In the United States, the battle for the second-most popular sports league has been all but settled. It’s the NBA, which has nestled itself into a comfortable spot behind the NFL. The high-scoring league brings plenty of thrills to the table, and fans respond in droves.
Legal sports betting in Ontario has enhanced the appeal and that excitement will only increase once the market opens to major sportsbooks in February or March of 2020.
Before that happens, it’s a great time to catch up on all of the ins and outs of NBA odds. We’ve got you covered right here.
Latest NBA betting odds
From the opening tip of the regular season straight through to the NBA Finals, there are plenty of games for hoops fans to key in on. Legal sportsbooks will have odds and lines for each contest on the docket, and you can always shop around to compare prices.
Our customizable live odds feed makes that process a snap as we pull together the latest odds from the top operators across the industry. You can compare the odds for top bet types like moneylines, spreads and totals in a flash. Take a look at how it works below.
NBA opening lines
The NBA season is filled with possibilities for bettors. Some nights are absolutely packed with games, and others see just a few clubs are in action. Regardless of the situation, you’ll find NBA betting lines and odds for each contest at legal sportsbooks. Expect to see opening lines no later than the morning of the game.
We’re talking about the initial release of the odds for the game, so it’s a first look at how the oddsmakers perceive the matchup. Main game listings will show odds for three big bet types.
- Chicago Bulls +105 +1.5 (-110) O 207.5 (-110)
- Toronto Raptors -115 -1.5 (-110) U 207.5 (-110)
Reading from left to right next to the two team names are the odds for the moneyline, point spread and totals. The direction of the numbers tells you the favoured and underdog sides: negative for the former and positive for the latter. For this contest, the Raptors are slight favourites on both the moneyline and spread.
On spreads and totals, you’ll see the number set by the book—1.5 and 207.5—as well as the actual odds for placing the bet. After the initial release, bets will begin to flow in. This can lead to adjustments in the numbers as sportsbooks react to market action. You don’t have to settle for prices you don’t like as you can always shop around to compare numbers.
Some bettors like to wager as soon as possible after the initial release while others prefer to wait and see how the market reacts. Whatever approach works best for you is fine, but there are pros and cons to both methods.
Place wagers on the opening line
- Pro: This is the freshest number reflecting how the sportsbook views the matchup at hand.
- Con: After the initial release, news can break that impacts the odds, such as an injury to a key player.
Betting closer to tipoff
- Pro: All of the news and notes are in, so you’re betting on the latest real-time odds informed by market reaction.
- Con: The numbers can move to a point at which you’re not as comfortable compared to earlier figures.
When handicapping games, you should always make note of where the odds were at the release and compare them to the present. Taking the time to do so can give you a much better perspective on the overall perception of the game.
Popular NBA betting options
Here are the most common types of wagers available for betting on basketball games:
If you’re new to sports betting, the moneyline bet makes for a fantastic starting point. There’s also plenty of value to be found for even the most seasoned of handicappers. For this simple bet, you just have to choose which side you think will win.
- Boston Celtics +115
- Los Angeles Lakers -135
In the above example, the Lakers are favoured over the Celtics. The range between the numbers tells us how close the oddsmakers predict the matchup will be. The range is relatively close here, but a bigger span would indicate a heavy favourite.
When you’re ready to bet on the moneyline, just locate the game listing at the online or mobile sportsbook of your choice and click on the odds for your selection. It goes on the betting slip automatically, and you’ll just need to add in an amount and verify.
Potential returns on winning moneyline bets are based on the odds, but it’s pretty simple to ballpark it. For negative odds, the number tells you how much to wager to get back $100: that’s $135 at -135. When the number is positive, that’s how much you’d get back on a $100 bet: $115 at +115.
The point spread wager is incredibly popular for NBA betting. Beyond choosing sides, you also have to account for the spread, which is a number set by the book. It’s like an estimated margin of victory, and the side you choose has to cover it.
- Denver Nuggets +2.5 (-110)
- Utah Jazz -2.5 (-110)
As we check out this matchup, we see that the Jazz are 2.5-point favourites over the Nuggets. For Utah to cover, they’ll have to win by three points or more. A 100-97 victory gets it done, but a 110-108 win equals a miss.
Over on the Denver side, they need to keep the margin to two points or fewer to cover, but they can also beat the spread by winning the game outright. A two-point loss is great for Nuggets bettors, but a five-point defeat is a bust.
At most books, the starting point for spread odds is -110, and they’ll adjust from there based on market action. A winning $100 spread wager at the standard odds means that $90.90 is coming back your way. If you bet $110 at -110, the return is an even $100.
NBA fandom has accelerated, in part, because of high-scoring games. For our purposes, you can focus on the amount of points that will actually be scored in the game via totals bets. Sportsbooks set the bar with an estimated number.
- Over 204.5 (-110)
- Under 204.5 (-110)
The total, also known as the over/under, is set at 204.5 points. If you choose the over, that means 205 points or more need to be scored. For under bettors, the goal is for the final score to be at 204 points or fewer.
For quick examples, a score of 105-100 (205 total points) is great news for over bettors, but it’s a loss for those who wagered on the under. If the final score is 102-100 (202 total), the opposite is true: under bettors celebrate while over bettors lick their wounds.
As with the spread, many operators use a default of -110 as the starting point for totals odds, so you can expect $90.90 back on winning $100 wagers. Shopping around for totals odds is good practice as you can often find some favourable ticks of difference.
All of the pregame bets attract lots of action for NBA games, but you can also take a longer-term view of the league. When betting in the futures market, you make predictions on how the season as a whole will play out. Odds for the biggest markets will come out after the current season is in the books while others will trickle in from there. Markets will likely include:
- NBA Finals winner
- Division and conference winners
- Teams to make or miss playoffs
- Regular season win totals by team
- Player award winners, like NBA MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.
The winner of the next NBA Finals is the biggest market. At release, NBA Finals odds will be listed for all teams. As with other bets, there will be movement in the numbers in response to betting action. Odds for a handful of favourites might look like this.
- Brooklyn Nets +300
- Los Angeles Lakers +350
- Los Angeles Clippers +500
- Milwaukee Bucks +650
Payouts on futures bets work just like any other wager: it’s all about the odds. As an example, if you placed a $100 bet on the Clippers at +500 and they go on to win it all, you’ll get a return of $500. While you can put all of your eggs in one basket, many futures bettors spread the risk with multiple selections.
If they’ve budgeted correctly and one of their choices goes on to win, they turn a profit. A winning futures bet can’t be settled until the outcome is known, so remember that your funds will be tied up until then. These are entertaining wagers that provide you with some season-long rooting interest and the profit chances to boot.
Other common types of NBA bets
The overall menu for NBA basketball betting is pretty vast, and we’re not just talking about the number of games available for wagering. There are a number of other popular ways to get some skin in the game with pro hoops. Let’s take a look at three more choices, all of which attract plenty of attention at legal online and mobile sportsbooks.
NBA prop betting
Many of the most popular prop bets revolve around individual players and how they perform. It’s almost like a mashup of fantasy sports and betting, so those with experience in daily or season-long fantasy can use props as a great starting point.
- Total rebounds plus points for Pascal Siakam—Over/Under 28.5?
- Who will be the game’s leading scorer—Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant?
- Will Giannis Antetokounmpo lead the Bucks in scoring—Yes/No?
Props can also revolve around teams or the game as a whole. You can find the available props for upcoming games by clicking through the main listing. In addition to those with two choices to make, you’ll find lots with multiple selections.
NBA live betting
Live betting keeps the wagering action rolling along after the game gets underway. These are real-time wagers based on what’s happening on the floor. You’ll see updated game lines and various other opportunities, such as:
- Which side will hole the lead at halftime—76ers or Raptors?
- Will overtime be needed—Yes/No?
- Final margin of victory will be—3 points or less /4-6 points / 7 points or more?
This is a market that moves really fast with continually updating odds and offerings. All of the industry’s top operators offer live betting, and you can use their mobile apps as a great companion while enjoying all of the action.
A parlay is a bet in which you include two or more choices on the same slip. In order to win, you have to be right on all of them. An example parlay could be three point-spread picks for a slate of NBA games.
- Trail Blazers -5 (-114) over Pacers
- Raptors +6.5 (-110) over Nets
- Warriors -2.5 (-110) over Mavericks
- Total parlay odds: +584
Winning parlay bets will return nice scores, but they’re challenging to hit consistently. For our example, a winning $20 wager at odds of +573 would return $116.83.
NBA Proline odds vs. online sportsbooks
Proline games from OLG have been a legal option for Ontario sports bettors since the 1990s. For most of its history, Proline has only been able to legally offer parlay-style wagers. However, in August of 2021, single-sports betting was legalized in Ontario and Proline Plus was launched. It remains the only legal sports betting option in the province.
Single-sports betting options are an improvement on parlay bets, which require a player to get multiple wagers right in one bet to cash. Doing so often provides a generous return. The downside is one wrong pick makes it a losing wager.
At legal sportsbooks, there are many more options for consumers. Most notably, single-game wagering is available. As opposed to hoping for the best with a multi-sided ticket, users can focus in on the games that most interest them and wager accordingly. There will also be clear-cut odds for each of the available choices.
Some Proline games do have odds or spread elements attached, but it’s just not the same. If you compare the numbers you see in that arena versus what’s available at online and mobile sportsbooks, the differences become readily apparent. For those interested in betting on sports, control over what to wager on and clarity in the numbers is just more appealing.
Sportsbook rules for betting on basketball
All legal sportsbooks have house rules that need to be followed for betting on the NBA. Many of the rules are very straightforward and cover how bets are placed and settled, but others go deeper than that and zero in on specific circumstances that could impact wagers. For the NBA, here are a few top points to keep in mind.
- Bets will be settled based on the NBA basketball odds at the time of bet placement. In short, you’ll be paid out at that price for winners. Any movement in the numbers afterward will have no impact on settlement.
- Unless noted in the wager description, all NBA bets will be settled inclusive of any overtime periods.
- If there’s a slight delay in the action or game start, bets will remain active. However, a complete cancellation will lead to wagers being voided and refunded.
- For player props, markets will be voided for those who fail to see any action in the game. If a player is ruled out prior to tipoff, all markets for that athlete will be pulled off the board. Any placed wagers will be refunded.
- Futures market wagers are not settled until the outcome is official. In the unlikely event of the complete cancellation of an NBA season, all markets will be considered void and refunded.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that books will not entertain disputes on game situations you disagree with, such as an officiating call. The settlement of all wagers is based on official league data and statistics. Many sportsbooks have dedicated sections for house rules online or include them in FAQs. Take the time to review the rules wherever you play.