Betting on the NBA: Full Guide & Tips (2021)

Read on for our guide to NBA betting, which will take you through the best operators, the top markets and the biggest teams and players in existence!

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When Is the next NBA season scheduled?

The next NBA season is scheduled to start in October 2021, and the 82 regular-season games played by each team will end in April 2022. Following that, the playoffs will begin later in April 2022, or at the beginning of May 2022. The NBA finals are set for May and/or June 2022.

Meanwhile, as a season delayed by the global pandemic, the current 2020/21 campaign will end in July 2021. The play-in tournament (which sees two of the teams ranked 7th-10th overall join the top six in the playoffs) will take place between 18-21 May 2021. Meanwhile, the eight-team playoffs are scheduled for 22 May-6 July 2021, with the NBA finals conducted between 8-22 July 2021.

The location of the games is determined by whoever is the higher-seeded team in the playoff bracket. Seedings are determined by regular-season performance, and in the playoffs, the higher-seeded team gets four home games and three away (vice-versa for the lower seeded team) within a seven-game series at each round.

Match Win (In-Play vs Pre-Match)Unibet NBA Market

Unless a site is running an enhanced price or promoted bet, the market for a simple win (also known as ‘1X2’ in the UK) for either team is likely to be the first one you see. In pre-match situations, the market does not shift wildly; however, micro-elements, such as injuries and other unforeseen situations, can change that.

Invariably, though, this market undergoes the most drastic shifts during in-play betting, reacting to any sort of major event – especially 3-pointers in the case of NBA. This means that timing is everything. Given the nature of in-play betting, a lot of in-play enthusiasts will wait for an upset in the making before backing the favourite.

For instance, if the Lakers are playing against the Warriors as pre-match favourites, but lose the first quarter – say, by a 24-16 scoreline – their odds will lengthen. As the betting favourites before the match, they could yet overcome that with ease, but anyone backing them after that lost first quarter would benefit from a significantly larger potential payout.

Best NBA betting site for Match Win: Unibet

Handicap Win

Handicap bets are an extremely useful way to customise your betting experience, creating bets that can either be won more easily or which can result in a bigger potential payout. To increase your potential profit in NBA handicap betting, you would back your team to win, but with a handicap for or against them.

An example of this would be “Bucks to win, handicap -9.5”, meaning that they must win by 10+ points for the bet to prevail. To increase your chances of winning, but with a reduced potential payout, you would handicap in their favour – e.g. “Pelicans to win, handicap +3.5”, which means that they must not lose by 4+ points for a payout.

Best NBA betting site for Handicap Win: bet365

Quarter / Half Winbet365 NBA Betting news

Just like the 1X2 and Handicap markets, bettors can also back one team to win (or win and overcome a handicap) in one quarter or half alone. While there is unlikely to be much difference between specific quarters or halves in NBA action, the best operators out there will endeavour to study form, and base their prices on trends within a team’s recent performances.

Operators with dedicated blog sections that cover NBA betting are often useful in identifying teams that like to start well and dominate from the start, as well as those that conserve energy until the latter stages.

Best NBA betting site for Quarter / Half Win: bet365

Over / Under Points (Total or Team)10bet NBA odds

This is another hugely popular market, and quite a simple one to negotiate, with some teams often producing high-scoring matches. Given how high-scoring basketball games are, with games commonly resulting in 200+ total points, the range of options you have in this market is huge.

For instance, you may see a watershed as low as 199.5 (Over / Under 199.5), meaning that the game must produce 200 or more points to favour those backing ‘Over’. However, in the same market you may see one as high as ‘Over / Under 249.5 total points’.

So, if the Over / Under market ranged between 199.5 and 249.5, and the increments were in fives (199.5, 204.5, 209.5 etc), you would have 11 different options in one market. The spread of options on Team total points is narrower, but it is easy to cross-reference head-to-head records, form and the average points attained by a team over a season in order to aid your selection.

Best NBA betting site for Over / Under Points: 10bet

NBA Betting Predictions

Below are the latest odds for key outright NBA betting markets, last updated on 11 March 2021.

Outright winner – Top 10

Team Odds Operator
LA Lakers 3.75 BoyleSports
Brooklyn Nets 4.00 Unibet
LA Clippers 6.00 bet365
Milwaukee Bucks 8.50 bet365
Utah Jazz 10.00 Unibet
Philadelphia 76ers 16.00 bet365
Denver Nuggets 26.00 Unibet
Phoenix Suns 31.00 Unibet
Boston Celtics 34.00 bet365
Miami Heat 34.00 BoyleSports

The LA Lakers were the NBA champions of 2019/20, beating Miami Heat 4 games to 2 in the playoff final. It was a huge effort that saw a truly great team inspire a whole new generation of NBA followers. Moreover, it was the Lakers’ first winning appearance at the NBA finals since 2010, as well as their fifth in this century alone, and their fearless brand of attacking basketball had no equals at the turn of the decade.

Conference winners – Top 10

Western Conf. Odds Operator
LA Lakers 2.50 10bet
LA Clippers 3.80 10bet
Utah Jazz 4.50 bet365
Denver Nuggets 14.00 bet365
Phoenix Suns 21.00 BoyleSports
Eastern Conf. Odds Operator
Brooklyn Nets 3.33 Unibet
Milwaukee Bucks 4.00 BoyleSports
Philadelphia 76ers 6.00 Unibet
Boston Celtics 13.00 bet365
Miami Heat 15.00 BoyleSports

The Lakers’ biggest rivals, the LA Clippers, gained a lot of favour in this market thanks to a great start to 2020/21, in the latter half of which they embarked on a run of ten wins in eleven games. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets are widely tipped to win the Eastern Conference, having enjoyed several seasons of great progress and success by their own standards.

The Nets’ acquisition of former NBA MVP James Harden at the start of 2020/21 is commonly cited as a major factor in the shortening of their odds in all of the major markets, coming a year after the equally important signing of Kevin Durant (also a former MVP) and Kyrie Irving. The trio have since become known as the ‘Brooklyn Big Three’.

MVP of the season – Top 5

MVP Odds Operator
Joel Embiid 3.05 10bet
LeBron James 3.50 Unibet
Nikola Jokic 5.50 bet365
Luka Doncic 15.00 10bet
Giannis A. 18.00 10bet

Joel Embiid was denied participation in the 2021 NBA All-Star game due to pandemic-related regulations, but that has not affected his chances of being the franchise MVP. Hailing from Cameroon, and moving to the US at the tender age of 16 in 2010, Embiid has built upon a successful personal 2019/20 season, becoming a lethal source of points for the Philadelphia 76ers.

While Embiid is slightly favoured to be the MVP for 2021/22, the lion’s share of bets in the MVP outright will go to LeBron James – the man who made the Lakers’ stunning 2019/20 campaign a possibility in the first place.

LeBron’s stardom is unsurpassed, arguably bettering even that of Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant at their respective peaks. He is the undisputed face of the current generation, and any team he joins immediately experiences an upsurge in fortunes. Reading full, comprehensive details about LeBron’s amazing career will show you why he is the number one pick to be MVP.

Rookie of the year – Top 5

MVP Odds Operator
LaMelo Ball 1.08 bet365
Tyrese Haliburton 9.50 10bet
Anthony Edwards 16.00 bet365
Emmanuel Quickley 34.00 10bet
James Wiseman 51.00 10bet

LaMelo Ball was the third overall pick at the November 2020 NBA Draft, joining the Charlotte Hornets. He debuted the following month, and though his impact was not immediate, the start of 2021 saw an excellent upturn in form. The highlight of his first three months with the Hornets were a 34-point haul along with eight assists, four rebounds, two steals, and one block in a 138–121 loss to the Utah Jazz.

Defensive player of the year – Top 5

Def Player Odds Operator
Rudy Gobert 1.50 Unibet
Ben Simmons 5.00 10bet
Myles Turner 7.00 Unibet
Joel Embiid 16.00 10bet
Giannis A. 18.00 10bet

Going into 2021, Rudy Gobert had won this award twice previously, acting as a true stalwart in the Utah Jazz defence for nearly a whole decade. The Frenchman towers at 7’1, and has a wingspan of 7’9, making him truly impenetrable on his day. He is only the 10th NBA player of all time to win the Defensive Player of the Year award more than once.

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NBA Betting Tips

Look at Parlays

Parlay betting is an excellent way to enhance your potential payout dramatically. Here, you combine several different bets into one, with each leg of the bet needing to come through for you to win.

Alternatively, you can pick a multiple within the parlay (i.e. any two selections from three), but at the cost of multiplying your wager by the amount of winning combinations. If going for a two-fold multiple within a three-leg parlay, your stake would be multiplied by four, to cover each combination of two, alongside the combination of all three coming through.

Analyse the Formbook

Teams are ranked based on their win percentage, which means that many predictions are based on probability; however, form is also a vital consideration when it comes to NBA betting. Before any match, it is always important to look at what sort of history one team has against another, if playing on the road has proven troublesome in the past, and what tactics have been responsible for creating good or bad form.

Hedge Your Bets

At a basic level, ‘hedging’ means placing a larger quantity of money on a huge favourite and a smaller one on an outsider. In the case of NBA betting, you might put ₹100 on the Lakers to win a match – as favourites – at odds of 1.57, in which case you would receive ₹57 as winnings on top of your original stake. You could then use that profit to back something a lot more speculative – say, a Pacers side that is priced at 4.00, in good form, but outsiders in a road match against a Bulls side ranked higher. Even if the second bet doesn’t come through, your losses are cut or covered.

Compare Bookmakers

Although most NBA matches will have clear and unanimous favourites, some bookmakers will see the gulf in prices between outsiders and favourites differently. Additionally, some might prioritise form over a team’s natural talents, and vice versa. All of this makes for a fascinating insight into the practices of different operators, providing you with the opportunity to look around and take up the best odds with the click of a mouse or the tap of a button.

Claim Any NBA Betting Offers

When comparing bookmakers, you can find some extremely generous and attractive promotions. While it is always advisable to read the attached terms and conditions, as well as any other obligatory small print, all of these offers are designed to enhance your betting experience. Where NBA betting is concerned, common promos might include enormous odds boosts for a favoured team (usually for new users only), and enhanced NBA parlays or insurance on selected NBA bets for new and existing users.

Top NBA Betting Operators – Reviewed

Based on all of our findings, these are the best basketball betting sites currently available.


bet365 main market

Odds correct as of 10:01, 17/03/21 G.M.T.

Established in 2000, English bookie bet365 is a giant amongst operators, with many millions using the well-maintained, slick and reliable site every day. Given where it is based, bet365 is known for being one of the best football betting sites in existence.

Promotions are updated all year round to reflect the sporting calendar, while their loyalty scheme is one of the best around. While special bets for NBA betting are generally more prominent in the conference finals and NBA finals, the range of markets for every game is impressive, with more than 15 markets and many more niche sub-markets active before the tip-off.

bet365 also provide free live streams for NBA matches, as long as users have a positive account balance or have placed a bet over the last 24 hours.


Unibet most popular NBA market

The well-known Unibet launched in 1997 and went online several years later. Since then, this bookmaker has seen millions of customers across the world flock to use its services. Amongst the more unique features is the ability to get refunded up to a certain amount if your very first bet loses.

When it comes to NBA betting, we have already established that this bookmaker has a good foothold in the key outright markets, particularly in the ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ outright list. With a clear understanding of each individual player’s strengths, Unibet also provides competitive prices for in-play markets that pertain to the most prominent players.


Boylesport NBA market

Based in Ireland, BoyleSports is a very informative and highly valued bookmaker, providing a good array of daily offers which are solely designed to enhance the overall sportsbook experience. Its NBA odds are updated by the second, and reflect all of the latest developments with superlative clarity. The process of depositing and withdrawing funds is noted for being very easy, thanks to a wide range of possible payment methods.


10bet NBA market

The widely respected 10bet is a hugely popular bookmaker in India, offering a great all-round experience. In particular, this operator demonstrates an impressive amount of generosity on insurance bets, enhanced odds and daily deals. The biggest games, naturally, often have enhanced odds or offers relating directly to them.

While some bookmakers focus solely on NBA or college basketball, 10bet is also a reliable provider of odds within leagues on the other side of the Atlantic, such as Italy’s Lega 1, France’s Pro A, Spain’s ACB League and the German Bundesliga.

NBA Tournament structure

Each NBA franchise is placed into a division within a conference based on their geographical location.

Western Conference

  • Northwest division
  • Pacific division
  • Southwest division

Eastern Conference

  • Atlantic division
  • Central division
  • Southeast division

Each conference contains five teams, each of which play 82 regular-season games. After they have all been played, each conference’s top eight proceeds to the NBA playoffs and are given a seeding number based on their performance in the regular season. There, they play conference quarter finals, semi-finals and finals. Each of these is played in a best-of-seven series, where the higher-seeded team has the advantage of four home games if the series goes all the way to the 7th game.

Specific series scores, particularly ‘4-0’ shutdowns – where a team proceeds to the next round after just four games – are also a popular outright (or ‘futures’) betting market. The two winners of the conference finals then face off in the season’s ultimate showdown: the NBA finals.

Another popular draw of NBA betting is the one-off All-Star game, where the very best of the two conferences play each other for bragging rights. It takes place every February as the showpiece finale to the ‘All-Star Weekend’. Since 2018, the teams have not been named ‘East’ and ‘West’, but after the captains of each – for instance, Team LeBron (formerly ‘West’) won in consecutive years between 2018-2021, against ‘Team Stephen’ (2018), ‘Team Giannis’ (2019, 2020) and ‘Team Durant’ (2021).

History of the NBA

The NBA’s origins stem back to 1946, when the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and National Basketball League (NBL) merged, creating the first codified professional league. In 1949, after three final seasons under the BAA brand, the first official NBA season played out, consisting of 17 teams. Albeit on a reduced scale, the same regular season / playoffs format was employed back then and has survived since.

The fledgling NBA was kept financially viable by the contraction of teams, from 17 to just eight, over the league’s first five years. That aside, the NBA’s early keys to success were typical for any flagship American sports league. They had a growing corporate interest, strengthening links with college sports and the phenomenon of team ownership, which led smaller teams to relocate to larger cities or state capitals and become the face of the NBA. In that respect, the Minneapolis Lakers, Syracuse Nationals and St Louis Hawks were pioneering teams, moving to Los Angeles, Philadelphia (now the 76ers) and Atlanta respectively.

However, the league’s ‘breakout’ team of the era was the Boston Celtics, with the team from Massachusetts’ state capital winning eight straight championships between 1959 and 1966. Their success was founded by Bill Russell, who joined the Boston Celtics as a rookie, playing alongside star guard Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach.

The 1970s were a challenging time for the NBA, with rival companies vying to become the top basketball league, but the late 1970s saw the NBA’s popularity surge. The rise in wages and the value of television rights, along with the advancement of coaching techniques – and, perhaps most importantly, a high uptake from a younger generation wanting to see fast-paced action – led to the NBA establishing itself permanently as the definitive basketball league.

During the 1980s, the NBA became more about star names than teams, with the importance of faces and how they were marketed being more crucial than ever. Taking up the role in 1984, David Stern is widely recognised as the best commissioner the NBA has ever had. That year also saw Michael Jordan drafted to the Chicago Bulls from North Carolina, and he immediately became known as the sport’s greatest and most precocious young talent ever to take to the court.

In later years, Jordan – along with Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and Scottie Pippen – would act as the core of a Chicago Bulls team that twice attained three successive NBA titles. The 2020 documentary The Last Dance chronicled this, along with Jordan’s success as the NBA’s most marketable star, with campaigns such as Gatorade’s ‘Be Like Mike’ expanding the purpose of the greatest players far beyond the court.

The new millennium would see two dynasties form, with the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and the late Kobe Bryant being dominant forces for the LA Lakers in the early 2000s. However, the San Antonio Spurs were an even match for the Lakers at every turn, memorably winning titles in 1999 and 2003 thanks to the efforts of Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Even today, there are still hopes in LA that the Lakers can emulate their former glories, but as can be seen on the list of outright odds, they will be well challenged!

NBA Past winners (2001-2020)

Def Player Team
2020 LA Lakers
2019 Toronto Raptors
2018 Golden State W's
2017 Golden State W's
2016 Cleveland Cav's
2015 Golden State W's
2014 San Antonio Spurs
2013 Miami Heat
2012 Miami Heat
2011 Dallas Mav's
2010 LA Lakers
2009 LA Lakers
2008 Boston Celtics
2007 San Antonio Spurs
2006 Miami Heat
2005 San Antonio Spurs
2004 Detroit Pistons
2003 San Antonio Spurs
2002 LA Lakers
2001 LA Lakers

Last updated on 11 March 2021

NBA Key Facts

  • In the NBA’s first 70 years of life, Wilt Chamberlain (in 1962) was the only player to score 100 in a single match.
  • In 1950, Minneapolis Lakers won the inaugural seven-game NBA finals, beating the Syracuse Nationals 4-2 over six games.
  • With 89m viewers, Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals is the record holder for TV ratings.
  • In December 1991, the Cleveland Cavaliers posted the NBA’s biggest win margin (148-80) within their first 70 years.
  • Between 1950 and 2020, only 5 teams – the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Spurs and Warriors – had won more than three championships.

NBA Betting FAQs

When is NBA scheduled?

Under normal conditions, the NBA regular season spans October to April, with the playoffs taking place later in April and/or May, and the finals in May and/or June.

What are some of the best NBA betting sites?

We have shortlisted bet365, Unibet and BoyleSports as our top three sportsbooks for NBA betting.

Are there mobile apps for NBA betting?

Yes – all bookmakers mentioned in this article have an app ready to use or in development.

What should the best NBA betting sites offer?

When choosing a bookmaker to sign up to for NBA betting, the following are key aspects to look out for:

  • A wide range of NBA markets
  • Easy depositing and withdrawing process
  • A variety of deposit options
  • Fast withdrawals
  • 24/7 Customer support
  • Industry certifications and clear regulations
  • Terms and conditions pages easily visible

There should also be a high-quality facility for live streaming NBA games.

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CricketBettingAdvice Final Say

The popularity of NBA betting has soared over the past several years, with the late 2010s seeing a sharp increase in the number of US states legalising sports gambling. The progression towards full legalisation over in the US is still underway, but it is having a telling – and positive – effect on the opportunities provided by wagering on NBA, along with other American sports.

In India, meanwhile, the NBA’s following is ever-growing, with the sport itself becoming more diverse and the availability of coverage, memorabilia and apparel at an all-time high. Naturally, this has led to an increase in traffic towards NBA betting sections on sports betting India sites that are highly popular in the current online age.

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