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NBA betting spreads explained for new players

NBA spread betting is not just about predicting winners and losers; it’s a strategic approach that adds layers of excitement and complexity to basketball wagering. In the fast-paced world of NBA betting, spread betting stands out as one of the most popular and engaging forms of placing bets. Whether you’re backing a favorite to win convincingly or betting on an underdog to cover the spread, each wager carries its own set of calculations and risks. Understanding NBA spread betting involves grasping not just the game’s dynamics but also the nuances of odds, team performance, and the factors that can influence a game’s outcome. In this article, will explain nba betting spreads in detail.

NBA betting spreads explained for new players
NBA betting spreads explained for new players

What is NBA Point Spread Betting?

Point spread betting in the NBA is an exciting way to wager on NBA teams. Whether you believe the favorite team will win by a large margin or you predict the underdog will surprise everyone by keeping the game close with the potential to cover a significant spread, you can almost always expect a thrilling game with many ups and downs.

In every NBA game, there is a favorite team (the team predicted to win) and an underdog (the weaker team). If you bet on the favorite, you are wagering that they will win the game by a certain margin. Conversely, if you bet on the underdog, you are betting that the underdog will lose by fewer points than the given spread or win the game outright. If the underdog wins the game, the bet also pays out.

For example, suppose the Los Angeles Lakers are favored over the Celtics by -3. This means the Celtics are the underdog at +3.

If you bet on the Lakers to win by the spread, you need the Lakers to win the game by more than 3 points. Conversely, if you bet on the Celtics by the spread, you need the Celtics to lose by 1 or 2 points or win the game outright. In this example, if the Lakers win by exactly 3 points or the Celtics lose by exactly 3 points, it is considered a push, and the bet is refunded.

Explanation of NBA Point Spread Betting

Essentially, you are predicting that the favorite team will win by the margin set by the bookmaker or that the underdog will not lose by that same margin. The margin, also known as the ‘spread’, is the number of points one team must surpass to win the bet.

As mentioned earlier, point spread betting in the NBA is the most popular type of wager among NBA bettors. One of the reasons why point spread betting is also the most enticing form of NBA betting is because of the odds. Most sportsbooks will set the odds for each side at around -110. This provides nearly equal and not overly favorable odds for both the favorite and the underdog. Long-term profit is ensured by betting on the standard odds close to -110.

Point spread betting is best suited for skilled bettors who have deep knowledge of the two teams competing. A proficient gambler will consider injuries, travel conditions, revenge narratives, and other factors on both sides before placing a point spread bet.

How to Bet on NBA Point Spreads

Bettors can expect a convenient and straightforward process when placing NBA point spread bets. As this is the most sought-after type of wager in NBA betting, you will always find the point spread bet featured prominently on any homepage of a given NBA matchup. Clicking on the spread number will highlight that bet. For example, if the Lakers are favored by 3 points, you will see “Lakers -3” with the specified odds usually listed below the spread. Then, simply add your desired wager amount and place the bet to complete the betting process.

How to Bet on NBA Point Spreads
How to Bet on NBA Point Spreads

Using a betting calculator to understand both your risk and potential reward can be a very useful tool to assist with the mathematical equations. Whether it’s a straight bet or a parlay, users can enter the odds and the amount they wish to wager to calculate the profit. Our odds calculator can tell you how much you will win based on your total wager.

How Does the Point Spread Work in Basketball?

The point spread is the most popular way to bet when it comes to basketball odds. In its simplest form, the point spread levels the playing field in any game, regardless of the mismatch.

Here are some key factors that bettors consider which influence the value of the point spread in NBA betting:

  • Team Strength: Teams with strong recent performances and talented rosters are more likely to be favored with a larger point spread. Conversely, weaker teams may receive fewer points.
  • Home Court Advantage: Playing at home can provide a significant advantage in the NBA, and this is reflected in the point spread. Home teams are often favored by a few points to account for this edge.
  • Injuries: Injuries to key players can greatly impact the point spread. If a star player is absent or playing at less than 100%, the point spread may adjust in favor of the opposing team.
  • Recent Form: A team’s recent form, including their win-loss record and margin of victory, can influence the point spread.
  • Head-to-Head Performance: The historical performance of teams against each other can also play a role in setting the point spread, especially if they have played recently. If one team consistently dominates the other, they may be favored by a larger spread.
  • Game Context: The specific context of the game, such as its importance, back-to-back games, or travel schedules, can affect the point spread.
  • Coaching and Strategy: The strategies and decisions of the coaching staff, particularly in close games, can impact the point spread. Some coaches are known for consistently exceeding expectations in crucial moments.

Why Bet on NBA Point Spreads Over Moneyline Betting?

Most NBA bettors often choose to bet on point spreads rather than moneyline betting for valid reasons. Unless there is a small spread, say 4 points or less, you begin to lose value with moneyline betting as the spread increases. Therefore, as the spread widens, bettors can expect less profit due to the “juice” being factored in.

“Juice” can best be described as the amount that sportsbooks charge when they accept your bet. If your bet wins, you receive the juice along with your profit. However, if you lose, you forfeit your initial bet and the juice paid to the sportsbook for placing the bet.

Why Bet on NBA Point Spreads Over Moneyline Betting?
Why Bet on NBA Point Spreads Over Moneyline Betting?

The difference between point spread betting and moneyline betting in the NBA is that moneyline betting simply requires the team you bet on to win the game outright, whereas point spread betting requires the team to win or lose by a specific margin. Several factors influence point spread betting, often known only to experienced bettors. Sometimes, even the smallest piece of information can give bettors a perceived edge and lead them to bet on a specific team. For example, the latest injury news, rest advantages, revenge narratives, or pre-game interviews are key components in identifying an edge for the team you want to bet on.


In conclusion, NBA spread betting offers bettors a dynamic and strategic way to engage with basketball games beyond simple win-loss predictions. It challenges bettors to analyze teams’ strengths, recent form, injuries, and other critical factors to make informed decisions. Whether you’re drawn to backing favorites with a strong spread or spotting opportunities with underdogs, NBA spread betting adds depth and excitement to the betting experience. It’s not just about the outcome of the game but also about how teams perform relative to expectations set by the spread, making each bet a calculated gamble that enhances the thrill of NBA wagering.

See more: Top 5 best spread betting sites for 2024