How to Bet on Basketball

As one of the most popular sports in the world, basketball is a lot of fun to bet on. When you’re just starting, though, it can seem overwhelming.

Let’s say you want to bet on the NBA. With 30 teams and an 82-game regular season, the NBA is a grind for players and bettors. The only way to consistently beat the oddsmakers is to develop a sound approach.

Well, that’s why we’re here! If you want to bet on basketball effectively, your first step should be to go through our list of tips below.

Place Your Bets Early

The best way to gain an edge in NBA betting is to start betting as soon as the markets open. On the East Coast, that’s usually around 8-9 AM.

Why is this so important? Simple: the NBA is a huge market, which means nothing slips between the cracks. Good bettors identify inefficiencies and place value bets before the market corrects itself.

Now, bookmakers adjust their lines based on what people are betting on. Every time that happens, the line becomes more accurate and harder to beat. That’s why your best chance is to capitalize on any initial mistakes.

That said, betting late isn’t always a bad idea. For example, imagine a game between the favored Celtics and Wizards at the TD Garden. Since the masses will bet on the Celtics, there may be a value bet on the Wizards closer to tip-off.

Think of betting on basketball as a multiplayer game. You’re not only competing with the bookmakers but other bettors as well. So knowing the experts’ NBA picks is a great way to read the market.

Consider Live Betting

Live betting allows you to place a bet after the game begins. This is an excellent opportunity for an intelligent bettor to make quick cash.

Live odds will frequently change in every game based on what’s happening. You can use these changing odds to your advantage by capitalizing on the game’s volatility. You may even hedge previous bets for a more significant profit.

The obvious things you can capitalize on are our injuries and pricing mistakes. In addition, you can place your bet before the lines shift if you’re quick enough. It’s also a good idea to bet during stoppages or commercial breaks.

For a more advanced approach, consider the tempo of the game. Basketball is a game of runs, and recognizing them before they happen can be the key to success. Again, learning the teams’ rotations helps a lot here.

Learn the Schedule

In recent years, the NBA has taken significant steps to reduce the number of back-to-backs. However, the average team still plays 13.5 B2Bs in a year.

These are the games shrewd bettors can capitalize on. For example, a team that plays two nights in a row is likelier to have tired legs. In this case, betting against the spread can make sense, even if you’re facing a good team.

Some teams have stretches that don’t include many B2Bs but are still busy. For example, last season’s Spurs had stretches when they played eight games in 12 nights. So keep these scheduling opportunities in mind.

Know How Totals Work

The main factor to consider if you’re betting on totals is pace. The number of possessions tends to determine how high-scoring a game will be.

Look at the Washington Wizards last season. Though they only ranked 18th in offensive efficiency, they scored the third-most points per game (116.6). That’s because they played at the fastest pace in the league.

When playing totals, think of every matchup as a battle in pace. Will this be a slow pace team playing against a fast pace team? If so, which of these teams is more likely to impose its playstyle on the other?

Advanced statistics can also give you a few hints about the totals. For instance, how efficient were these teams lately? If both teams have been playing above expectations, how likely are they to regress?

Speaking of total-related betting tips, save your bets for the regular season. When the playoffs roll around, every game becomes a battle of wits. In these circumstances, betting on totals becomes untenable.

Study Injury Reports

It’s hard to overstate the impact injuries have on sports betting. That’s particularly true in basketball, where teams only play five players simultaneously.

In today’s era of load management, star players get rested more than ever. Sometimes, you can predict which players might sit out based on news reports. You’ll also need to wait until the injury reports come out.

Knowing the coaches’ tendencies can also help you predict potential rests. For example, some coaches, like the Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau, go all out during the season. Others, like Gregg Popovich, sit their stars out whenever possible.

Sometimes, coaches will tip their hands before the injury reports come out. That usually happens when they’re talking to beat writers. That’s why paying attention to press conferences is one of the mainstay gambling tips.

If possible, divide your NBA betting into shifts. For example, bet in the early morning, but stay tuned to injury news and bet on games impacted by them as well. The more time you can put into betting, the better you’ll do.

Avoid Teasers

A teaser is a bet where you take two or more teams and add set point totals to their lines. In the NBA, the most common teasers are four to six points.

Most of the time, NBA teasers aren’t worth it. However, they have value in the NFL, as football games have far fewer possessions. A six-point NFL teaser accounts for close to a touchdown, making it far more likely to break even.

An average NBA game, though, has about 100 possessions. In these games, teasing a six-point spread accounts for just two possessions. Any NBA team can cover that in seconds, so teasing doesn’t make sense.

Bet on Basketball Today!

Remember: Whenever you bet on basketball, you compare risk with reward. The only way to lower that risk is to be diligent about doing your research. Fortunately for you, these tips are a great starting point!

Now that you know how to bet on basketball, why not learn more about the sport itself? Keep reading our Sports section for more basketball content!

Oscar Rojas
Oscar Rojas

I'm primarily a dad and a husband, then I live. I've been a freelance writer and editor since 2014, specializing in finance, casino, sports, and esports niches. I'm an expert in checking the small print on any T&C site. You can trust me as an expert, especially when it comes to financing and gambling products.