The National Basketball Association has been one of the top leagues in America since the 1970s. The great Celtics and Lakers rivalries of the 1980s helped expand the league’s popularity, and in recent years, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and now LeBron James, and the likes of Stephen Curry, have catapulted the game to new heights in the United States and abroad.
Like all the major American sports leagues, the NBA has a negative stance on gambling (although that is evolving under Commissioner Adam Silver), but that doesn’t stop people from going to NBA betting sites and placing a few wagers.
Helped by online basketball betting sites and markets, the game rose in popularity; especially internationally. Betting options and markets for NBA bettors have grown tremendously since the advent of online wagering, and the league has become one of the hottest bets around.
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Betting on the NBA seems like a full-time job (and it is for some). Each night is full of injury questions or as we get later into the season, the threat of coaches resting their players for the postseason or teams looking to take for draft picks. Learning the ins and outs of NBA betting sites and markets is vital, but keeping up with the latest news will offer players more betting opportunities and a deeper understanding of the league, which will lead to more profits.
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NBA Betting Types
NBA betting sites have probably, since the largest expansion since online betting markets, hit the mainstream. The nature of the sport and the popularity of the game has helped with increasing betting choices. Those who bet on football won’t find too big of a difference when it comes to bet types. NBA wagering markets use point spread wagering for betting sides, like football, and not moneyline markets; where it is the standard form of betting for baseball and hockey.
- Miami Heat +3.5 (-110) at San Antonio Spurs -3.5 (-110)
The visiting Heat are 3.5 point underdogs to the host Spurs. For the Heat to cover and bring bettors home a profit, they need to win the game or lose by three points or fewer. The Spurs must win the game outright and by more than four points.
NBA betting sites follow the same rules, where pushes are in play. With our example above, a push isn’t possible, but if the spread were -3 or any number without a half-point, it would be play. Those that bet on basketball from both sides get their stakes returned in the case of a push.
Moneyline NBA betting takes away the point spread element and bettors worry only about their side winning outright. Of course, the odds for a heavy favorite can be quite steep, while hitting it big with an underdog can pay off with a larger than usual payday.
- Miami Heat +150 at San Antonio Spurs -120
Moneyline betting isn’t as popular as spread wagering, but offers some extra value if you’re predicting an upset. Wagering on large favorites via moneylines isn’t usually a sound strategy, but taking underdogs can pay off in a big way. So be sure to look for these underdogs at the NBA betting sites before you place your wagers.
Totals are the most popular market besides point spread betting in terms of NBA wagers. The total is the combined amount of points scored in the game. This total takes into account regulation and overtime. Bettors can take the ‘Over’ or ‘Under’ on the oddsmaker’s line for each game.
- Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs Over (-110) 189.5 / Under 189.5
NBA totals vary widely from game to game. Games with lower projected overall totals will normally be at around 190 or below, but games projected to be heavily defensive can go as low as the mid 170’s. Most totals will fall in the range of 185-220 points. Games that are projected to be especially high-scoring will sometimes be around 230 points or higher.
Parlay rules and payouts won’t change from NFL parlays. Parlays must be a minimum of two teams, but usually go as high a dozen. Each leg of the parlay must win for the bets on NBA to cashout, with any losses making the wager a losing one.
A -3 favorite and a +3 underdog would move to +2 and +8 when bet in a two-team, 5-point teaser. As with parlays, each leg of the teaser must win for the bet to be a winner.
NBA futures are wagers on outcomes decided at a later date. These can be months or weeks before the event and odds will update as the season progresses. The most popular NBA futures are odds to win the NBA Title, and Eastern and Western Conference Championships.
NBA propositions markets have grown heavily in the past several years. These markets are wagers on outcomes other than outright winner and total score of the match.
Bets can focus on the games of an individual player, such as Kevin Durant’s total number of points plus assists, or they can be team related. A team’s total rebounds are an example of a team prop. Another popular one is total points scored for a specific team.
Propositions are where bookmakers can be more creative. Some of the bets are for entertainment value, but there is also plenty of value in prop bets. Oddsmakers seem to expand their prop markets every year, and betting on the NBA is no exception. The league doesn’t have near the selection that NFL bettors do, but its prop markets are much larger than MLB and NHL.
Live betting on the NBA is more common than NHL or MLB live betting, but pales in comparison to the NFL. Most betting sites will offer live betting nightly on the NBA, but usually only for prominent or nationally televised games. In the US market, there is rarely more than one NBA game available for live betting per site. Playoff games are much more likely to have live betting options as well.
The range of live betting options varies depending on the sportsbook, but many will offer updated live odds on the spread and total, along with other proposition bets.
History and Season
Founded shortly after World War II in 1946 the NBA initially known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). In 1949, the BAA agreed to absorb the NBL, and the newly created National Basketball Association (NBA) was born.
The league began with just eight franchises but expanded to eleven franchises in 1950. Many of these teams are still in the league today, including the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers.
Fast-forward to 2014, and the NBA has 30 teams and an 82-game season. Each team plays 41 home games and 41 away games. Teams are divided into two conferences, the Western and Eastern Conference.
While teams play most of their games against their conference and divisions, each team will play every other team in the league at least twice per season. The NBA and the NHL are the only American sports in which each team plays every other team.
After the 82-game regular season, the playoffs begin. Eight teams from each conference make the playoffs and seeded #1 through #8. The regular season record determines the seeding.
For instance, the #8 seed will face the #1, #7 versus the #2 and so on. The team with the higher seed will have home court advantage. In the NBA Finals, the team with the better record in the regular season will have home court advantage.
Each series is a best-of-seven game series. The team that wins four games advances to the next round and the loser eliminated. The winner of the Western and Eastern Conference Finals face off in the NBA Championship Finals.
The first professional league was formed in 1898. It was called the National Basketball League. It only had six teams, all on the east coast. Unfortunately, the league folded in 1904.
FIBA was instrumental in getting basketball into the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The United States won the gold medal that year.
The American Basketball Association (ABA) formed to compete with the NBA. The ABA rules were a bit different than the NBA’s, and they had plenty of promotions and the three-point shot.
The 1992 United State men’s Olympic basketball team, known as the “Dream Team,” won the gold medal. The team’s stars included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and many other NBA greats.
NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, writes an op-ed in the New York times that calls for legalized sports betting on pro games. He became the first head of major professional sport to call for legalized sports betting.
The invention of basketball is partly due to the brutal game of football. It was invented in the 1890s by a Canadian physical education instructor, James Naismith. The game garnered an immediate following but didn’t explode quite as quickly as baseball.
Basketball began growing around the world, and after leagues had begun to take hold in French and Italy, the International Basketball Federation was formed in 1932. FIBA, as it is commonly known, is still in existence today.
The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was founded in New York City on June 6th. They merged with the rival National Basketball League (NBL) and adopted the name, National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1949.
The ABA ultimately was folded into the NBA in the summer of 1976. The league’s top franchise, the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs were moved over to the NBA.
Former NBA referee, Tom Donaghy, pleads guilty to federal charges relating to betting on NBA games as a referee. He is sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Basketball Betting Now
The NBA’s popularity has exploded in recent years. Not only are ratings close to all-time highs in the U.S., but international audiences have also grown exponentially in the past few decades. NBA betting markets continue to grow each year and league’s positive stance on sports betting can only be a good thing.