The NBA, or National Basketball Association, is a North American professional basketball league, made up of 29 US teams plus one from Canada.
Widely considered the world’s best men’s professional basketball league, and certainly the most lucrative, it’s one of four main professional sports leagues in North America.
Going by average yearly salary by player (more than $6 million in 2018-2019), NBA basketball players up amongst some the world’s highest-paid athletes. With blanket network TV coverage of games, it’s hard to understate the importance and popularity of NBA games.
Established in New York in 1946 with just 11 teams as the Basketball Association of America, it changed its name following a merger with the National Basketball League, a competitor.
The National Basketball Association is a member of USA Basketball, which the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) recognises as basketball’s nationwide governing body in the US.
Its 30 teams are divided into two ‘conferences’ (eastern and western) of three divisions with five teams each.
In short, the National Basketball Association is a cultural phenomenon. Many of its stars, from LeBron Raymone James Sr. of the Los Angeles Lakers to former player Michael Jordan, who now chairs the Charlotte Hornets, are household names. Its sheer razzle-dazzle is highly seductive.
Basketball: the lowdown
The basketball season
After the post-summer training camps, the regular season begins in late October. During a season, every team will play 82 games, equally divided between home and away meetings.
Each one meets opponents from within its own division four times a year, or for 16 games. It also plays six teams from its conference’s other two divisions four times, meaning 24 games, plus the remaining four teams three times, or for 12 games.
Finally, each team plays every team in its opposite conference twice, or for 30 games.
The regular season ends in mid-April, when the playoffs begin, for which teams are seeded. These take a tournament format and involve the top eight teams in each conference, competing for the championship title, the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Every team plays an opponent in a ‘best of seven’ series, and the first team to win four games advances to the next round, while the other team is knocked out.
The final round is known as the National Basketball Association Finals and takes place each June. The biggest winners to date have been:
- 17 wins: The Boston Celtics
- 16 wins: The Los Angeles Lakers
- 6 wins: The Chicago Bulls
- 6 wins: California’s Golden State Warriors
Basic rules of the game
An NBA game is split into four quarters of 12 minutes each, i.e. totalling 48 minutes. But with stoppage time for fouls, timeouts and so on, not to mention a 15-minute halftime break, typically games last a couple of hours or more.
If there’s no winner at the end of the game, play continues for a further ‘quarter’ of 12 minutes.
Each team has a dozen players, although only five are allowed on court at any one time. The ball can be moved by dribbling (bouncing) or passing.
When it comes to scoring, a team scores three points for any basket won from outside the three-point arc, two for any baskets scored from within it. Teams also win a point for each successful free throw.
Betting online on NBA games
Basketball is exciting because of the rapidly changing and high scores – there are no 0-0 draws. A lead of 10 points can be wiped out in a few minutes, so the action comes thick and fast.
It’s also a potentially profitable sport on which to have a flutter. What’s more, NBA betting is easily picked up. And with a bit of strategy, you can significantly boost your chances of winning.
You’ll find a huge range of options, from points totals (including within specific quarters of the match) to betting on individual player performance.
Typical bets include:
- Backing a favourite
- Let exhaustion win
- Money line bets
- Points spread market
- The in-play market
- Multiple accumulators
Backing a favourite
As one online bookie puts it, basketball upsets are extremely rare. Many favourites only need a bit of extra concentration to tip a game their way, especially in the second half.
Let exhaustion take its toll
The NBA season schedule is a tiring one, with teams playing more than 80 games in under 180 days, often with back-to-back matches. One common technique that sometimes works is to wait for a clear favourite’s third away game in a row and then back the underdog, who will also enjoy the home-turf advantage. You may just strike lucky.
Make a money line bet
This is probably the most common bet in basketball. Just choose the side you reckon will win. These bets also include any extra time, so there’s always an outcome.
The points spread market
Another favourite, this acts as a handicap or headstart for a specific team. So if, for instance, you bet on Golden State Warriors to win on a -3.5 handicap, they’d need to win the game by at least four points.
Explore the in-play markets
You’ll need to shop around for the most competitive basketball odds. But one way to secure better odds is to look at the in-play markets. That is the up-to-the-second, live markets that shift as a game does.
That means that if an underdog seems to be staging a comeback, in-play as opposed to pre-game betting makes you more likely to be quids-in.
Try a multiple accumulator
Choose a number of teams and place one bet that they all win. Yes, the risk is higher, but so are the potential rewards compared to a single selection.
Ready to play? Visit our online sports betting games to find out more.