NBA Basketball Betting Tips – NBA Picks and Parlays – July 2024

When it comes to sports betting, there aren’t many sports more fun than basketball. With the NBA playoffs in full swing and legal online sportsbooks popping up throughout the country, you may be wondering how you can get in on the action. While betting on basketball can be a bit intimidating at first, this guide will walk you through all the betting options and terminology, helping you get off bench and place your very first NBA bet.

NBA Championship Betting Lines

NBA Basketball Betting Odds Explained

Before we start looking at the various betting options on NBA games, we first have to understand what the odds mean. Next to every bet is a number with a plus (+) sign or a minus (-) sign next to them. This number will determine the final payout on winning bets. When there is a plus sign next to the bet this indicates an underdog and a minus symbol will be next to the favorite.

All betting odds are based on a $100 bet. If you were to bet on the Dallas Mavericks (+240) and Miami Heat (-300) game, Dallas is the underdog and the Heat are the favorite. A winning bet on Dallas would return $340 that includes your initial $100 bet plus $240 profit. On the flip side, a $100 bet on Miami would return $133, $100 bet plus $33 profit (or $300 to win $100).

All the best online sports betting sites will automatically do the math for you, and the tellers at live sportsbooks will confirm the final payout before accepting any money, so no need to go find your high school algebra notes to figure out payouts.

Types of NBA Basketball Bets

NBA Basketball Moneyline Bets

A moneyline bet is the simplest bet you can place on an NBA game. When you place a moneyline bet, you are betting on which team will win. However, the odds will change based on who is deemed the favorite and who is the underdog by the sportsbook.

Let’s take a look at an example. If you think that the Knicks (+500) can beat the Raptors (-700), you can make a huge profit on a small bet. On a measly $20 bet, your returns would be $120 if the Knicks could pull off the upset. However that same $20 bet on the Raptors would only net you $2.26 profit with a total payout of $22.26.

Moneyline bets are best for betting the underdog or games close in odds for smaller bets. In the example above, it may not be worth sweating out a $20 bet for only $2.26 profit, but if odds are closer, for example in the Orlando (+140) and Detroit (-167) you would still receive a fairly significant return of $32 ($12 profit) while betting the favorite in Detroit.

NBA Basketball Point Spread Bets

The most popular form of betting on basketball is spread betting. Also referred to as line betting, spread betting is essentially a form of handicap betting where you are betting on a team to win or lose by a certain amount of points that is determined by the sportsbook in order to make the game even.

For example, in a matchup between the Indiana Pacers (+6.5) and Boston Celtics (-6.5), the Pacers are the underdog and the Celtics are the favorite. If you place a spread bet on the Celtics, Boston would need to win by 7 or more points. If you bet on the underdog, the Pacers would need to outright win or lose by 6 or less. You will also see a whole number spread at times (-6,+6). If the Celtics win by exactly 6, it is considered a push and your bet will be refunded in full.

Odds on spread bets are typically between -105 and -120. The “juice” as it referred to results in you having to wager between $105 and $120 in order to see $100 profit on your bet. Different sites will offer less juice, and various sites will offer more friendly lines (spreads) so shopping around can help you save some money and tilt the advantage your way with a smaller spread.

NBA Basketball Totals (Over/Under) Bets

A totals bet is a bet placed on the total number of points scored by both teams. Sportsbooks will determine the likely total score and you can bet on if the score is over or under that number.

For example, in a matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies, DraftKings has set the over/under line at 219.5. If the Warriors were to win 111-100, you would win the bet if you bet the under since the total combined score was 211 points. On the other hand, if the Timberwolves were to score 10 more points, resulting in a score of 111-110, the total combined score would be 221 and the over bet would win. And If the total line is a whole number like 228 and the final score results in 228 exactly, the bet is considered a push and you will get a full refund on your bet.

Draftkings odds
Draftkings odds

NBA Basketball Futures Bets

Futures are a form of betting where you are placing a bet on a future outcome like NBA Champions or Conference Champions. Depending on who the favorites to win are, you will get different odds.

For example, the Warriors are a clear favorite across all sites to win the championship and are listed on DraftKings at +220 odds. This means if you place a bet on the Warriors to win the NBA Championship, a $100 bet would have a return of $320, which is a $220 profit. If you believe the Grizzlies will win it all, at +10000 odds, that same $100 bet would score you $10000 profit.

Shopping around could get you a bigger return on your futures bet. Each site had different odds listed and futures bets may be the most variable when it comes to sportsbooks odds. The odds are also always changing as the season progresses, and drastically change during the playoffs as teams get eliminated.

NBA Quarter/Half Betting

While futures betting is great for patient bettors, quarter and half betting is more for the impatient bettor. If you think a team comes out strong but fades in the 2nd quarter, a first quarter moneyline bet may be a smart move. A quarter or half bet basically breaks games into 2 or 4 individual games. All the previous betting options are available to bet on quarters or halves. When betting on a second half, it’s like resetting all the stats from the first half.

For example, if you place a first half moneyline bet on the Sixers and they are winning 65-45 at the end of the first half, you would win that bet. However if you place a second half bet on the Sixers and they won the full game 125-120, you would lose that bet because the Sixers scored 60 second half points and their opponent scored 75 points in the second half.

NBA Basketball Prop Betting

Prop betting can be a really fun side bet on your favorite NBA games. Prop betting is anything outside of the normal betting markets. Each site or sportsbook will offer different props on NBA games.

A few examples of popular prop bets are:

There are no limits to what prop bets certain sites will offer. Some online sportsbooks will offer more than others so be sure to shop around to find the prop bet you are looking for.

NBA Props and Fantasy Pick’em

One alternative way to get in on the action is to play fantasy pick’em at sites like Underdog Fantasy, Sleeper and PrizePicks.

Both the Underdog Fantasy promo code and PrizePicks promo code score a $100 sign-up bonus for new users.

The Sleeper Fantasy promo code, too, offers the industry standard.

For those unfamiliar with Fantasy Pick’em, these DFS sites offer a unique take on daily fantasy that pits players against the house (rather than other players) in a series of prop bets. There are no lineups to build or salaries to manage. Simply pick a game, look at the available props, make your decision, and choose a bet amount.

For example, when looking at game 1 of the NBA finals, simply pick if Curry will have over or under 32.5 pts and Giannis will have over or under 31.5 points. If you pick both correctly, and $20 wager will give you $49 in returns!

Or if total points is more your thing, just pick 3 players that you think will score the most, select your total amount and how much you wish to wager. In this example if Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Giannis can combine for over 86.5 points, and wager $20, you will double your money for a $40 return.

NBA Live/In-game Betting

Now you can bet on the games live in real time. Say your team gets behind by 10 early in the game. The live-betting line might be +13, even if your team was favored before tipoff. This is a great chance to hedge your bet or grab some value if you think your team still has a chance to win. Live betting is also available for player props such as point or rebound totals. It’s a fun way to stay engaged with the game you’re watching.

NBA Parlay Betting

A parlay bet combines two or more point spread, total or moneyline bets. All bets in the parlay have to win to consider the bet a winner but with higher risk comes higher rewards. Same-game parlays, in which you combine multiple outcomes from the same game, such as the over, point spread, and a player prop, are all the rage these days. Parlays are a great way to turn a little money into a lot of money. Just don’t go too nuts, because the odds of winning a parlay are much smaller than a single bet.

Most sportsbooks offer increased odds of +260 on two team parlays and increase as you add more teams. For example, if you took the Nuggets spread at -110 for $55 and the Orlando Magic spread separately at -110 for $55 and both bets win, your return would be $210 for $100 profit. If you were to place a $110 bet on the same two games in a parlay this would increase the odds to +260 resulting in a $400 payout with $286 profit. Putting the two bets into a parlay earned you an extra $190 in profit for betting on the same two games if they both win, but you would get no return if only one or neither win.

The more games you add to a parlay, the more the odds increase. All sportsbooks will do the math for you so no need for a calculator.

Tips for First Time NBA Basketball Bettors

About the Author

Ryan Gutzler (rgutzler)

Ryan is a former two sport collegiate athlete who now relives the glory days through men’s leagues, coaching and of course, writing about sports. He is also a poker player, sports bettor and avid Sixers, Phillies, Flyers and Duke homer.