Winner.

They are determined in the Future, and not the upcoming next day of NBA, hence the name Futures.

NBA Betting Advice

  • Recent matchup performance – Some NBA teams match up well against others and there are examples where poor teams match up well against better teams. It’s always best to take a look at the last 5 match-ups between teams to find value in the market.
  • Home & Road performance – It’s easy to find stats an a team’s home and road performance. As a rule, teams perform better at home, but there are also some teams that perform well on the road. There is betting value when two similarly matched teams play, with the away team having a good road record.
  • Back to backs and travel – No matter how good teams are, if they are playing back to back games (two games in two nights), they will be physically, and sometimes mentally depending one the player’s ages, weakened. Also, if a team is on a long road trip, they will be tired from travel. If a team has not played for a couple of nights, they should have cleared themselves of soreness, and freshened their minds. Observe a team’s travel and back-to-back win/loss records.
  • Injuries – Player injuries can cause a huge adjustment in the betting markets. Being a 5-on-5 game, the loss of a star player or two can decimate a team, more so than any other league. Keep an eye on pre-game lineups and you could spot a bargain in the markets.
  • Last 5-10 game results – All NBA teams go on winning and losing streaks. Studying a team’s record over their previous 5-10 games can be an indicator of confidence coming into a game.

NBA Betting Bankroll Management

NBA bankroll management is simple to explain and difficult to adhere to.

If you’re unable to stick to strict bankroll management, you’re going to end up a losing bettor at the end of a grueling NBA season. Long term investment is the aim, and keeping a level head is key.

Don’t chase your losses, and don’t increase your unit amount should you hit a hot streak.

The most popular method of NBA bankroll management is the “star” or a “unit” system.

What are star and unit systems in NBA Betting Bankroll management?

This is when bettors allocate a rating of confidence for their wager.

Allocating a star or unit to a bet indicates your confidence in that bet. A simple way to do this would be to have three confidence levels in each wager you place.


  • i.e 1 star/1 unit, 2 stars/2 units, 3 stars/3 units. (Experienced bettors may go up to 4 and 5 star/units)

Following that, each star or unit has a $ value attached to it, depending on your bankroll amount.

Example –

  • 1 star/1 unit ($10 bet), 2 stars/2 units ($20 bet), 3 stars/3 units ($30 bet).

No matter the confidence you have in a bet, never deviate from your set NBA betting bankroll amount.

The general rule is to never bet more than 2-3 % of your total allocated NBA betting bankroll, per bet.

Example –

The NBA season starts and you have chosen to allocate $1,000 as your NBA betting bankroll.

Total Bankroll = $1,000

1% = $10.00 | 2% = $20.00 | 3% = $30.00

After the first month of the season, your Bankroll has gone up to $1,150, and it’s time to adjust –

Total Bankroll = $1,150

1% = $11.50 | 2% = $23.00 | 3% = $34.50

Should your bankroll increase, don’t get too confident, stay true to your initial plan. If you lose during the first month, you will need to adjust your star and unit sizes accordingly also –

Total Bankroll = $800

1% = $8.00 | 2% = $16.00 | 3% = $24.00

Follow your chosen bankroll system through good and bad results and you’ll have less chance of going bust. You’ll also have a more enjoyable, less stressful NBA betting experience.

Never start your NBA bankroll with more than you can afford to comfortably lose, and never create a new bankroll during an NBA season.

Do this, and you’ll have a good time.

If you are just beginning your NBA betting journey, ‘Flat Betting’ is a good way to get familiar with the game.

NBA Flat Betting = NBA Betting for beginners

Flat Betting is the placing of identical dollar amounts on each bet, no matter your confidence in a wager.

This is recommend this to new bettors and those that don’t have the time to put in the research to understand when a market is genuinely weak.

Should you become more knowledgeable of NBA betting, the star or unit system is the best way to build your bankroll.

Final thoughts on NBA betting

NBA betting is one of the most difficult sports to wager on successfully.

82 games for each of the 30 teams, constant lineup changes and so many ways to find an edge, NBA is one of the most exciting sports to bet on too.

Keep an NBA betting bankroll throughout the season. Following a bankroll will enable you follow your wins and losses, and it will also save you from the worry of betting beyond your means.

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