Types of Basketball/NBA bets

Betting on basketball or the NBA can offer non-stop entertainment throughout the season, as there are so many basketball matches that take place. Equally, there are a number of different bet types to consider when placing a wager on NBA or NCAA action.

The main bet types for basketball are similar to those that are most popular in American football/NFL betting, so there is a big focus on point spreads, money lines, totals and more.

Point spreads

A very common method of wagering in basketball is to look at point spreads. Point spreads act as a way of evening out an unbalanced match-up, where one team may be significantly better than another.

Just like in NFL betting, to win a point spread bet, you can either wager on the favourite to win by more than the spread, or the underdog to win or to lose by fewer points than the spread.  Also like in American football, the odds can generally be found at -110, with a standard point spread line  being Team A – 5.5 vs Team B +5.5.

Example: Utah Jazz are @ the San Antonio Spurs and 888Sport is offering -110 on Jazz +9 and -110 on the Spurs -9.

If the Spurs win by 5 points, a points spread bet on them loses, while a points spread bet on Utah Jazz wins. At odds of -110, a $10 would win you $19.09, consisting of $9.09 winnings plus your original stake back.

Money lines

Taking the spread out of the equation, with a money line you either bet on the home team to win or the away team to win: the winning margin does not matter.

Usually, the difference between the two teams that would otherwise be covered by the spread is instead reflected in the odds, with Team A -150 and Team B +130 to win, instead of odds of -110 on both outcomes.

Example: Orlando Magic are @ the Philadelphia 76ers and BetMGM is offering +165 for Magic to win on the money line and -200 for the 76ers to win. In the result of the 76ers beating Orlando Magic, a $10 bet would earn you a $15 payout – so winnings of $5.


Over/under betting is another market popular in both the NFL and NBA, taking both the spread and the money line out of the equation, instead combining the score of both teams. Here, sportsbooks will set a line and, if you bet over, your wager wins if both teams score a combined total of points greater than the line. The reverse applies if you bet under.

The totals themselves will be much higher in basketball than in American football, though, with totals commonly being set between 190 and 210 points. Overtime is included in the total, so games with overtime typically go over.

Example: The Sacramento Kings are @ The Brooklyn Nets and both are considered relatively high-scoring, offensive teams. Caesars Sports therefore sets the over/under line at 232.5, with odds on over and under of -110. If the Kings win 130-110, 240 total points have been scored, meaning an over bet would win.

Prop Bets

Prop (proposition) bets allow you to wager on team and player statistics, and events that are smaller in nature than the overall result. In basketball, you can wager on both team props and player props.

Common examples are betting over/under on how many rebounds a player will have in a match, points totals for individual players or which team will be the first to score 10 points.

Example: For the Utah Jazz @ San Antonio Spurs game, DraftKings is offering a player prop bet with odds of +500 on DeMar DeRozan to score the first field goal.

In its game props section, DraftKings offers odds of +123 that Utah Jazz will be the first team to score 10 points, with odds of -167 that the Spurs will first reach the 10-point mark.


As opposed to single wagers, parlays involve several picks for one bet. Parlay betting offers you higher reward for higher risk. This is because the odds will always be higher if you bet a five-way parlay than if you picked those same five selections as singles. But, unlike if you were betting them all as singles, if one of them loses – your whole bet loses.

In NBA betting, the high volume of matches lends itself to parlays, with 5-7 matches a night not being uncommon. Not just this but the action is daily, so a parlay that covers a week of NBA action could have as many as 30 selections, for instance.

Example:  On Borgata Sports, a three-way parlay gives you +500 odds. The picks are Boston Celtics on the money line, Philadelphia 76ers on the money line and over 236.5 totals betting on Washington Wizards @ New Orleans.

Staking $10 on this parlay wins you a payout of $60, which is equal to winnings of $50.

Futures betting

With so many fixtures in both the NBA and college basketball, every basketball match is ultimately one step towards determining the overall championship winners. So futures betting allows you to wager on who will win the NBA outright, for example, or who will be the tournament’s leading scorer or MVP.

Example: In August, PointsBet was offering odds of +250 for the LA Lakers to win the NBA, with the Milwaukee Bucks second-favourites at +280. The LA Clippers were +325, with the next favourite having longer odds at +1200.

Quarter betting

With basketball matches having four quarters rather than two halves, there can be greater variance on which team comes out on top in each period. So with quarter betting, you can wager on which team will win each quarter and you can also wager on outcomes like which quarter will be the highest-scoring.

Example: With the Washington Wizards @ The New Orleans Pelicans, PointsBet is offering +165 for the Wizards to win the first quarter and -110 on the Wizards +2.5 in the first-quarter point spread.