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Among experienced and amateur sports bettors alike, betting the NBA is often thought of as a losing proposition with player’s efforts constantly in question and “load management” now becoming a regular occurrence across the league. While there’s certainly some merit to that line of thinking, those who follow the league closely and know not just teams, but individual players and coaches’ strengths and weaknesses, can identify edges to cash in on a regular basis.
With the NBA season now at just about its halfway point, the team’s identities are starting to form and patterns are starting to emerge across the league. As far as wagering goes, game lines (spread bets) and totals (over/under) are straight forward across each major sport and no different in the NBA than they are football or baseball. In today’s piece, let’s examine some of the most popular ways to wager on the NBA that beginner sports bettors might not be aware of and can start adding to their arsenal of betting options.
Top 5 Types of NBA Bets
Unlike the college game, which is split into two halves, the NBA offers two avenues to get down on a side or total before the second half even tips off. While there are first half bets in nearly every major sport, they are often just exactly half the number of the full game spread that oddsmakers initially set and the NBA is no different. NBA quarter bets, however, offer an opportunity for bettors who think they’ve identified an edge in a team’s early or late game motivation or planned tempo.
Things to think about: Looking at the first-quarter specifically, oftentimes if a team is coming off multiple days of rest, they may start out slow, giving the opponent, or more importantly the under, a potential edge. Another time to look at first quarter wagers is when a player, or multiple players, are inserted into a starting lineup that are new additions to the team. A time to look at this specifically is just after the trade deadline when starting players are thrust into their new team’s lineups and lack any kind of chemistry with their new teammates.
NBA Team Totals
Just like most other major sports, the NBA betting menu offers team totals on every game. A team total is simply how many points that team will score in the game, completely regardless of how many their opponent scores.
Things to think about: When thinking about team totals, it’s a good idea to look at the team’s splits (stats) when playing their opponent in the past, or a team with a similar make up. For example, if you are looking to bet a team total against a team with a high-quality center, look at their recent scores against teams with high-quality centers.
Team to Get 20 Points First
This is a fairly unique betting option and is only really available when betting the NBA. This kind of bet is as straight forward as it sounds; you’re just wagering on who will be the first team to make it to the 20-point mark.
Things to think about: When betting the first team to get to the 20-point mark, you’ll want to think about the same kind of things you did for the first quarter wagering. It could also be a good idea to look at each team’s players’ splits against that opponent.
Team to Score First
While the team to score first is common in many of the major sports, few end as quickly and concisely as the NBA. This bet is also just as it sounds; you are just betting on the first team to put the ball through the basket.
Things to think about: In a sport like a basketball, the team to win the opening tip-off possesses a huge advantage on scoring first as they are simply given the first opportunity. If I were playing this kind of bet, I’d look at each team’s first tip win rate and likely side with the team that wins it more often.
Though there are player props in nearly every major sport, the NBA usually offers the broadest menu of options including players’ points, assists, rebounds, points + assists + rebounds, and more. Whichever prop you select, you are simply wagering whether a player will tally over or under the wagering number on the final stat sheet.
Things to think about: One of the first places I always go when betting player props is to look at each player’s splits against a given opponent. More specifically looking at the away team players, I also look at their splits on the road against that opponent to see if they favor (or the opposite) playing in that arena.