How To Read Odds For Your Favorite NBA Teams

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports

How To Read Odds For Your Favorite NBA Teams


What a sport the NBA is! As the current 2021/22 season shows, it really does deliver for fans every year. From awesome on-court dribbling to huge 3-pointers and off-court drama, the top competition in world basketball always gives us plenty to discuss. It also keeps supporters glued to games, as they follow their favorite team’s progress through the season. 

The current year is in full-swing, and we are fast approaching the point where the regular season will end in April 2022. Following this, there will be the Play-In tournament, the playoffs and the NBA Finals to catch. All this means there are plenty of games left to not only enjoy watching but also to bet on. With sports betting becoming legal in many US states now, more NBA fans are starting to add extra fun to games by betting on them.

If you are interested in trying betting out, it is crucial to know what you are doing. The best place to start is by getting the lowdown on NBA betting and learning how odds work.


What are odds in NBA betting?

In simple terms, odds show how likely a bet is to succeed and also how much money it pays out should you win. You always want to know the reward you are getting for risking money on a bet. Knowing the probability of a bet winning can help you decide if it is worth taking on the risk. If you need a quick recap on what probability is all about, then this is worth doing before going any further.

When you use a sportsbook or app online for NBA wagering, the odds are normally listed across two rows – one for the home side and one for the away team. You will also see columns listed for the type of bets which are available to make. Each column will show numbers with either a plus or minus sign next to them. The minus sign means those are the odds for the favorite, while the plus sign means those are the odds for the underdog.


Moneyline NBA odds

Moneyline odds are pretty simple to grasp and a good bet for newbies to focus on. You just pick which side you think will win the game and take home your profits if you are right. As you would expect, the underdog side will have longer odds which payout more, while the opposite is true for the favorites. Moneyline odds normally look like this for NBA betting: 

Houston Rockets -100

Detroit Pistons +200

In this example, the + value odds for the Pistons show how much you could win on a $100 bet for them. On the other hand, the -100 for the Rockets shows how much you need to bet to win $100. It is worth noting that you do not have to bet in $100 increments – this is just the basic formula to work out potential returns. 


Other types of NBA odds to learn

Next to moneyline, points spread odds are worth knowing about for NBA bettors. They usually look something like:

Brooklyn Nets -5.5

Miami Heat +5.5

These odds basically show the margin by which the sportsbooks believe the favorite side (the one with the – symbol by it) will win by. In our example, if the Nets win by six points or more, then a bet on them would payout. If you bet on the underdog (the Heat), then the bet pays out if they win or if they lose by less than 6 points.

While moneyline and points spread odds are the major two to learn, there are some other more exotic odds to know about too. Over/Under on the points scored in a game is a fun market to get involved with for example. 

Odds for this market are a single number (107.5 for example) and have you predicting if the total number of points in a game will be over or under this set line. Prop betting is also worth understanding too. This refers to bets which have you predicting certain things will happen in a game, often related to individual players. Odds for these bets will look like moneyline odds, with a number with a + or – next to it, and work in the same way to show you how much you get back if your prop bet wins.


NBA odds and bets

The NBA is a top sport with a truly global following. When you have events like the LeBron James Superbowl commercial going viral, you know that it has reached a peak level. Betting on this sport has also brought more people into it and you can see the appeal when you learn more about it. To get the most from this though, you need to know more about how odds work first.

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