NBA Betting

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2020 NBA Restart Betting Update

Mark your calendars, basketball fans. If the coronavirus allows it, the 2019-20 NBA season will resume on Thursday, July 30 with a pair of games at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Both games will be shown on TNT. At 6:30 PM ET, the Utah Jazz will face the New Orleans Pelicans, then the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will take the floor at 9 PM. NBA odds for these games – and the rest of that weekend’s action – are already on the board at Bovada Sportsbook.

As part of the league’s attempt to get back up to speed, the 22 teams invited to Orlando will play a series of scrimmages, three per team, starting on July 22. These are not official games, so there aren’t any NBA betting lines attached, but it will be an opportunity to see these players in action for the first time since the season was put on pause back in March. The big question will be who shows up. Last Friday, Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo joined the growing list of players who are sitting out the restart.


July 2020 NBA Update

That list includes Lakers guard Avery Bradley, but his decision to stay behind might actually help his team’s cause. The Lakers are still the top commodity on the NBA Vegas odds, thanks to the 1-2 punch of LeBron James and Anthony Davis; they’ll miss Bradley’s defense somewhat, but with sharpshooter JR Smith signing up last week for a reunion with King James, LA remain +200 title favorites on the NBA odds board at Bovada.

The Lakers are also 1.5-point “home” favorites over the Clippers on the NBA lines for the season restart. Despite having success against their Staples Center rivals this year, the Clippers find themselves in third place at +300 on the championship futures market, behind the Milwaukee Bucks at +280. The Clippers were forced to shut down their practice facility last week after a positive coronavirus test; the same thing happened to the Denver Nuggets (+2500) and Brooklyn Nets (+15000).

There’s still a chance the league will have to put the 2019-20 season back on ice. A fresh sheet of NBA specials is on the betting menu at Bovada, including odds on whether a champion will be crowned this year – Yes is the heavy favorite at –500, so that’s a positive sign the restart is on track. You can also bet on which of the “play-in” teams will make the postseason, with the Nets (–105) in very good shape in the Eastern Conference, and the Pelicans (+250) needing to do some work in the highly competitive West.

More NBA odds will be posted as events unfold, so keep checking in with Bovada Sportsbook for the latest lines and analysis, and get ready for what promises to be the strangest end to a season in basketball history.



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NBA Odds Breakdown


Getting out of the Eastern Conference would be impressive enough. The East is home to several viable contenders on the NBA Vegas odds board, including the defending champion Toronto Raptors at +1600, and both the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat at +2500. However, Milwaukee’s toughest competition, if they make it that far, will probably come from one the two LA teams in the West. Here are the top five favorites on Bovada’s NBA lines at press time:

1. Los Angeles Lakers: +200 NBA Odds

Milwaukee may have the best player in the league, but they don’t have the same 1-2 combo punch as the Lakers. There might not be a better Dynamic Duo in the NBA than LeBron James and Anthony Davis; James has three titles to his credit, and continues to play at an elite level at age 35, although he’s not performing at the same level as Antetokounmpo. In fact, as the season has worn on, Davis has become the more productive player of the two Lakers. Either way you slice it, LA has two of the NBA’s best five players right now. But do they have enough support to make it all the way to the top of the mountain?


2. Milwaukee Bucks: +280 NBA Odds

The Bucks are still on track to win 70 games this year, which has only been done twice before – the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) were the first team to hit that mark. That championship winner featured Michael Jordan. Milwaukee has reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who looks like he’ll claim that honor again this year after successfully taking on an even bigger workload for the Bucks. Khris Middleton isn’t quite as potent a sidekick as Scottie Pippen was for Jordan, but he’s close, and Milwaukee’s collection of quality role players is arguably even better than what the Bulls had to work with during their second three-peat.


3. Los Angeles Clippers: +300 NBA Odds

The Clippers might be the perfect marriage of the two teams ahead of them on the NBA futures market. They have two elite players in Kawhi Leonard (a two-time NBA Finals MVP) and Paul George, but they also have ample depth at every position on the floor. Los Angeles added to that pile of talent by acquiring Marcus Morris from the New York Knicks at the trade deadline, then signing Reggie Jackson after he arranged his buyout with the Detroit Pistons. Combine that with Leonard’s intelligent load management, and the Clippers already beating the Lakers twice SU and ATS this year, and you might be looking at the next champions.


4. Houston Rockets: +1200 NBA Odds

Then again, there might not be better value on the board than the Rockets, who moved up from +1400 after starting the second half of the regular season with a five-game winning streak. The early returns on their small-ball gamble have been promising; 6-foot-7 Robert Covington has played better defense than the man he replaced, 6-foot-10 Clint Capela, while also hitting 34.7% of his 3-point attempts. That has mercifully taken the burden off Russell Westbrook (25.0% from long range) to help create space for James Harden in Houston’s offense.


5. Boston Celtics: +1400 NBA Odds

They’re still third behind the Bucks and Raptors in the Eastern standings, but the Celtics have overtaken Toronto on the betting board. Jayson Tatum’s development into a bona fide All-Star alongside proven point guard Kemba Walker has raised Boston’s title ceiling considerably. Now they just have to stay healthy, which has been an ongoing issue for most of their top players this year. Gordon Hayward (knee) and Jaylen Brown (hamstring) are both out of commission with the playoffs just one month away.



*Odds as of July 30th, 2020


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How to Bet on the NBA

The NBA has made incredible strides over the past 50 years. After struggling to gain a foothold in the North American sports market, the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird rivalry captured the world’s attention in the early 1980s. Then Michael Jordan came along to solidify things. Now basketball is second only to football when it comes to betting on sports – and the NBA is gaining ground.


Believe it or not, you don’t actually have to know all that much about basketball to bet on the NBA. But you do need to understand how the NBA odds work. We’ll show you how to bet on NBA basketball at Bovada Sportsbook; you’ll be introduced to the different ways you can bet, and we’ll give you some tips for how to approach these odds correctly and make better picks.


NBA Spread

The point spread is the engine that drives NBA betting. Instead of one team or the other winning straight-up, the spread asks the favorite to win by a certain number of points in order to pay out. That number will be chosen carefully, and will make your bet closer to a 50/50 outcome – which is easier for everyone to deal with at the end of the day.

Here’s an example from Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors:

  • Toronto Raptors +2.5 (-115)
  • Vasyl Lomachenko -2.5 (-105)

The Warriors were playing at home, so they were listed at the bottom, and in this case, they were favored by 2.5 points – as indicated by the negative sign next to their spread. For Golden State to pay out, they needed to beat Toronto by at least three points, while the underdog Raptors could have lost by up to two points and still cover the spread.

The numbers in parentheses refer to the juice (also known as vigorish or vig) that you pay the sportsbook to process your wager. The “American odds” format is used at Bovada to express this number. Most NBA games will have the juice set at –110 for both sides, meaning you’ll bet $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, or any other multiple. In this case, the juice was moved slightly to give Golden State a better “price” (you only needed to bet $105 to win $100) and encourage more action on the Warriors.

Generally speaking, a sportsbook will move the point spread – and sometimes the juice itself – to create balanced action on both teams. This allows the book to pay the winning bets with the money collected from the losing wagers and keep the vigorish as their commission, thus minimizing their risk of exposure. The odds you get at the time you place your bet will be the odds used to calculate your payout; in the above example, the Warriors opened at –4 two days before tip-off, then gradually moved down to –2.5 (–105) by game time.


NBA Moneyline

Before Charles K. McNeil introduced the point spread in the 1940s, the moneyline was the standard way to bet on sports. It’s still a popular commodity on the NBA Vegas odds; you simply pick a team to win, and if they do, you cash in. It just takes a little more work to do the accounting. Here was the moneyline for our example game:

  • Toronto Raptors +105
  • Vasyl Lomachenko -125

Again, the American odds format is used for the moneyline, and the Warriors were still the favorites, paying out $100 for every $125 wagered. The underdog Raptors (as indicated by the positive sign next to their odds) would pay $105 for every $100 wagered if they won – which they did, 114-100 to take the series and the title.


NBA Total

The last of the three “straight” or “single” bets in basketball is the total. This is where you bet on whether the two teams in question will combine to score Over or Under the posted number of points – which is why this bet is also commonly referred to as the over/under. Capital letters are used here when referring to totals for ease of reading.

They also appear in the totals posted at Bovada Sportsbook. Here’s what you would have seen on the NBA odds board for our example game:

  • Toronto Raptors 0 212.5 (-115)
  • Vasyl Lomachenko U 212.5 (-105)

The line for the Over is always listed at the top, but Bovada includes the capital O to clear up any confusion. The total works a lot like the point spread; it’s close to a 50/50 situation, with the Over paying out $100 in this case for every $115 wagered if the combined score was at least 213 points – which it was, thanks to all the extra free throws Kawhi Leonard got to shoot at the end. Otherwise, the Under would have paid $100 for every $105 wagered.


NBA Buying Points

If you like a team to beat the spread, but you’d prefer a little insurance, you can “buy” an extra half-point and make it easier for them to cover. In NBA betting, you can buy up to 1.5 points in either direction; for our Game 6 example, you could have bet on Toronto at up to +4, or Golden State at –1. Each half-point in the NBA costs 10 “cents” in vigorish, meaning the juice goes up from –110 to –120, then –130 and finally –140 for the full 1.5 points.


NBA Futures

You can always bet on the NBA at Bovada, no matter what time of year it is. Odds to win the NBA championship are available all day, every day; you’ll find these odds on the futures market, which is where you bet on events that won’t be resolved until a future date. Conference and Division odds are also regular features on the NBA futures market.


NBA Props (Team, Player, Season)

This is where you bet on something other than the game outcome itself. NBA props (short for “proposition” bets) generally fall into the above three categories. Depending on the game in question, you might be able to bet on which team will score first, or which player will score first; you can also bet on whether a team will record Over or Under a certain number of wins during the regular season.


NBA Specials

Some bets that don’t fall neatly into the above categories might appear as NBA specials, like which team a marquee free agent will sign with, or who will lead the league in scoring.


NBA Live Betting

Betting on the NBA is even more fun when you do it while the game is in progress. Hit the LIVE button when you’re browsing the odds, and you’ll see which NBA games are available for live betting; the usual straight wagers are there, with their odds updated continuously, and you can also bet on things like whether the next bucket will be a free throw, a 2-pointer or a 3-pointer.

NBA Betting Tips

Betting on basketball is a bit like the stock market; if you want to get as many picks right as possible, you should support teams that other bettors aren’t giving enough credit, and bet against (or “fade”) teams that others are giving too much credit. Pay close attention to which players are injured or taking the day off, both of which happen more often these days. And never put all your eggs in one basket – protect your bankroll by placing a lot of small bets instead of one big bet.

With this approach, you can look at all the different NBA lines posted at Bovada Sportsbook and pick the ones you think will give you the best value. Remember to keep it fun – don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose, and don’t get flustered if your pick doesn’t come in. Nobody can tell the future, after all. Win or lose, just move on to the next pick, and make sure to visit Bovada on the regular for updated odds and analysis.

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