Just because the Conference Finals are taking place right now doesn’t mean it’s too late to get in on the NBA betting action. There are still at least one or two – or maybe even four! – more games in the Conference Finals before the Championship Finals begin.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are tied after four games. The Golden State Warriors have won their first three games against the Dallas Mavericks – leaving the Mavericks in a perilous position. The playoffs have already had some dramatic shakeups, and everyone has their own favorite to win.
If you’re new to betting on the NBA, then the sheer number of games and the way the playoffs work can be a lot to take in. The best-of-seven format is an adjustment for fans who are used to the one-and-done playoff format used by the NFL.
It’s no surprise that betting on the NBA is a new hobby for many people – up until recently, betting on sports was severely limited by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Fantasy Football gave NFL betting an edge since fans were already familiar with the strategies and bet types.
No matter what anyone may tell you, getting in on NBA betting at the end of the season is actually a great idea. You can use the playoffs to try out some different bets and pick up some strategies and betting experience. Then, when the 2023 season rolls around, you’ll be ready to dive right in.
With that in mind, here are our top NBA betting tips for beginners:
The early bird gets the worm is an old saying that holds true for NBA betting too. More accurately, it would be ‘the early bettor gets the best odds’. Betting might look like it’s all down to math and statistics, and those do play an important role, but so does the human element.
If you’re well informed and place your bets early, you can get better odds. As bookmakers receive more detailed information as game time approaches, the odds become harder to beat. The earlier you get in before the closing line, the better off you’ll be if your bet pays out.
The home court advantage is a real phenomenon. It’s important to keep in mind how big of a positive impact playing at home can have on a team, as well as how demoralizing it can be for an away team to be greeted by boos and taunted as they play.
South Florida has been at the top of sporting news in recent months, first with the Miami Grand Prix and now with the Miami Heat vying for the Conference Finals. With game five between the Boston Celtics and the Heat taking place at the FTX Arena, it just might give the Heat a boost.
Study injury reports
Just like with any professional sport, injuries in the NBA are fairly common. While basketball is technically a non-contact sport, it does require players to be agile and pivot quickly. This opens up delicate knee and ankle joints, and the ligaments that connect them, to all sorts of injuries.
Staying up to date with the current injury reports is an important way to judge the overall fitness of a team before you place your bets. Of course, a star player being injured is a major concern for any bettor, especially on a team that relies heavily on a single player’s shooting abilities.
A bunch of small, repetitive injuries across the team is also a warning sign when betting. If players are consistently nursing minor injuries, the team is likely to be stretched thin. It can also be an indicator that the coach doesn’t have a lot of faith in his bench if he’s willing to overwork injured players.
Pay attention to scheduling
Sure, you’re betting on a single game, but that game isn’t happening in isolation. The NBA season is now 82 games long. Since the season isn’t year-round, that means that teams are often having to play games back-to-back, sometimes for several days in a row.
During the 2021-22 season, there were three times when teams played eight games in 12 nights. The number of back-to-back games has been decreasing — except during the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season — in recent years, but teams still can’t always count on a rest day before games.
Paying attention to scheduling means you can see if the teams you’re betting on have fresh legs or if they’re worn out from playing too many games in quick succession. It’s not always a game changer, but it can give a weaker but fresher team the edge they need to win a close game.
Experiment with different types of bets
The classic bet that everyone recognizes and expects is the single bet on which team will win, also known as a Moneyline bet. There’s a reason it’s the classic — it’s popular, straightforward and it’s easy to calculate exactly how much it should pay out. Plus, it’s the perfect type of wager to make between friends.
Once you’re comfortable with the basic bets and understand how to read odds, have some fun by branching out and trying different types of bets. Each type of bet has its own strategies, challenges and benefits.
Other popular types of bets include the Spread (how much a team will win or lose by), Over Under (how many points will be scored total), Futures (bets placed in advance on things like who will win the Final) and Parlays (bets made up of multiple other bets).
Who knows, you might have terrible luck picking a winner, but somehow you can always nail an Over Under. You’ll never know until you experiment a bit with different bets!
Our last tip is to listen to the experts. Odds makers and analysts usually have a fairly good idea about how a game is going to play out. Sure, there are always upsets and other surprises, and these keep the gaming interesting. For your everyday betting advice, though, find an expert with a proven track record and listen.