How to Read NBA Odds
A point spread is a bet on whether the favorite will win by a specific number of points or more, or whether the underdog will lose by a certain number of points or win the game outright. For example, if the Sacramento Kings are -6.5 against the Memphis Grizzlies (who would be +6.5), a bet on the Kings would pay out if they won by seven or more points. A bet on the Grizzlies would cash if Memphis were to lose by fewer than seven or win the game.
Most point spread bets cost between -100 and -115, meaning bettors need to place that amount of money to earn $100. A valuable tool at Bookies.com is our tracker of NBA teams against the spread. It helps you spot the best teams when making your NBA picks.
The moneyline is a bet on which team will win a game outright, which means more risk if picking an underdog but more reward as well.
For example, if LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are heavy favorites against the Chicago Bulls, the Lakers would have a moneyline set at -400. That means bettors would need to place $400 down to win $100 if the Lakers won the game. Favorites are always minus odds in NBA betting odds.
Underdogs are plus-odds. In that same matchup, Chicago could be +350, meaning a $100 bet would earn $350 in profit if the Bulls were to upset the Lakers.
The over-under is concerned with the combined points of the two teams. A bettor places a bet on whether those combined points will be more (over) or less (under) than the total set by oddsmakers.
For example, if the over-under set Los Angeles Clippers-San Antonio Spurs is 224.5, the over pays out if the combined point total is 225 or more, with the under paying out on a combined point total of 224 or less. Most over-under bets cost between -100 and -120, meaning bettors need to place that amount of money to win $100. There are NBA over/under trends that develop over a season.
You can use tools such as our odds calculator and our parlay calculator to calculate potential payouts and convert odds for all these types of odds.
How Are NBA Odds Generated?
Oddsmakers consider a number of different statistical factors that make up the formula for a game’s moneyline, point spread, over-under total and even player props. Whatever numbers that algorithm spits out for a given game, however, is not the end-all, be-all. Oddsmakers can, and often will, tweak that number to favor one side or the other to make the point spread more favorable to potential bettors or to help balance the bets on that matchup.
There are also other factors oddsmakers will use that algorithms and numbers can’t necessarily account for: injuries and load management are more prevalent than ever in the NBA, and more players are being tagged as questionable and probable to play.
Oddsmakers must consider the likelihood of those players participating – or not – in a given game when setting their lines. While it may not matter when consider a role player’s status is up in the air, it certainly does for a star such as Giannis Antetokounmpo or LeBron James, who both can and most likely will shift the course of a game.
How Often Do NBA Odds Change?
When it comes to game odds, once a line is set by oddsmakers, it won’t change much prior to the start of the game. Oddsmakers may decide to shift the line a point or two to help balance the bets (if one side is being bet too heavily), but there won’t be any drastic swings unless a significant injury pops up.
But don’t be so quick to dismiss those small point swings. They can make all the difference for a bettor, which is why it’s critical to bookmark this page so you can see up-to-the-second changes in those lines. Our matrix makes sure you’re never behind with the best lines available so you can bet on NBA games with confidence.
Spreads and over-under totals will fluctuate in-game, however. Live spreads and over-unders will change based on how the game has gone up to that point and provide a new final spread or point total that bettors can wager on in-game. Live betting is one of the most exciting and fastest growing markets in online sports betting.
NBA futures odds, however, tend to fluctuate considerably during the course of a season. The Boston Celtics could start the season at +2000 to win the NBA title, jump to +800 on the heels of a huge winning streak and other teams struggling, and then slide back down to +1400 when the NBA playoffs start because other teams have surged. That’s why it is important to stay on top of futures markets and “buy” when the time is right.