The National Basketball Association, or NBA as it is commonly abbreviated, is considered one of the fastest growing leagues, not only on US soil but on a global scale as well. NBA events enjoy a high level of popularity among viewers and sports bettors alike, which can be explained by the sports’ dynamic pace, its great entertainment value, and versatility of bet types.
It would be a mild understatement to say NBA games attract a crowd of viewers. As a matter of fact, the NBA Finals are reported to be among the most watched sporting events in the past few years, surpassing even the MLB World Series and the Stanley Cup in terms of US viewership. Official statistics tell us more than 20 million US viewers took a seat in front of their TVs to watch the NBA Finals in 2017 alone and these figures are expected to increase in the years to follow.
NBA events are just as fun to bet on as they are to watch, especially now that one can wager on this enticing sport online, where they can find a great variety of bets to place along with very tasty odds. If you are keen on the NBA and are looking to wade into the world of basketball betting, reading this article is a good way to start. We, at 100bettingsites.com are going to walk you through all you need to know about the specifics of the sport, the types of bets you can make on it, and the strategies you should stick to in order to become a successful NBA bettor.
NBA History and Facts
NBA as we know it today resulted from the merging of two rival leagues in 1949, namely the National Basketball League (est. 1937) and the Basketball Association of America (est. 1946). Following the two organizations’ merger, the NBA started with a total of 16 teams but this number was reduced to 8 just only six years after due to the league’s financial struggles. It was not until 1961 that the league expanded its number of teams to 9 after the joining of the Chicago Packets, a team whose owner Abe Pollin officially renamed it to Washington Wizards in 1997.
The 1960s saw the league growing at a rapid pace, with more franchises joining the NBA throughout the decade. The latter also saw the rising of the American Basketball Association or ABA in 1967. The latter’s success was short-lived as it only lasted until 1976 when it officially became part of the NBA.
The NBA continued on its course towards expansion throughout the 1980s when a new star appeared on the basketball horizon, pushing the sport’s popularity to unprecedented heights. The basketballer in question was called Earvin Johnson but you may know him under the name Magic Johnson. His rivalry with Celtics player Larry Bird sparked off a new wave of interest in the game, winning over the hearts of a whole new generation of NBA fans.
Those who have a tiny inkling of basketball know that the NBA is all about teams and players of specific eras, with each decade having its hero and dominant team. Michael Jordan was this hero for 1990s basketball and it would be fair to say he changed the game for good. Jordan’s influence on basketball is undeniable as he added a pinch of excitement to the game, furthering the league’s popularity through product endorsement. Jordan became an international icon and paved the way for younger basketballers like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant.
Jordan’s retirement saw the NBA opening its doors to players from other countries, with some of the most popular international recruits being Dirk Nowitzki and Steven Adams, among many others. Today, the NBA comprises a total of 30 teams, 29 of which are based in the US and one, the Toronto Raptors, that is located in Canada. Here are a few more quick facts about the NBA and its players you might find of some interest:
- The overall attendance during the 2016/2017 NBA season amounted to nearly 30 million people.
- The league generates over US$7 billion in revenue each season.
- Michael Jordan was penalized with a $5,000 fine for each game he played wearing his branded Air Jordan sneakers.
- Kobe Bryant’s mum and dad signed his first deal with the NBA in 1996 because the player himself was not even 18 years old at the time.
- LeBron James is actually ambidextrous which is to say he uses both his hands equally well.
- “Muggsy” Bogues is the shortest player in the history of the league, at a height of 5′ 3” only which is about 1.60 meters.
Understanding the Specifics of the Game
We would like to first outline the rules of basketball in brief since it is impossible to turn NBA betting into a source of income without having a proper grasp of the game’s specifics. To begin with, the rules of basketball are the same throughout the entire world, so it does not matter whether you plan to bet on an event from FIBA (International Basketball Federation) or on one from the NBA – the game’s specifics and bet types would coincide.
In a game of basketball, two competing teams meet at a court whose size is either 28.7 x 15.2 meters for NBA events or slightly smaller at 28 x 15 meters for the FIBA games. The purpose of each team is to score more points than the opponents. This is achieved by making field goals which award two points when scored from within the three-point arc. Field goals scored from a greater distance, i.e. from outside the three-point line are more difficult to make, which is why the scoring team is awarded three points for those. When a player is fouled, they are awarded what is called a free throw, which is an unobstructed shot made at a specific distance (15 ft) from the rival team’s basket. A successful free shot awards one point.
The players would use techniques like dribbling and passing to advance up the enemy’s section of the course, while also trying to block members of the rival team from doing the same and scoring goals themselves. An NBA game normally consists of four quarters, with each quarter lasting for as long as twelve minutes. One of the most distinctive features of basketball is that a game cannot end with an equal result for both teams – if both teams score an equal number of points, there is usually an overtime so that one of the sides involved can prevail. In fact, the same pertains to the other three major US leagues (MLB, NFL, and NHL).
The league itself is divided into two Conferences, Eastern and Western, which on their own consist of three divisions each. We already mentioned in our brief historical overview that the league spans a stipulated number of 30 teams, also called franchises. Typically, the only way for a new franchise to enter the league is through collecting enough votes from existing members. Another interesting aspect about the NBA is that the franchises compete mostly among themselves and are rarely facing opponents from teams based out of the country.
During each regular season, the NBA teams would participate in a total of 82 games, divided equally between home and away clashes. When the regular season ends, eight of the best-scoring teams from each of the two Conferences are sent to the playoffs to face each other in the ultimate battle for the NBA Championship Trophy.
Bets to Make on NBA Events
The second step in the career of a successful NBA bettor is learning to distinguish between the different bet types available for this sport. The ways to wager on basketball are quite straightforward but there are more complex bet types you can level up to once you master the simpler ones. Most of all, it is important to recognize that straightforward bets can be just as lucrative as complex wagers. Now, let’s take a peek at what the most popular forms of NBA wagering are all about.
Moneyline bets are the same in their essence across all US leagues and are commonly placed by rookie punters since they are the simplest ones to understand. With moneyline wagers, you are betting on who you think will win a given game. The number of points your chosen team prevails with is irrelevant in this instance.
Now, here is a quick question for you. You are eyeing a moneyline bet for a clash between the Boston Celtics (-180) vs. the Chicago Bulls (+165). The odds for each team are listed in the brackets, with the plus sign showing us the Bulls are the underdog in this case. Who are you going to back?
Before you make a decision (and this should never be based on subjective criteria like which team you like better), you should understand how moneyline odds work. The plus sign for the favorite shows you will have to invest more into your bet than you can potentially win. In this case, your chances of collecting a profit would be larger but the payout you receive will be smaller.
The minus sign for the underdog indicates the opposite, i.e. the net profits you can collect with a base bet unit of $100. Remember you are wagering on the underdog when you back the Chicago Bulls, so the likelihood of turning a profit is smaller. To compensate for this, bookmakers would offer higher payouts for the underdogs as a means to balance off the market. The bigger the figure behind each sign, the bigger favorite or underdog the team it corresponds to.
You are not required to necessarily use units of $100, though. You can easily figure out your net profits from underdogs when using other units by first dividing the amount you wager by the number 100 and then multiplying the result by the odds. So provided you back the Bulls with $50, your net profit will be ($50/100) x 165 = $82.50. Note that the way to calculate your bet profits when betting on the favorite is different. Here you will need to first divide your wager by the odds and then multiply the result by 100 like this ($50/180) x 100 for a net profit of $27.77.
The Point Spread
Many rookie bettors mistakenly believe moneylines and point spreads are the same thing because they are still backing one of two sides in a given game. However, point spreads are different in that the team you choose to support needs to beat the opponent with a predetermined number of points.
But what is the exact reason for this? The better team would usually beat the underdog, so naturally all punters would choose the favorite. One such scenario would hardly be profitable for bookmakers, on the contrary – it is more likely to cause them to close shop. Respectively, sportsbooks would look for ways to balance off the market so that a relatively equal number of wagers are made for both participating sides in a basketball game.
Points are “spread” in such a manner so as to take away from the advantage of the favorites – this is also known as “point shaving”. Meanwhile, points are added to the overall score of the underdog to make betting on the weaker team more appealing. The purpose is again to create a balance in the books. The the same is achieved through payouts manipulation for moneyline wagers. A typical point spread looks like this:
- Cleveland Cavaliers +9
- Washington Wizards -9
Thus, provided that you choose to back the favorite, the Wizards in this example, your bet will win only on occasion they defeat the Cavaliers by more than 9 points. Of course, you may choose to back the underdog, in which case the Cavaliers should fall by more than 9 points in order for your bet to pay out. Should the Cavaliers lose by the exact number of points set by the bookmaker, or 9, the bets tie and you have your stake returned.
Totals are one of the most commonly made types of wager in any sport, and basketball is not an exception. These are just as straightforward as the bets made on the moneyline but the difference is here you are betting the result of a basketball game would be above or under the specific number of points the bookie has posted. This pertains to the overall number of points scored by both teams, hence the name “totals”. And here is what an over/under total bet would look like for a game between the Toronto Raptors against the LA Lakers:
- Total: 183.5
- Over: -110
- Under: +110
This basically means you need the overall score to be above 183 in order for you to win an over bet of $110, for a net profit of $100. If you choose the under outcome, you need both teams to score fewer points than 183, in which case you will be paid out $110 for a $100 wager. The minuses and pluses show you which is the less likely outcome. In basketball, over/under totals would most commonly range between 160 and 220 points.
Propositions (sometimes also called futures or props) are some of the most exotic bets to make in sports like basketball. We would like to point out that “exotic” does not necessarily equal “profitable” since props are indeed very hard to get right. These bets have nothing to do with the final result of basketball games. Instead, they are made on other aspects of the game and the scope here is indeed vast. There is almost an unlimited number of props to make in basketball but some of the most popular ones are placed on:
- The player to earn their team the first two points in the game
- The number of three-point line goals to be scored
- A player scoring more than the posted number of points
- A player blocking the dunk of a specific member of the rival team
- On the overall number of dunks made during the game
- The final point difference between the two participating teams
Parlays rank as some of the more advanced bet types in basketball since they are more difficult to win with. This is so because a parlay comprises a series of moneyline, over/under total, or point spread bets. Parlays are inherently riskier which makes them all the more exciting, especially if you win. In this vein, we must specify that a parlay wins only when all selections it includes are successful.
To compensate for the increase in risk, parlays offer very appetizing odds. Do not be blinded by the promise of huge parlay wins, though. We recommend you know your limits and remember that the more selections you add to your parlay, the more improbable it is to win. Even some of the most seasoned punters out there prefer to stick to three-selection parlays since they allow them to better manage risk while still receiving tasty payouts in return.
Outrights are another more advanced basketball bet type. In order to be successful with those, you would need to do your homework on a regular basis and keep your own books with statistics pertaining to the previous performance of the teams you are interested in. And by previous performance we do not mean only their results in the past few games but their score throughout the entire season.
This will help you with outrights because here you are practically betting on long-term results like which team is going to win the NBA Finals, who is to win in a given division, or who will win the Eastern or Western Conference. Some bookies would even accept outright bets on which basketballer will be proclaimed New Player of the Year. Odds for outrights are normally offered at the start of the season but would change as it progresses towards its end. We guess there is no need to tell you these are quite difficult to win with.
This is one of the most advanced bets to place on a basketball game, so rookie punters are recommended to stay away from them, at least in the beginning. These are quite similar to the moneyline wagers in that you are again betting on which side you think would win, the only difference being the result pertains to a quarter of the game only. It is possible to make point spread and totals bets on quarter results, too.
You must be well versed in basketball to make a correct prediction but there are several other things that bear consideration. For instance, if your team is prone to experiencing a quick head-start only to fall behind at the end of a given game, your best choice would be to back them during the first quarter.
Advantages of Betting on NBA Events Online
Many basketball bettors appreciate the advancement in technologies since it has enabled them to make punts on their favorite sport without having to visit their local landbased bookmaker. There are several advantages to placing your basket bets at online sportsbooks and we elaborate on them below:
The increased level of comfort is one of the most common reasons why many punters ditch landbased sportsbooks for online and mobile bookies. In fact, this is not only more convenient but it is also a lot more cost-effective since it spares you the extra expenses on gas, parking, or even babysitting if you are a parent of a very young child. It also prevents you from having to suffer the clamorous atmosphere in landbased betting shops where you often also have to wait in line to make a punt.
The extra money offered by online sportsbooks are a sufficient enough incentive for many punters to switch. That is not to say landbased bookies do not treat their customers to various promotions, they do, of course, but the bonuses you can find online are much more appealing and above all, diverse.
The ability to make comparisons in the odds and hunt for the best moneylines is a major drawing attraction, especially for seasoned punters. It is no secret to anyone who bets frequently on sports that online one can find far more generous odds. Why back the Celtics at odds of -180 when you can back them at odds of -160, for instance?
Things to Consider when Betting on the Hoops
It is of utmost importance to understand that successful NBA bettors do not get the correct results right merely by shooting in the dark. You will not go far in this field with blind guesses. It takes hard work, preparation, competence, and persistence to become a winning basketball bettor. Here are a few things you need to bear in mind if willing to work on getting there:
Know your odds since they hold the key to understanding the likelihood of a given outcome occurring, while at the same time allowing you to calculate the amount you can collect from winning bets. It is essential for you to learn how odds are converted into probability, i.e. likelihood, and invest your hard-earned money only on punts that offer you positive expectation.
Do your homework before running any risks with basketball betting. Correct predictions are often made on the basis of statistics and the good news is tons of those are available online, even at the websites of online bookies themselves. Some of the things basketball bettors are recommended to check and keep track off include the Against the Spread records of NBA teams along with their long-term over/under results.
Injuries might influence the outcome of a basketball game, which is why it is important for you to keep track of NBA basketballers’ physical form. It is not rare for players to suffer physical mishaps at the course and as unpleasant as this is, it can help you gain an edge with your bets. Check the starting line-ups to see who is going to partake in the game. The easiest way for you to track the physical form of players would be to follow them on social network services like Instagram and Twitter.
Schedules are another thing to bear in mind when risking money on basketball bets. The NBA teams might partake in the same number of clashes during the regular season, but it is the sheer volume of games a team participates in subsequently that may have a say on the overall performance. In the NBA, it would often happen so that a team has to play four away games over the course of five days only, which, it goes without saying, is quite exhausting. The quality of the players’ performance is likely to drop down as fatigue builds up. This would increase the chances of the home team defeating the away team at the end of one such four-game stretch.