NBA Betting Strategy

NBA Betting Strategy

Of the four major American sports, the NBA is still regarded as the easiest to predict on a nightly basis. This perceived predictability is a double-edged sword; on one side, it’s nice to be able to handicap a matchup on your own and be fairly accurate more often than not. On the other side, the bookmakers are close to or spot on with their opening lines with more regularity than we’d desire. Below, we are going to explain the basics of creating an NBA Betting Strategy.

NBA Betting Strategy
NBA Betting Strategy

Still, betting on NBA basketball offers great profit potential to those who know how to navigate this unique betting landscape. One big key to staying profitable in NBA betting is to understand how the lines are made and what they mean. Staying sharp in this area will allow you to find spots where the lines are off and ready to be hammered, and also when to stay away, which is a big skill in keeping a good margin in NBA betting. Whether you’re new to NBA betting or you’re a seasoned gambler looking for a way to sharpen your basketball betting acumen, we’re very confident that you’ll find our tips useful.

How to Bet on the NBA?

Before forming a strategy, players need to understand all the bet types. Beginners need to learn which bets work best when it comes to NBA betting.

Standard Bets

The most basic types of bets found at every sportsbook and online sportsbook.


A moneyline bet is the most straight forward type of wager. A player picks the team they think is going to win and bets against the moneyline odds. A favorite will have negative or “minus-money” odds, meaning you will have to bet more than you will get in return if the favorite wins. Moneyline odds will be positive or “plus-money” for an underdog, meaning your return if your team wins will be greater than the amount of your initial wager.

For example:

Team A is -200 to win
Team B is +180 to win

In this case, team A is a considerable favorite (about a 5-point favorite on the spread – more on that later). Team B is the underdog. The negative -200 number for Team A indicates that you would need to bet $200 to receive a $100 return. The positive +180 number indicates the amount you would receive for every $100 wagered. In this case, a $100 bet on Team B would yield a $180 return.


When you bet the spread, you are betting on the margin of victory. Either you will need a team to win by a certain number of points or more or will need a team to win or only lose by a certain number of points.

For example:

Team A -7.5
Team B +7.5

In this case, if you want to play the favorite, Team A, you would “lay” 7.5 points, meaning you will need Team A to win by 8 or more to cash your ticket. If you want to bet the underdog, you “take” the 7.5 points, meaning if Team B wins OR if they lose by less than 8, you win your bet.

The standard moneyline odds for a spread bet on a spread bet is -110, meaning for either side of the wager, you will need to bet $110 to win $100.

Totals Betting

A totals bet is a wager on the “total” amount points scored by both teams in a given game. When betting on totals, you are 100% agnostic as to who will win the game; you are only trying to ascertain if it will be a high scoring game or a low scoring one. The average total has gone up sharply the past few years, as scoring in the NBA has increased around 10% since the 2014-2015 season.

NBA Betting
NBA Betting

If you think this trend implies that one should automatically bet the Over, you have a lot to learn about the betting market. Bookies – and your fellow bettors – are keenly aware of these trends and set their numbers accordingly. Whereas four years ago, it would not be uncommon to see a total of 192 or 200. Nowadays the typical total is between 208 and 230. Yeah, it’s been that big of a leap for offense recently. Like a spread bet, a total is usually set with -110 moneyline odds, ~ a $110 bet wins $100.

There are a number of variations on the Totals bet. The most common is betting on each team total. The more advanced include 1st QTR, 1st Half, 2nd Half In-Game totals.

NBA Betting Strategy

These basic skills and strategies lay the groundwork for a solid and informed NBA betting strategy. You always want to have a good foundation to start with, and these tips help lay that groundwork. You might find some of these tips to be obvious, but simple disciplines go a long way. In the long run, keeping your betting game on the rails is one of the biggest factors that will separate you from winning and losing significant units of money.

While some of the tips in this section can be applied to most other forms of sports betting, they are listed here because of their unique value to betting the NBA.

Make a Bankroll Management Plan

Most folks budget when it comes to basic stuff like food or housing, but for whatever reason, they completely abandon this concept when it comes to gambling. But the bottom line is this: if you want to be able to gamble consistently and win, you have to have some basic bankroll management.

How you keep tabs on your betting bankroll is up to you; we’re not trying to force financial advice upon you. But NBA betting can be very intensive, and there is a lot of action to be had each night. To keep from hemorrhaging cash in a short amount of time, you want to have a good plan for what your overall bankroll is and what your standard bet will be based on the balance.

No matter how basic your method may be, having a way to keep an eye on your bankroll will help keep you from going off the rails with huge bets that could cripple you if they miss. You’ll also be more likely to avoid the temptation of chasing losses. A good plan is the best way to stay in the pocket with your betting system and find out what works and what doesn’t over an extended period of time.

Schedule Tracking

The premise is simple; teams don’t perform as well when they’re fatigued as they do when they’re fresh. Much like the injury tracking above, it’s also good common sense to make sure your betting horse isn’t limping into the arena on tired legs. But what was long held by sharps as a hunch has now become a legit game changer in the age of data. We’re sure some big shot at the books played a role as well, but the bottom line is that schedule tracking is a big thing to watch out for now. No NBA betting strategy is complete without taking a proper look at the schedule.

What is schedule tracking, you ask? Schedule tracking is looking at a team’s schedule and looking for rough patches in the schedule that would lead the team to be tired or fatigued. The hope is that on these particular games, the betting line fails to reflect this crucial factoid and a team is overvalued, giving great value to a bet against that team. This is especially valuable for teams that the betting public likes no matter the case, as books have to keep the lines high to keep their action balanced.

There are multiple angles to look for when using scheduling to influence your betting. The most well-known example of a schedule-based betting trend is the “back-to-back”. This is the popular way of saying that a team will play on consecutive nights. Back-to-backs are a part of most NBA daily betting analyses when it’s in play, especially when the particular team’s games are on the road or have a road/home combo.

Track Your Results by Bet Type

You certainly want to keep good records of your results no matter what sport you’re betting. This is the mark of a good handicapper. But we think it’s particularly important to track your NBA bets by bet type. By bet type, we primarily mean tracking your bets by:

  • Spreads vs. moneyline
  • Straight bets vs. parlays (and if parlays, how many legs)
  • Full-game bets vs. 1st/2nd half bets or bets on quarters

These are just the most basic examples. However, you can track your bets by any kind of pattern that you think is worth a second look. The most important thing is that you actually do it. The point of it is to make sure that each type of bet you put down is making you money. If a certain bet you’re making is a drain on your bankroll over time, save that bet or transfer it into a bet type that performs well for you.