NBA Sharp Betting Picks
If you’re new to sports betting, or specifically NBA betting, our standard odds tables may be a bit overwhelming. This NBA betting guide will give you the foundational information that you need to understand basic betting terminology, interpret game odds, and utilize moneylines to help you make educated NBA picks each week. We will use the odds table between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers as an example throughout this guide.
Types of NBA Bets
Understanding the various types of NBA bets, and how they payout, is a must before placing a wager with any confidence. The most common betting types that you will encounter with NBA are:
- Against the Spread
- Over/Under Totals
NBA moneyline bets simply require a bettor to select the winner of a particular contest. Almost every single game will have a favorite team and an underdog team. The favorite is the team that is expected to win the contest, and conversely, the underdog is the team that is expected to lose. You can tell which team is the favorite in an odds table as they will be designated with a minus sign (-) while the underdog will be given a plus sign (+). Here's how the moneyline bet looks for our selected NBA matchup:
You can tell that Philly is the favored team in this game because they have a -303 designation moneyline. Cleveland is the underdog with the +240 moneyline. The specific numbers next to the plus or minus signs indicate the associated payout amount for betting on each team.
In the Philadelphia-Cleveland matchup, a $100 bet on Cleveland at +240 odds would result in a $240 profit if they won the game. This would give you a total payout of $340 with your original $100 wager included. By contrast, Philly's moneyline of -303 means that a bettor would win $100 for every $303 invested. Bettors must risk more money to profit when placing a wager on a favorite as compared to an underdog.
NBA Point Spreads
The point spread may also be referred to as a margin of victory bet, bets against the spread, or simply, the spread. In this type of wager, the bettor has correctly pick which team will win or lose by a specific amount of points. To cover a spread, the selected team must beat the point spread that was assigned by oddsmakers for a particular contest. Similar to a moneyline bet, a minus sign (-) is assigned to the favorite team. The number next to this minus sign is how many points the favored team has to win by in order to cover the bet. A bet on the underdog will, if the team wins the game outright or loses by less than allotted point spread. Here's the spread for Philadelphia vs. Cleveland:
Aside from the spread number, bettors also need to be aware of the juice, or the vig, which is the “tax” that betters pay to a sportsbook to place their wager. Typically, you'll see this number directly below the spread in a smaller font. In this game, each team has their own juice number, meaning that the tax you pay to the sportsbook will be different depending on the team you wager on. The juice is -118 for Cleveland and -100 for Philly.
The vig for the spread works the same as a moneyline when calculating a bet's potential payout. Betting on Cleveland would net someone $100 for every $118 invested if they covered the spread whereas a bettor would earn $100 for every $100 invested on Philadelphia if they covered the spread.
What happens, you may wonder, if Philadelphia wins the game by exactly 7 points? This scenario is what is known as a “push”. A push means that no team covered the spread and you will get the money back that you placed on the wager. In some instances, oddsmakers will set an even spread, which means that they see each team as likely to win the contest as the other. This is commonly referred to as a “pick ‘em” matchup.
Over/Unders, or totals, are another typical NBA bet. Betting over/under means deciding if both teams will combine to score more or less than a specific point total assigned by oddsmakers for the contest. The winner or loser of the game is irrelevant in this wager. The bettor is only concerned with the combined point total regardless of the outcome.
Oddsmakers have set a total of o216 points for this Philadelphia vs. Cleveland game. To win on an "Over" bet, the two teams must combine to score 217 points or more. To win on an "Under" bet, the two teams must combine to score 215 points or less. Like spreads, Over/Unders can push, like here at exactly 216 points.
Over/Under bets also have juice, which is also indicated underneath the the over/under totals in the table. For Philadelphia vs. Cleveland, bettors will have to invest $109 for every $100 worth of profit when betting the over and bet $112 for every $100 worth of profit when betting the under.
How to Use the Action Network's NBA Odds Page
You will likely notice that moneylines, point spreads, and over/under totals vary from one sportsbook to the next for the same NBA game. Seasoned bettors know that it pays to "shop for lines" before making a wager. All this means is that it is best practice to look at each sportsbook's line for a game that you are interested in betting on to ensure that you are putting your money in the place that offers the highest potential payout. To make this work easier for you, The Action Network has compiled odds from each sportsbook for all of the NBA games in a given day.
Here are a few notes on how to get the most out of the NBA Odds page.
- You’ll never have to guess which sportsbook has the best odds for a given game. The Action Network pulls in up-to-the-minute odds from every U.S. sportsbook and denotes the most favorable odds in "Best Odds" column for every bet type. This not only saves you time, but helps ensure that you're always putting yourself in the best position to earn more per wager.
- Filter games by specific bet types (moneyline, spread, over/unders) or show all three at once. Whether you want to see a holistic view of the day's action or drill into a specific betting market, our odds page is customizable to meet your preference.
- Action Network subscribers can further customize the page by only displaying the sportsbooks that you have an account with. This helps simplify the page and streamline your betting process.
- Sportsbooks offer odds on specific timeframes within a game in addition to just the final outcome. For the NBA, this often includes specific odds for each quarter or half. Our NBA Odds page allows you to filter between the various game timeframes to bet a contest in a variety of different ways as it plays out in real-time.
- Sports betting is not currently legal in every state. As such, The Action Network NBA Odds page will allow you to see the sportsbook odds and prices available to you depending on where you are in the United States.
Other Ways to Bet on the NBA
There are other options available for those looking for more ways to get into NBA betting including:
- Player Props
- Daily Fantasy
A parlay is combining two or more wagers into a single betting ticket with the goal of increasing the potential payout. A bettor must win every wager on the ticket in order to win the parlay. While this makes the chances of winning more difficult, parlay bets increase your potential earnings. The more bets added to a parlay, the higher the payout potential.
Bettors can create a parlay by grouping any type of bets together, like a moneyline and an over/under total. Let's create a 76ers moneyline and over 216 parlay using our sample matchup.
Here’s how the two bets payout separately with a $100 budget:
- 76ers moneyline (-303) at $50
- The potential winnings are $16.50 for a total payout of $66.50 including the original $50 risked.
- Over 216 (-112) at $50
- The potential winnings are $44.64 for a total payout of $94.64 including the original $50 risked.
- A bettor has the potential to win $61.14 in payouts for a total of $161.14 including the original $100 risked across the two separate bets.
Here’s how the same bets would payout as a parlay:
- 76ers moneyline (-303) AND Over 216 (-112) at $100
- The potential winnings are $151.76 for a total payout of $251.76 including the original $100 risked.
The payout potential is significantly higher for the parlay bet as compared to the two separate bets despite the total money being risked being across identical bets. Because both bets have to cover in order to win, oddsmakers will give you better payout odds as you add more wagers to your parlay.
Need help calculating your parlay payouts? Don’t forget to take advantage of The Action Network’s Betting Odds Calculator.
Futures bets are exactly what they sound like: betting on an event where the outcome will be settled in the future (not within the same day or week). Futures bets exclusively deal with moneylines. Examples of futures betting for in the NBA includes placing a wager on a team to win their conference or win the NBA Finals.
Futures bets payout very well because they are incredibly difficult to get right. Typically, a futures bet is placed at the beginning of the NBA season and requires a bettor to accurately predict an outcome that is months into the future. The best odds are available earlier in the NBA season, but bettors are able to make futures bets throughout the course of the season as well. The odds are updated regularly to reflect a given team's performance throughout the course of the year, so the odds may not be as favorable later on.
Be sure to check out The Action Network’s NBA Futures page to check out the odds for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.
NBA Prop Bets
Want to bet on particular NBA players rather than just the teams? This is where prop bets come into play. Oddsmakers will also set over/under totals for player stats in a given contest. A prop bet enables bettors to wager on whether or not a player will score a certain amount of points, get a certain amount of rebounds, etc.
Need help evaluating prop bet wagers? The Action Labs Prop Tool will help you organize, sort, and grade hundreds of prop bet odds throughout the NBA season. Be sure to check in daily to keep up with the NBA action throughout the season.
NBA Daily Fantasy
Sports betting is not currently legal in every state. Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) have filled the void in those places where it is not legal as a sports betting alternative.
The traditional fantasy options require users to draft a team and set a lineup each day to compete against other players. This model of daily fantasy was made popular by the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel. Newer DFS games like PrizePicks are gaining traction amongst fans, though, where bettors place wagers on player props rather than having to compete against other users.
Get a competitive edge using Action’s FantasyLabs to breakdown player stats and matchups to set a winning lineup each week.
NBA Betting Help
After reading this NBA betting guide, you should be able to read and understand an odds table. Being able to read an odds table, however, does not necessarily guarantee betting success. Here are a few tools from The Action Network that can help improve your betting win rate in the NBA.
NBA Public Betting Percentages
The Action Network collects a vast amount of betting data on NBA games, including the number of bets and how much money is placed on them. We condense this information into an easy-to-read interactive chart that helps you to assess what bets are most popular amongst the public and where the majority of the money is being wagered. Whether you choose to go along with how the majority has placed its bets, or you choose to break from the pack, is up to you.
The Action Network NBA Public Betting page enables you to filter between bet types as well so you can see the public sentiment across moneyline, spread, and totals.
Our in-house NBA experts evaluate daily matchups based on a multitude of factors including recent team performance, player value, injuries, and more. Condensing all these factors, The Action Network grades each matchup and provides an edge percentage to let you know which bets are most likely to succeed. Subscribe to Action PRO to get unlimited access to our NBA projections.
If you want to make betting decisions for yourself, but don’t have the time to collect all the data, check out our NBA PRO Report. This analysis highlights five key bettings signals: big money, sharp action, expert projections, expert picks, and historical betting systems.
NBA Expert Picks
If you’re in a time crunch or just want to leave it to the experts, our NBA Picks page is the place to go. Here, you can see how experts are picking a particular contest across various bet types and odds. Check this page regularly during the season to see how you stack up against the experts.