Our Guide To How NBA Odds Work

There are three different ways that NBA odds can be written; fraction, decimal and American. When you are reading NBA odds, they will be in the American format. For a full explanation of how each three formats work, including how to work out how much you will profit and what the odds mean for the probability of your betting winning, check out our how to read odds page. 

American odds are used for moneyline, point spread, total over/under and prop bets as well as NBA futures odds.

NBA Betting Odds

When NBA betting, the favourite of a contest will have negative odds, for example -175, meaning you must risk/bet $175 to be able to profit $100, if your bet wins. The underdog of a contest will have positive odds, for example +150, meaning if you risk/bet $100, you will profit +150, if your bet wins.

Are you still wondering how to bet on the NBA? The following table explains what would happen if you bet on a team in a particular game and they went on to win:

Denver Nuggets-250$50$20$70
Miami Heat+210$50$105$155

The Denver Nuggets are -250 favourites in this game and a $50 bet would return $70 ($50 stake + $20 profit) if they win. The Miami Heat are +210 underdogs and a $50 bet would return $155 ($50 stake + $105 profit) if they win. Underdogs have much better odds as their probability of winning is less than the favourites.

Using the formula to convert odds into probability of winning on our how to read odds page, the odds of this Nuggets v Heat game represent the following probabilities of winning:

TeamOddsProbability of Winning
Denver Nuggets-25071.43%
Miami Heat+21032.26%

The odds provided represent Denver having a 71.43% chance of winning and Miami having a 32.26% chance of winning.

You may notice that those odds add up to more than 100%, but how is that possible? Sportsbooks always make the odds so that they end up making a profit, and by making the odds so that the probability adds to 100%, theoretically if there was even money bet on both sides of the game, they would profit overall regardless of the outcome.

Our experts explain how NBA picks work and ensure that you are getting the best odds available on all of your bets.

How do NBA future odds work?

One NBA betting strategy often used is betting on NBA future markets. NBA future odds allow you to bet on an event where the outcome won’t happen for a period of time. You can bet on individual and team awards, with most markets opening soon after the previous season finishes!

Using an example from the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals betting odds:

Milwaukee Bucks-117
Boston Celtics+255
Toronto Raptors+390
Miami Heat+800

The Milwaukee Bucks are -117 favourites to win the East and advance to the NBA Finals. These odds mean that you would have to bet $117 in order to profit $100, for a total return of $217 (stake + profit). Based on the above odds, the Bucks have a 53.92% chance of winning the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Celtics behind them with a 28.17% chance.

The odds for this market, and most other future markets are inflated due to the different number of teams with the possibility of winning. When you actually get to the Eastern Conference Finals, there are only two teams left who can win, so the probability of them winning increases and the odds decrease. 

If you are chasing value and want to bet on a futures market, our NBA experts have made their best picks, predictions and analysis for every playoff series, as well as the NBA Finals and NBA Draft, as well as analysing team’s win totals for the regular season

How NBA Odds Work FAQs

How do odds work in NBA?

The odds in NBA work appear in an American format. A negative number means that team is the favourite and indicates how much you would have to wager to profit $100, while a positive number means that team is the underdog and shows what you will profit from a $100 wager. 

Some of the NBA odds and predictions you’ll find include:

  • Spread
  • Moneyline
  • Over/under
  • Multi-game Parlay
  • Same-game Parlay
  • Props, including player and team bets

How often do NBA odds change?

With games being played every night during the season and frequent injuries and changes in form, odds change all the time. Sportsbooks update the odds with every new piece of information that comes from the players, teams and media.

It is important to keep up to date with all of the information before you place your bets, and here at SportsTips, we have all of that information for you. As soon as we hear it, we will pass it right along to you, so continue to check in and also keep up to date with our social media pages.

Which team has the best odds to win the Finals?

After winning the 2020 NBA Championship, the Los Angeles Lakers have opened betting for the 2021 title as +350 favourites. They are followed by the Los Angeles Clippers (+450) and the Milwaukee Bucks (+550).

How do you find the best NBA odds today?

At SportsTips, our NBA experts study the form of every team playing, whilst looking at the different markets that sportsbooks provide to come up with the best NBA picks and predictions for all of today’s games.

Who has the best value odds for the NBA?

The answer here varies by each pick. Our team at SportsTips will check all of the sportsbooks, including PointsBet, DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, BetAmerica, and many other high-profile sportsbooks. We will list all the top NBA odds and predictions for these games to help you get the most profit available on the market.