#Betting101: How to Bet on the NBA - Season Opens w/ Celtics-Cavs

Jason Lake

Sunday, October 15, 2017 7:39 PM UTC

Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 7:39 PM UTC

The 2017-18 NBA regular season starts Tuesday with both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers in action. Are you ready to make some basketball picks?

We always say there’s no such thing as an “offseason” when you’re making NBA picks. There’s always something on the NBA futures market year-round, like who will win the next title, who will get scooped up in the annual draft, or whether teams will go OVER or UNDER their posted regular-season win totals. You can even bet on preseason basketball. It’s a beautiful life.

But this week, our work begins in earnest. The first regular-season games of the year are coming up on Tuesday, and the first betting lines are already available on the NBA odds board. If this is your first time betting on basketball, or if you just need a refresher before launching into the new season, here’s a quick look at how all this works.

We’re Betting Basketball
Betting on the NBA is pretty much the same exercise as any other team sport. If you’re used to betting on football, you’ll recognize the familiar single bets: the point spread, the moneyline, and the total. The spread is the most common way to bet on the NBA. Here’s the way Tuesday’s opener (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT) between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers shakes out:

Boston      +3.5 (–110)
Cleveland –3.5 (–110)

The Cavaliers are the home team, so they’re listed second, and they’re laying 3.5 points to Boston. That means they have to win by at least four points to cover the spread and payout, while the Celtics can lose by as many as three points and still cover. The “(–110)” to the right of the spread shows the vigorish for the betting line; in this case, you need to bet $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, or any multiple thereof.

The sportsbooks have the option of moving the basketball odds up until tip-off. Generally speaking, they want to balance the action on both sides as much as possible and pay out the winners with the money supplied by the losers – while pocketing that extra $10 in vigorish as a commission for processing your wager.

The Browns aren't worth my energy anymore. I have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on my TV in two days

— Mark Smaldino (@MDSmalls23) October 15, 2017

When you bet on the NBA, you shouldn’t be trying to beat the bookie, you should be looking for weakness in the betting market. If too many people bet on Cleveland, the NBA lines will shift and create betting value for Boston. The same can be said for the Celtics – although in this case, LeBron James and the Cavaliers are a very popular team, and our consensus reports at press time show 60 percent of bettors on Cleveland, moving the spread from –3 at the open. This is why the Cavs went 36-43-3 ATS (Against The Spread) last year. Now you know how to take advantage.

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