NBA Odds  

NBA odds are the key to maintaining a solid betting edge. The odds and payout factors for betting on NBA games are analyzed through the various types of bets when wagering on the NBA.

You can find a full list of NBA odds and bets on New Jersey sportsbooks, now that another exciting NBA season is in full swing.

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Understanding NBA Odds and Payouts

The odds of winning a specific bet type will determine the payout for winning a single NBA event. Reviewing how the NBA odds affect the payout value for each type of basketball wager will help you to gain an edge on NBA betting. 

Point Spread Odds

NBA odds are developed by linemakers to provide a balanced action resulting in a point spread, which is the most common type of NBA wager. The spread is a carefully prepared estimate of the favored team’s expected winning points margin.

Balanced action is vital for sportsbooks to collect their maximum commission (“vig”) and maintain their operating profit. Sportsbooks aim at achieving betting lines that result in equal amount bets on both sides of an NBA event. 

Odds analysis looks at how well this estimate of winning margin lines up with the underlying team performance factors.

Some bettors will see an opportunity in “taking” the points, confident the underdog will either win outright or cover the spread. Others will analyze the same match-up of NBA teams and determine that “laying” the points is the better wager. 

The final outcome of the NBA match is not important to the sportsbook. They only care that the action is balanced.

As a bettor, you are carefully evaluating the team match-ups, but also how well the spread aligns with your comparative performance analysis.

Here is an example.

Teams Point Spread Odds
Boston Celtics  -4.5 -110
Brooklyn Nets +4.5  -110

The point spread number is in effect, the “balancer”, and the magnitude of the number represents the extent of the favorite’s win probability. The higher that number, the higher the favorite’s expected win margin. 

The odds are the same on both sides. Even odds, in the sportsbook’s view, means equal payout on either side less the “vig”.  Odds of -110 means a bet of $110, returns a win amount of $100. 

In this example, a winning bet collects the $100, along with the original bet amount of $110, for a total of $210. The true even odds payout on a $110 bet would 2 to 1 or return an amount of $220. The $10 difference is the “vig”.

Odds in Point Totals

A wager on the combined score of both teams in a single game is a points total bet, or more often called an Over/Under bet. The points total number is the expected combined scoring total of both teams. The sportsbooks will offer a betting position on the combined total score that generates balanced wagering. 

One group of bettors anticipates more 3-point shot success and a high scoring match-up, while others have an expectation of a defensive battle with a lower shooting percentage resulting in a lower combined score by both teams.

Listed below is an example of an NBA point totals odds listing:

Teams  Over/Under Odds
Boston Celtics 218   -110
Brooklyn Nets   218  -110

The sportsbooks list NBA total lines at “sportsbook even”, with odds of -110. Since this is a combined score of the game the Over/Under line is the same number for both teams. 

The betting analysis requires a comparative look at the defensive capabilities for both teams relative to their opponent’s ability to score baskets.

Rebound percentages, turnovers, 3-point shooting all factor into the odds analysis of NBA point total wagers.

The analysis looks at the factors that make the probability of the total score outcome more certain and therefore, worthy of placing a bet.

Odds in a Money Line Bet

The odds difference is the balancer in a money line. The odds of winning the game, regardless of the final points margin, is aligned with payout. The higher the probability for a win, the lower the payout.

Listed below is a typical example of a typical NBA, “money line” offer, with the wagering odds for a game:

Teams Odds
Boston Celtics -160
Brooklyn Nets  +130

In this example, the Boston Celtics are the “odds on” favorite to win the game.  A winning bet of $160 on the Knicks, returns a total payout amount of $260. The total payout includes $100 in winnings, plus the $160 initial bet amount. 

The odds of the favorite team winning the game regardless of the point margin will determine the payout.

In this example, the Celtics are expected to be the game’s winner. Given this likely outcome, a bettor receives less than “even money”, with a Boston win. 

The negative number in the listed pair represents the odds for the favorite. 

The plus number represents the odds for the “underdog”. 

The odds/payout alignment means the more likely the favorite will win the basketball game, the lower the return, and the opposite holds for the underdog.

Understanding Probability and Odds Value for NBA Betting

When considering the odds and payout structure for an NBA bet, you should review the basic probability concepts. 

In the examples above, we looked at single event bets; a team win, a team win by points margin, or game points total.

A multiple NBA event bet, allows the bettor to include more than one game or more than one type of bet for a combined bet. A parlay bet that combines a point spread team selection and an over/under bet is a common example of a multiple event bet.

Examine the multiple bet odds structure. Multiple selection NBA bets, such as parlays or teasers offer higher payouts as compared to single event bet, but the risk of loss is much higher. To cash a multiple event bet, each of the individual bets on the combined wager must be a win or a tie. The probability of winning multiple bets is determined by the combined probability of winning each individual even.

Odds vs Payouts Probability

We’ll use a simple coin flip example to look at the probability and odds value of a combined bet. 

Let’s assume a hypothetical situation of a sportsbook line on the flip of 2 coins. Probability theory states that If a coin is flipped 1000 times, each outcome (heads or tails), would occur approximately 500 times, an outcome probability of 50% (500/1000).  

Let’s extend the example with a parlay bet on two separate coin toss events:

Event  Teams  Odds
Event 1 Heads   -110
  Tails   -110
Event 2  Heads -110
  Tails  -110

Additionally, let’s assume our parlay bet is that both events (coin flips) result in “heads”: event 1= Heads and event 2 =Heads.

The probability of a single coin toss resulting in either heads or tails winning is 50%. 

A fair odds/payout would be sportsbook even (less the vig). A single coin toss event bet of $110 would pay a profit of $100, and an amount of $210 is paid in total. 

A parlay with two events pays 2.5 to 1. As more events are added to bet the probability of winning all the bets decreases, and the payouts increase significantly. 


For example:

3 events on a parlay bet the payout increases to 6 to 1, 4 events pay 10 to 1.

It is important to note, however, that without additional information that would change our probability of win, the payout multiples on parlay bets fall short of the underlying probability.  

The coin toss parlay example above has a joint probability of 50% times 50% or 25%.

Probability math says we win this specific parlay bet once out of every four bets we placed over time, but the payout is 2.5 to 1. It is not 4 to 1.


Of course, the odds value of an actual game event is determined through comparative performance analysis and is far more complex than a coin flip. Often there is information that changes the underlying probability assumptions and makes parlays and teaser bets profitable over time. 

As you enjoy betting on another great NBA season, always consider these odds/value concepts and bet for value.

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6 March 2020
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