Best Guide for NBA Odds: 2024

Do you find NBA betting odds hard to understand? In this guide, we will explain in detail the inter-workings of NBA betting odds to get you on top of your betting game. The better you understand the odds, the easier it is to find advantages in the betting market.

This article aims to pull back the curtain of the creation of NBA odds and what indicators are most important to monitor as an NBA bettor. To start, we’ll be defining what NBA odds are, and how they work.

Key Takeaways 

  • Understand the different types of NBA odds.
  • Breakdown how NBA odds are created.
  • Learn how to find advantages in your NBA betting experience.

What are NBA Odds?

NBA odds are the likelihood of specific events to occur in any NBA game. Every bet you can make on the NBA has odds attached to it, which are used to create the payouts and winnings for NBA betting.

Odds are set by bookmakers and are extremely fluid until the first tip of any NBA game. No bet you make will be without odds, and they are key to the sports betting industry. 

Different Types of NBA Odds

Let’s see in details the different types of odds for basketball betting:

Moneyline Odds

Directly related to moneyline, this format shows the odds of a team winning the game outright. Positive odds indicate how much profit you would make on a $100 bet, while negative odds show how much you need to bet to win $100.

Example:

  • If the Lakers have +150 odds, a $100 bet would win $150.
  • If they have -200 odds, you need to bet $200 to win $100.

→ Negative odds for money line means that team if favored to win the game as plus odds means the team is an underdog.

Point Spread Odds

Point spreads are betting on the margin of victory. The favored team must win by more than the specified points, while the underdog can lose by fewer points than the spread or win outright.

Example:

  • If the Lakers are -5.5 favorites, they must win by 6 or more points for a bet on them to win.
  • If they are +5.5 underdogs, they can lose by up to 5 points, or win outright, for a bet on them to win.

Over/Under (Totals) Odds

Totals are betting on the total combined points scored by both teams in a game. You can bet on whether the actual total will be over or under the bookmaker’s set number.

Example: If the over/under is set at 210.5, you can bet on whether the total points scored will be more or less than 210.5.

→ There are other types of over/under bets such as player props, first half/second half, and more. 

How to Read NBA Odds

When betting on NBA games, odds can be presented in three main formats: American, Decimal, and Fractional. Understanding how to interpret these formats is crucial for making informed betting decisions. 

In the following examples, I’ll be using the two NBA teams: the Lakers and the Celtics.

American Odds

American odds are typically used in the United States and are expressed as either positive or negative numbers.

  • Positive Odds (+): Indicate how much profit you would make on a $100 bet.
    Example: +150 means you would win $150 on a $100 bet.
  • Negative Odds (-): Indicate how much you need to bet to win $100.
    Example: -200 means you need to bet $200 to win $100.
TeamAmerican OddsBet AmountPayout (Includes Bet)
Lakers+150$100$250
Celtics-200$200$300

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are commonly used in Europe and Australia. They represent the total payout (including the original bet) per unit.

The formula for calculating total payout: Total Payout = Bet Amount × Decimal Odds

TeamDecimal OddsBet AmountPayout (Includes Bet)
Lakers2.50$100$250
Celtics1.50$100$150

For decimal odds, the higher the odds, the higher the payout. Like American odds, the higher the odds are of any event means it is not as likely to happen as other events. 

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are traditionally used in the UK. They are presented as a fraction, showing the profit relative to the bet.

  • Formula: Profit = (Bet × Fraction)
    • 5/2 means you win $5 for every $2 bet.
    • 1/2 means you win $1 for every $2 bet.
TeamFractional OddsBet AmountPayout (Includes Bet)
Lakers5/2$100$350
Celtics1/2$100$150

→ Here’s a conversion table showing how the different formats relate to each other:

NBA TeamAmericanDecimalFractional
Lakers +1502.503/2
Celtics-2001.501/2

NBA Finals Odds

NBA Finals odds are determined through a combination of statistical analysis, expert insights, and market factors. 

  1. Team Performance: The current season’s performance, including win-loss records, point differentials, and player statistics, heavily influence the odds.
  2. Injuries: Injuries to key players can significantly alter a team’s odds. An injury to a star player can cause the odds to lengthen (become less favorable).
  3. Historical Performance: A team’s historical success in the playoffs and Finals can impact the odds. Teams with a legacy of winning may have shorter odds.
  4. Betting Market: The amount of money being wagered on each team influences the odds. Sportsbooks adjust the odds to balance the betting action and minimize potential losses.
  5. Schedule and Matchups: The specific matchups in the Finals, home-court advantage, and rest days between games can affect the odds.

Here are some interesting historical betting trends prior to the 2024 NBA finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks:

  • No. 1 seeds are 29-18 straight up and 25-22 against the spread in the finals over the last 10 seasons.
  • The Under totals points is 105-74-4 since 1991, which includes a 4-1 record in the 2023 NBA finals.
  • The home team is 31-26 straight up and27-29-1 against the spread since 2013.

NBA Playoff Odds

NBA playoff odds are crucial as they reflect the likelihood of each team’s success in the postseason. These odds are much tighter because of the differences in regular season and playoffs NBA games.

Differences Between Playoff and Regular-Season Odds:

  1. Intensity:
    • Regular Season: Teams may rest key players, experiment with lineups, and have less urgency in every game.
    • Playoffs: Every game is critical, with teams playing their best lineups and strategies. 
  2. Team Matchups:
    • Regular Season: Teams play against various opponents with varying styles and strengths.
    • Playoffs: Teams face the same opponent in a series, allowing for adjustments and strategic depth. Matchup-specific strengths and weaknesses become more significant.
  3. Betting Markets:
    • Regular Season: Bettors can place wagers on a wide range of games daily, leading to varied odds based on daily fluctuations.
    • Playoffs: The number of games is limited, and betting markets focus intensively on fewer games, often resulting in sharper lines and more detailed analysis by sportsbooks.

The scoring in NBA regular season games and NBA playoff games are significantly different, affecting over/under totals. The following is a table of total scoring from NBA games from 2008-2022:

YearOverall GamesRegularPlayoffsDiffDiff %
20081316198.57188.639.9495.0%
20091315198.50191.107.3996.3%
20101312199.98195.104.8897.6%
20111311197.73186.2511.4894.2%
20121074191.44184.926.5296.6%
20131314195.04188.037.0196.4%
20141319200.74197.363.3898.3%
20151311198.71199.66(0.95)100.5%
20161316204.16199.354.8197.6%
20171309210.11211.47(1.36)100.6%
20181312211.57208.293.2898.5%
20191312220.72213.766.9696.8%
2020971221.76N/AN/AN/A
20211171223.01220.232.7898.8%
20221323220.14212.097.4596.6%
TotalN/A206.86201.665.2097.5%
Source: dratings.com

NBA Live Odds

NBA live odds are bets you can make during an NBA game, therefore the “live” category they are in. Live odds are based strictly on the results of the game and not necessarily on how one expected the game to go prior.

They provide a flexible and engaging way to bet on the NBA, with numerous opportunities to make bets in real-time. Live odds are complex because they change so much, and the timing needs to be nailed down for a successful live bet. 

Some key indicators to look for with live bets are:

  • Momentum of the game
  • Player-to-player performances
  • Time remaining in the game, half, or quarter depending on the bet you are targeting

NBA Draft Odds

For the more entrenched NBA bettors, the NBA draft offers a unique opportunity to make bets on players that are not even in the league yet. Draft bets include who will be the first:

  • Overall pick
  • Draft position
  • Over/under draft position
  • What team will draft a player, and more

NBA draft odds are interpreted the same as other NBA betting odds. Some odds will be favored (such as -200) but most odds will be at plus money (+200).

This is because of the unpredictability within the NBA draft, and betting on it takes a ton of knowledge and understanding of teams needs, player reports, teams’ history of drafting, etc.

Utilizing NBA mock drafts and expert reports will give you an idea of where players will be drafted and what teams are looking for in the draft. Many reports give in-depth information on what players are doing workouts with what teams, which gauges interest and report on how teams plan to attack the draft. 

Factors that Influence NBA Odds

There are numerous factors that go into NBA odds, and grasping how the odds are created is important to betting success. 

  • Data Collection: Both historical and in-season data are compiled for sportsbooks to create opening lines, the odds, before people begin to bet on them. This data can include:
    • Team records and statistics
    • Player statistics
    • Player injuries
    • Head-to-head matchups
  • Mathematical Models: Predictive models are used for regression analysis and create ratings for teams’ performances. Regression analysis uses past statistics to predict future outcomes. The word regression comes when a model predicts a player or team is overachieving, and their performances will regress, or go back, to the average performances they have displayed over time.
  • Expert Knowledge: At the end of the day, sportsbooks are some of the most knowledgeable entities for sports betting because otherwise they would go out of business. Understanding team dynamics and game context (rest, travel, motivation) helps sportsbooks create competitive odds.
  • Market Influences: Public betting patterns and sharp betting (professional bettors) can change the odds leading up to a game.
    Example: If the public is betting heavily on a team’s money line, those odds may move from -200 to -220. Sharp action may move a point spread from -5.5 to -5 even when the public is betting for the favored team. 

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to take advantage of the NBA betting bonuses offered by your sportsbook, it can have a positive impact on the odds and on your winnings.

Using NBA Odds to Your Advantage

When betting on NBA games, using odds effectively can significantly improve your chances of making informed and profitable decisions.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Line Shopping
  2. Understanding Implied Probability

Line Shopping

Line shopping involves comparing the odds offered by different sportsbooks to find the most favorable line for your bet. Different sportsbooks may have slight variations in their odds, and taking the time to shop around can lead to better returns. 

Monitoring line movement can show the changes based on factors like player injuries, betting volume, and public opinion. Keeping an eye on these movements can help you decide the best time to place your bet.

Understanding Implied Probability

Implied probability converts betting odds into a percentage chance of a particular outcome happening. This helps you determine whether a bet offers value.

For fractional odds:

  • Implied Probability = Denominator / Denominator + Numerator × 100

For moneyline odds:

  • Positive moneyline odds: Implied Probability = 100 / Moneyline Odds+100 × 100
  • Negative moneyline odds: Implied Probability = Moneyline Odds / Moneyline Odds +100 × 100

Evaluate Value: Compare the implied probability to your estimation of the probability. If the implied probability is lower than your estimation, the bet might offer value.

Example: If the implied probability of a team winning is 40%, but you believe they have a 50% chance, that bet offers good value.

Top Sportsbooks for NBA Odds

Let’s examine five of the best sportsbooks for NBA odds and the features, welcome deals and usability they each offer. Our pick has been selected from the best NBA betting site apps.

ESPN BET

  • Welcome Offer: Exclusive sign-up bonus: Get up to $500 in free bets!
  • Minimum Deposit: $10
  • Maximum Withdrawal: $10,000 per transaction

ESPN BET Sportsbook offers top-tier NBA odds, giving you the best value for your bets. Their odds are updated in real-time, reflecting the latest game dynamics and expert insights. This, combined with an intuitive interface, makes it a premier choice for NBA betting.

Their online website includes a bet slip to show what picks you’ve made, which gives the user a clear idea of their bet or bets.

BetRivers

  • Welcome Offer: 100% match bonus up to $250 on your first deposit.
  • Minimum Deposit: $10
  • Maximum Withdrawal: $10,000 per transaction

BetRivers Sportsbook offers competitive and frequently updated NBA odds, ensuring bettors get the best possible value. Their robust platform provides comprehensive stats and insights, making it easier to make informed betting decisions. The combination of excellent odds and user-friendly features makes BetRivers a top choice for NBA betting.

BetRivers has numerous ways to make a deposit, offering tons of options for users to begin the betting journey with BetRivers. Their rewards and bonuses are some of the best, incentivizing users to make their NBA bets with BetRivers. 

Bet365

  • Welcome Offer: Bet $1, get $200 in free bets.
  • Minimum Deposit: $10
  • Maximum Withdrawal: $30,000 per transaction

Bet365 Sportsbook stands out for its highly competitive and regularly updated NBA odds, ensuring bettors receive optimal value for their wagers. The platform’s extensive market coverage and innovative features like live betting enhance the overall betting experience, making it a top choice for NBA enthusiasts.

Their BetBoost deals give boosted odds for parlays and give out bonus bets for new users. These make betting much more entertaining for users, and possibly more profitable.

Betway

  • Welcome Offer: Up to $250 in risk-free bets.
  • Minimum Deposit: $10
  • Maximum Withdrawal: $50,000 per transaction

Betway Sportsbook excels with its competitive NBA odds, offering bettors excellent value. The platform provides detailed analytics and live updates, making it easier to make informed decisions. With a user-friendly interface and extensive market coverage, Betway is a top choice for NBA bettors.

Borgata

  • Welcome Offer: Risk-free first bet up to $1,000.
  • Minimum Deposit: $10
  • Maximum Withdrawal: $25,000 per transaction

Borgata Sportsbook offers some of the most competitive NBA odds in the industry, ensuring bettors get great value. Their platform provides real-time updates and comprehensive statistics, helping users make informed betting decisions. The combination of excellent odds and a user-friendly interface makes Borgata a top choice for NBA betting.

So, Will you Check NBA Odds Tonight?

Understanding NBA odds will give you a betting edge each night. Knowing the types of odds and how they are created gives you a chance to exploit any loopholes in oddsmakers.

Getting the best NBA odds before they change when an injury report comes out is just one of many ways to beat the bookies.

Are you interested in learning more about NBA betting picks? Check out our dedicated guide.