How to Bet on Basketball

Basketball is one of the most exciting sports on the planet and we’re happy to show you everything you need to know about how to bet on basketball. The sport is played all over the world but the pinnacle of basketball is the NBA in America. There are also big competitions in Europe — such as the continent-wide Euro League — and Asia is seeing a major growth in the sport in recent years.

Of course, the Olympics remains the gold standard for international basketball and there is also a World Cup staged every four years. But at club level, the NBA is the big draw and attracts fans from all over the world. Basketball betting is one of the most straightforward markets in sports gaming. In this guide we’ll take you through how to bet on basketball, what are the most popular odds and details of live streaming.

Read the guide below and become an expert in basketball and NBA betting.

Betting Tips

Basketball rules

Most popular basketball betting markets

How to bet on NBA games

Most basketball betting fans who are just starting out will likely make bets on the outcome of a match. These match bets simply offer the punter the chance to back a winner. Because there are no draws in basketball, this is the easiest way to get used to basketball betting. You either back the home team (1) to win, or the away team (2).

Games that finish level after the fourth quarter go to overtime, where a winner will be decided. Therefore, basketball betting markets will usually offer players a match bet including overtime, to cover for that eventuality.

Handicap betting is huge in basketball because of the way the scoring works. A handicap can work in two ways: either the underdog team is given hypothetical extra points at the beginning of the game, or the favourite has points taken off their tally. Doing this evens out the odds and makes betting on an uneven match far more competitive.

Let us give you an example:

In a match between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers we offer you a ‘Handicap – Including Overtime’ bet, where Golden State will win by at least six points (-5.5) or the Lakers don’t lose with more than five points (+5.5). If you bet on the Warriors with the handicap, and they win by seven points, you win — it’s as simple as that. Handicap betting gives the player a chance to get higher odds, or make a risky bet a safer one.

Over/under bets are also hugely popular in NBA betting. Again, this is because there are sometimes over 220 points scored in a single game. It means players face little chance of predicting the correct score, or the total number of points. So an over/under market is offered instead.

In over/under bets, a player bets on whether or not the game will produce more or fewer points than a specific target. So, you could bet on a Pistons vs Bucks game yielding +190.5 points. If 191 points are scored, you win your bet. As the average number of points scored in an NBA game is around 180 and 220, most over/under bets have odds around these points.

You can also bet on the first quarter result, as well as the first half result. So if you think a team will start brightly but may not have enough to secure the win, then this is the sort of bet where you can improve your chances of winning a bet. It works like a match bet, where you back the team (1 or 2) you think will be leading at the first quarter or at half time.

Player specific bets are also big in basketball — usually because each team has one star man. For example, you may wish to back Luka Doncic to top score for his team during a specific game. Doncic is a formidable point guard and the Slovenian’s odds on top scoring in a match could be very low indeed. Top scorer betting remains popular in basketball and is a great way to follow a player you like, even if you don’t support their team!

Basketball Betting Strategy

Having a solid betting strategy is a vital component to making money on the Betfair exchange. Spotting trends can be especially profitable when trading on the exchange. For example, the Oklahoma City Thunder has been averaging 119.0 points in their last four games while shooting 51.4 percent. This is a perfect example of a team that must be followed in the short term until their form starts to level off. No team can sustain this level of play for extended periods, so it is crucial to stop when the numbers drop.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Milwaukee Bucks recently fell to 2-21 against Western Conference opponents. This is an example of a longer-term trend that can pay dividends. This team should be opposed until they win two or three consecutive games against the West.

In-play strategies

Knowing when to bet against the market is crucial to securing a profit. One strategy I am fond of is backing a team with a double-digit deficit at halftime.

Always back a team that has a winning record and is playing a team with a losing record. Statistics are valuable when trading on basketball, and I find them especially valuable when trading in play. At halftime I go to and check the relevant percentages of the game I wish to trade on. For example, the Miami Heat may be trailing the Orlando Magic by 15 points at the interval. Orlando may be shooting the ball at 55 percent, but their average is only 44.4 percent. They would be unlikely to continue to shoot at this level for the whole game, so they should be opposed. On the other hand, Miami is averaging 50.7 percent for the season, and based on this percentage, the team would be likely to stage a comeback. A win bet on Miami should be placed.

The format at is user friendly, and both defensive and offensive stats can be read on one page. The page features a filter icon with which you can add or remove statistics to suit your needs. I use this filter to read first-half statistics. This enables me to make an informed decision quickly.

The same page can be used to trade the total points in the in-play market. For example, if the Phoenix Suns are playing the Los Angeles Clippers, the average total points score for the game will be 212.8. This score is based on a combined figure of both teams’ seasonal averages. If the total points scored at halftime is 90 or under, a bet on the over total points should be placed. Statistically speaking, both teams should score heavily in the second half. Do not be afraid to go against the market in these situations. A healthy profit can be garnered following these rules.

Opposing a big-market team can yield a healthy profit. The New York Knicks are one of the most recognized teams in the NBA and often trade at shorter prices than they should, particularly when they are leading at halftime. I use Basketball Reference along with when opposing a big-market team. Basketball Reference includes an excellent game results graph that provides the season results for each team and the margin of victory at a glance.

The adage ‘No one ever went broke making a profit’ certainly applies to trading basketball. A basketball game may have several lead changes, and most teams have the ability to score heavily in bursts. As a result, it is not uncommon for both teams to trade at odds on during a game. An opportunity to trade out for a guaranteed profit may present itself throughout the course of a game. If you are trading in play and have the opportunity to make a profit, I would recommend carefully considering this option.

Long term basketball betting

There are also numerous long-term bets you can place on NBA and basketball each year. Here at Unibet we offer markets on season-long bets such as the NBA Championship winner, the NBA MVP award and the Rookie of the Year.

Some players can carry a team through an entire season but it is usually a star from the NBA Championship winning team that claims the MVP award. Therefore, be sure to keep an eye on which teams look good to make the NBA Finals before placing a bet on this market.

Equally, the Rookie of the Year betting market is one that fluctuates throughout the season. Rookies arrive in their first year of the NBA usually from college and most take time to adapt to their professional surroundings. Yet some earn the Rookie of the Year award and go on to become legends, such as LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal.

International basketball

European basketball is huge and especially the Euro League — which is basketball’s equivalent to the Champions League in football. Here, Europe’s best teams from the likes of Spain, Turkey, Russia and Italy collide each week.

Eurobasket is the big international tournament in basketball and takes place every four years. This is where the big basketball nations such as Russia, Serbia, Spain and Slovenia converge to battle it out for continental glory.

Basketball is also played at the Olympics and has its own World Cup, which is staged every four years. The USA have won the World Cup five times and boast 15 Olympic gold medals.

Where to bet on basketball?

Where should I bet on basketball online? This is an issue that arises very often for a novice sports bettor, as there is practically no online bookmaker that does not include basketball events in their betting offer. We’ve selected the top 3 bookies available for Irish players that offer the following: the best odds, lots of basketball events and markets, fast payouts and great extra betting features such as live stream, cash out or in play betting!

Did you know you can live stream basketball from around the world at Unibet? They offer fans the chance to watch and bet on the biggest matches in world basketball, direct to your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Live stream NBA with Unibet and bet in-play on every match of the season. This service is available to new and current customers. Now, many NBA games are played during the night because of the time difference with the US. But weekend games are often enjoyed in the afternoons and evenings. It means you can follow the best teams on the planet each week without having to set an early alarm clock!

You can also live stream Euro League and bet in-play on all the action from this tournament. The best teams on the continent compete in Euro League, which runs from autumn to spring each year.

SIGN UP BONUS: 40€ Risk free bet – Read our full reviewSIGN UP NOW

Known for its wide range of all-inclusive betting offers, bet365 also offers its registered customers plenty of betting opportunities for this sport. In addition to international tournaments, top league matches, you can also bet on friendly club matches and league matches that are less well known in Hungary (eg Nicaragua LSB, Philippine MPBL, Paraguay Primera, etc.) .

Among other things, the line-up also includes various events and clashes of the NBA, WNBA, Euroleague, and Eurocap. This way, there are plenty of matches for those who focus on NBA basketball betting, as well as users who prefer Euroleague matches, the German Bundesliga, or the French Pro A tournament.
The basketball betting offer includes all the typical markets (i.e quarter markets, handicap markets, point difference markets, whether there will be overtime, correct score betting markets, etc.). In addition to odds for this sport are very high. The platform also provides live streaming and live betting.

SIGN UP BONUS: 100% up to 100€Read our full reviewSIGN UP NOW

Betfair, a sports betting exchange, is also one of the online gambling providers that can be recommended for basketball betting. The betting offer includes all the prestigious basketball tournaments, international competitions and the top league matches.. But you’ll also find a number of lesser-known league matches.

Although the number of betting markets is average, this bookmaker also has the option to use the sports betting exchange section, which allows you to place bets on basketball matches (bets against other users’ bets) at astonishingly high odds. Betfair is currently offering €20 credits for Betfair Exchange for any new players who sign up from Ireland.

SIGN UP BONUS: 20€ exchange Bet in cash – Read our full reviewSIGN UP NOW


Betting Tips


Sign up to our newsletter and never miss a special promotion or freebet! Plus, get exclusive bonuses directly on your email!