With the NBA season in full swing the games come thick and fast. It’s great from a spectator viewpoint but it’s even better if you have a trusted technique for beating the bookie. Here we’re going to look at how to win point spread bets on the NBA.
Our guide to betting on point spreads will look at what point spread betting is, what research can give you an edge and how you can boost your returns without risking huge sums of cash.
How to win point spread bets on the NBA
What is point spread betting?
Point spread betting is defined as backing a team to win or lose a match with a particular advantage or disadvantage laid against them from tip off. Some punters or bookies might refer to the process as handicap betting but, in a nutshell, point spreads awards one team a head start. Let’s look at an example:
The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks lock horns in a couple of days. The match obviously starts at 0-0 with the team that scores the most points winning the game. A points spread will read as something like Brooklyn Nets -9.5 points.
This would mean that a bet on the Nets would need them to win by 10 or more points for the bet to win. The opposite of this bet would be to bet on the Bucks plus 9.5 bets. It’s the same principle and if the Bucks either win or lose by less than 10 points, the bet wins.
How do point spreads impact betting odds?
As you can imagine, bookmakers aren’t going to let you bet on a team to win with a head start without flexing the odds to reflect that advantage. As the probability of your bet winning increases, the odds generally decrease. How dramatic that odds shift is depends on the size of the point spread and the teams involved.
Let’s stick to our example of the Nets versus the Bucks. The encounter is expected to be a hard fought match with little between the sides. A straight bet i.e. picking a team to win sees the odds of 2.10 Nets, 1.73 Bucks. A small points spread of 1.5 points either way makes the odds level at 1.91. If, however, you return to the 9.5 points we mentioned earlier you get a big shift; the Nets to win -9.5 becomes priced at 4.00 whilst the Bucks +9.5 becomes 1.22.
A bet on the Nets to win gives you bigger returns if it happens whilst a Bucks win or narrow loss secures you a return – albeit a smaller one. How you bet depends on your research and knowledge.
What stats inform point spread betting?
There are two key factors to consider when placing point spread bets. The first is to simply decide who you expect to win the game. The other factor is how many points they’re likely to win by; the latter point is where most people find it difficult to judge. There is, however, a few simple steps that can help.
Consider the recent form of the teams involved. What is their average winning/losing margin like? Let’s take a look with our example:
The Nets have averaged a point spread of 2 over their last five; three wins of seven and six points respectively with a 13 and 5 point loss. Meanwhile, the Bucks have averaged a winning margin of 31 points courtesy of four wins and one loss.
The other thing to consider is the teams head to head record. Over the past two years, the Nets and the Bucks have played five times with an overall score of Bucks 605 – Nets 564. That’s an average winning margin of 8.2 points.
Those stats suggest Bucks with a 9.5 advantage should be a very safe bet. Of course, you’ll find bookies like BetAmerica Extra offer a host of NBA betting odds in the spread market. After looking at the stats, you might decide to be more ambitious or more safe. For instance, you can back the Bucks to win at -7.5 for odds of 2.63; that’s much better than their straight odds although it is less likely, if not unlikely.
How to maximise your returns
There are a few ways you can look to boost your profits with spread betting. Firstly, a switch of mentality might be needed. Consider the bet we’ve been speaking about; the Nets -9.5 is priced at 4.00. That’s great but it means nothing if it doesn’t come in. The Bucks +9.5 is much more likely to win.
That mentality shift feeds into our next tips. If you’re hedging your bets to maximise your chances of winning then applying that logic over multiple games could see you place a more conservative accumulator. Again, your odds compared to a normal accumulator will be less but the prospect of actually winning will increase.
If that doesn’t suit then you could consider a rolling accumulator. This is nothing to do with multiple selections but instead focuses on winning one bet at a time. Let’s say you only want to risk $5 from your bank. You bet that on the Bucks +9.5.
That makes your balance $6.10. You’d then wager the full $6.10 on your next bet and so on. With this method, the amount you risk is still your cash but won’t be fed direct from your bank. If that bothers you then a protective strategy can see you begin to hedge your winnings e.g. rather than betting the full $6.10 you might only bet $5.50 and pocket the difference.
There you have it, our guide to betting on NBA point spreads.